Linden must overcome familiar foe for shot at title
The playoffs are winding down as teams are entering round four of the AHSAA playoffs. This week is the state semi-finals and only four teams remain for each classification and Linden High School is the lone Marengo County team remaining in the hunt for a state championship.
After dropping two games early in the season, the Patriots have won eight straight games to land themselves in the fourth round and will have to avenge a loss to a familiar opponent in Maplesville High School.
Last week, Linden (10-2) put on a display of dominance in a 41-0 win against the Brantley Bulldogs.
Dequan Charleston made his presence felt once again returning an interception 75 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring and scored two more times as the game progresses. Christopher Robinson also turned in another impressive performance with a passing touchdown.
Last week, Maplesville (11-1) defeated Georgiana 36-28 to advance. In the contest, the Red Devils rolled to 500 yards on 59 attempts running the ball.
Terrance Dunlap continued his phenomenal work this season rushing for 332 yards on 32 carries. Corey Hall scored three touchdowns on the ground to aide the Maplesville offense.
Despite only totaling 212 yards of offense, Georgiana was able to keep pace with the Red Devils by converting two turnovers directly into touchdowns.
Linden and Maplesville met earlier this season on Sept. 18 in a 1A Region 4 matchup.
The Patriots held a 7-6 after the first half, thanks to a 38-yard run by Christopher Robinson, and into the fourth quarter until with 11 minutes on the clock when Corey Hall capped a long drive with an 8-yard run.
Terrance Dunlap would go on to score two more touchdowns, one in the final seconds of play, to push the Red Devils to the 20-7 final.
Following that contest, both teams would lose their next games with Linden falling on the road to 5A St. Paul’s and Maplesville losing to 2A Tanner.
Neither team has lost since that week and neither has been truly close to losing since then.
However, what is telling about that idea is that Linden was the first and only team to push Maplesville to the limit and the Patriots have only gotten better since that point.
If it had not been for four costly turnovers, this game would be played in Linden on Black Friday as opposed to at Maplesville High School in Chilton County.
Linden is averaging 31.7 points per game and the Patriots two losses are to teams still playing Friday night.
Maplesville averages 40.1 points per game on offense while only allowing 12.8 points a contest. The Red Devil’s loss came to Tanner who was ousted in the second round.
Maplesville has defeated every 1A and 2A school in Marengo County this season.
Seeking a second ever title game appearance, the Patriots are 1-2 in the semi-final round with their last appearance being a 20-7 victory over Sweet Water. Meanwhile, the Red Devils are making their third consecutive appearance in round four with wins in both appearances. However, Maplesville is 1-5 at home in this round of the playoffs.
Linden and Maplesville have met every year since 2007, except for 2012, and are an even 4-4 in those matchups. The Red Devils have a 6-4 edge in the overall series with wins in 1999 and 2000. Friday night will be the 7th playoff meeting where Maplesville holds a 4-2 advantage.