Week 10 Predictions: Last go-round

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2005

So this is it: my final set of predictions for the season. Come the playoffs, I pick our area teams over those non-area scumbags (yes, all of them) every time. Like the old song says, if picking the high school football team from your area to win in the playoffs even if deep down you think they might lose is wrong, baby, I don’t wanna be right.

So what have I learned over these last nine weeks of prognostication?

Several things:

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1. There’s only so many ways to fill out the phrase “the pick: So-and-so, by…” without resorting to lame and/or offensive-to-the-losing team jokes.

2. Despite repeated pleas that I’m very aware I don’t really know what I’m talking about, and should under no circumstances be taken any more seriously than the Braves’ World Series chances, people do seem to care who I pick each week. It’s very flattering, in a “Wait, I picked against YOUR team? Your guys? There must have been some mistake … Hey, what’s that over there? If you’ll excuse me just a moment …” kind of way.

3. Having Demopolis, Southern Academy, and Sweet Water in one’s area is very, very good for one’s overall season record.

4. Having John Essex in your area … and, of course, not being very good at picking the winners of high school football games that involve them … is less good.

But have I learned anything that will actually help me deduce this week’s winners? Unless you consider learning, when in doubt, to trust a flipped coin over my first instincts, not really.

For the final time: On to the picks…

Demopolis at Greeneville: 9-0 at 1-8. As a third-party observer, this almost feels like a jamboree game: an opportunity to see how well all the parts of the well-oiled Demopolis machine are working before the “real” season begins. Unfortunately for Greeneville, coach Goodwin and his players are taking it much more seriously than that, I’m sure.

The pick: DHS, by a ton

WAP at Shelby: Fight the good fight one more time, Titans.

The pick: Shelby

John Essex at Greensboro: A tune-up for both teams as they prepare to take on tough first-round opponents on the road next week. Picking against Essex these days always feels like I’m asking for things to end badly, like making a long, complicated order to one of those waiters who refuses to write things down. But a weaker Greensboro team beat the Hornets last year 18-8, and the Raiders have been money at home.

The pick: Greensboro, by six

Marengo Acad. at Sumter Acad.: The traditional year-end game will be the season finale for the Longhorns while Sumter is preparing to take on heavyweight Autauga next week in the first round of the AISA playoffs. Will that matter this week? Maybe: Sumter has both momentum and motivation and will have the home crowd, but Marengo will still have plenty of fight. A toss-up.

The pick: Sumter, by two

Southern Acad. at Pickens Acad.: The Cougars can’t rest on their laurels after their big win over Patrician. While Patrician is the better of the Cougars’ final two out-of-region opponents, if Southern goes to the sleep on any good 2A team like Pickens, they could see their winning streak cut suddenly short. Good things Shaun Bonds is awfully unlikely to let that happen.

The pick: Southern, by nine

Sweet Water at Gulf Shores: Sweet Water came within a whisker of knocking off Thomasville, one of the better 4A teams in the state. Gulf Shores is 4A. But they’re sure not Thomasville, either: the Tigers drummed the Dolphins 42-7. Expect Sweet Water to do something similar.

The pick: Sweet Water, by 20

Marengo High at A.L. Johnson: A collision of two teams each coming off of a demoralizing loss, Marengo a bizarre last-minute defeat to 1-7 McIntosh and Johnson the devastating 14-9 setback to Linden that will keep them out of the postseason. Marengo might have more spirit with their playoff place intact, but given the caliber of their respective opponents last week, Johnson would still appear to be playing sharper football.

The pick: Johnson, by four

Linden at Coffeeville: DHS at Greeneville, the 1A version. Coffeeville is having a cover-your-eyes terrible season while Linden will continue to develop their one-two quarterbacking punch of Darnell Richardson and Jared Jackson.

The pick: Linden, by a mile

East Memorial at MMI: Turns out that MMI-Sumter game back on Sept. 9 was the biggest game of the year for those two teams. The Tigers lost 18-14 in a game that was even closer than that, and after they polish off EMCA this week those four points will have been all that stood between them and a playoff berth. Heady stuff for a program that’s struggled the way MMI has in recent years.

The pick: MMI, by 30

Greene County at Calhoun: Greene Co. has to be glad they’re finishing their season with a terrible team like 1-8 Calhoun. After coming so close to so many big upsets this season, the Tigers deserve to finish the year with a W.

The pick: Greene Co., by four scores

Fruitdale at Sunshine: Sunshine’s had some good games this year (most notably their thumping of the aforementioned 3A Clhoun) but last week’s loss to Carrollton–Carrollton’s first region win–wasn’t one of them. The Tigers should be able to bounce back against Fruitdale, which I’m still not sure is actually a football team or my favorite brand of gourmet jams and jellies.

The pick: Sunshine, by three

Hale Co. at Akron: The Rams will very likely finish the season 0-10, but there’s good news: with not one senior on the team (and talent at the skill positions), Akron can basically just call “do-over” on 2005.

The pick: Hale, by 10

R.C. Hatch at Francis Marion: It’s now officially basketball season in Perry County.

The pick: Francis Marion, by two or three scores

Last week: 12-2

Area teams that made me look good: Demopolis, Southern Acad., Sweet Water, Linden, Greensboro, Sumter County, Sumter Acad., MMI.

Area teams that shut my big mouth up: None

Season-to-date: 98-21