Big battles on tap for week four

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Several local teams will be playing games this week that will already go a long way in shaping the playoff picture.

Sweet Water, Demopolis and Linden are all in vital region matchups this week. A.L. Johnson, Marengo and Marengo Academy are also in action and will be looking for wins.

Sweet Water hosts rival Washington County on Thursday

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Thursday night, Sweet Water (2-1, 2-0) will host Washington County (3-0, 2-0) in the fifth meeting between the two teams in the last three seasons.

In each of the last two years, Sweet Water has won the regular season meeting between the teams, but Washington County has ended Sweet Water’s season in the Class 2A semi-finals those two years.

Sweet Water head coach Pat Thompson said that adds a little fuel to the fire, but their main focus is on this season and Thursday night’s game.

“It’s a big game for us, but we’re preparing for it just like we do any other,” Thompson said. “We’re taking it one game at a time, and our players and coaches realize the importance of this early season game. We’ve got to go out and take care of ourselves.”

He added that Washington County is a team that likes to run the football but can also beat you through the air.

“They’re great running the ball, but they have a quarterback that can throw well,” he said. “They’re good on defense. They’re just a really solid football team.

Demopolis battles new Helena program

The Demopolis Tigers (2-1, 2-0) will travel to Helena to take on a first-year program in the Huskies (3-0, 2-0).

For the Huskies, it will be their first home game in school history. DHS head coach Tom Causey said he expects there to be a lot of emotion in the stadium. He added that the Huskies are 3-0 for a reason.

“They’re a very well-coached team and they play hard,” Causey said. “They want to establish the run early, and they have two quarterbacks that can run and throw well. They’re multiple on defense, so they’ll give us a challenge with different fronts.”

With Demopolis having defeated Calera earlier in the season, this game could have a big effect on playoff seeding at the end of the season.

“This is a great test for our players,” Causey said. “It’s more about this week than anything else. They’re our next region game, and that’s all we’re worried about. If we take care of what we’re supposed to, everything else will fall into place.”

After a convincing 49-6 win over Jemison last week, Causey said his players need to put it behind them.

“We have to keep going,” he said. “Just like after the Thomasville loss, we have to check it off on the schedule and move on. You can’t sit around after a win. You have to keep working. We’ve got to be prepared to do what it takes to win Friday night.”

Patriots head to Maplesville for region showdown

Class 1A, Region 4 is home to two top-five teams in the state with Linden and Maplesville. Friday night, these teams will face off for control of the region.

The Patriots (1-1, 1-0) are ranked No. 4 in Class 1A, while the Red Devils (3-0, 2-0) are ranked No. 2. Last season, Maplesville knocked Linden out of the playoffs, but Linden coach Andro Williams said that’s in the past.

“That was last year,” he said. “Our team is different from that team, and so is Maplesville’s. We didn’t play them in week four last year, and this year we do. We’ve got to prepare for the game like it’s a big region game.”

Williams said eliminating big plays will be a big part of slowing down an explosive Red Devils offense.

“They have a physical team that gets their skill guys in space,” he said. “If we work on not giving up big plays and not getting out-foxed, we’ll have a good chance.”

Maplesville’s defense hasn’t surrendered a score yet through three games, shutting out Billingsley, Sunshine and Keith 54-0, 55-0 and 55-0, respectively.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball, which we’ve done so far, and we need to stay on our blocks and keep the sticks moving,” Williams added.

“We have to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball for four quarters. We’ve got an opportunity to go on the road and get a big win, and that’s what we plan on doing.”

A.L. Johnson looking to continue winning ways

The A.L. Johnson Eagles (2-1, 1-0) will host Sunshine High School on Friday for their second region game of the season.

The Eagles, ranked No. 6 in Class 1A, are coming off of a 34-0 win over Akron last week. ALJ head coach Johnney Ford said Sunshine has always been a tough matchup.

“They have some good athletes, and they always play A.L. Johnson tough,” he said. “I feel like we should match up well this week. It’s a big rivalry on top of being a region game since the schools are only a few miles apart. We’re really looking forward to the challenge.”

Ford added that he saw a lot of improvement from his team last week and hopes that continues.

“We cut down on our mistakes against Akron,” he said. “We didn’t have any turnovers, and we forced some takeaways. It was our first shutout in a long time, and I was very pleased with how we played. Sunshine has a big offensive line, they run a lot of different formations, and they’ve got some size at their skill positions, so we’ll need to be disciplined in all areas of our game.”

Marengo, Marengo Academy looking for wins

The Marengo Academy Longhorns will travel to South Choctaw Academy on Friday to try to improve to 2-1 overall.

The Longhorns are coming off of a bye week, so they should be healthy and rested coming into the game.

For the Marengo Panthers, they are looking to bounce back after two consecutive region losses.

The Panthers will host Millry on Thursday to try to get back in the win column.