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October 11, 2012

TALKIN’ PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Eagles, Raiders renew rivalry after 2-year hiatus

CULLMAN — When Good Hope was briefly shipped to Class 4A, so too went the Raiders’ long-standing rivalry with Vinemont.

For 41 straight years, the foes met once each season — a third-round playoff matchup made it twice in 1988 — but from 2010-11, the annual battle between Cullman County’s two Red and Whites was put on hold.

With Good Hope’s arrival back to 3A, the rivalry returns, too. It will resume tonight when the Eagles travel across town for a Class 3A, Region 7 game between two teams heading in very different directions.

Despite a 56-49 home loss to Hamilton last week, it appears the only way Vinemont (4-2, 2-2 in Class 3A, Region 7) can go is up. On the legs of Ty Jones and Tyler Boland, the Eagles started the season with four straight wins, shook off a blowout loss to Hanceville by shutting out 5A Brewer and then nearly pulled off the upset versus the No. 4 Aggies.

Meanwhile, the Raiders’ ship has continued to sink following an impressive 2-0 start. Since a gutsy 34-27 road win over Hanceville in Week 2, Good Hope (2-4, 1-3) has gone 0-fer in its last four games, including last Friday’s narrow 22-19 road loss to Danville.

A victory would greatly help Vinemont’s chances of earning a postseason berth. Through six games, Hamilton and Winston County are 4-0 in the region, leaving the Eagles, Hanceville and Danville as the top three contenders for the final two spots at 2-2.

% Lawrence County (2-4, 0-4 in Class 5A, Region 8) at No. 10 Cullman (5-1, 3-1): After a relatively tough three-week stretch against Hartselle, Madison Academy and Russellville, it’s about time for Mark Britton and the Bearcats to relax.

With the not-near-as-threatening-as-their-mascot-would-have-you-believe Red Devils traveling to Oliver Woodard Stadium tonight, there should be plenty of time for the Black and Gold to do just that.

Lawrence County hasn’t had much luck putting points on the board this season, averaging an atrocious 4.3 points per game. Its opposition certainly has, though, as the D’s equally bad 35.5 points per game average clearly illustrates.

The Red Devils have only scored 13 points in five games since a 13-12 Week 1 win over 4A East Lawrence. They’ve been shut out three times over that span, with West Point serving up their last goose egg just last Friday in a 43-0 embarrassment.

Don’t expect to see usual contributors like Zac Crocker, Troy Forrest, Garrett Crider, Michael Skinner and others on the field for Cullman very long. With the Red Devils visiting, things could get ugly pretty quick, which would allow Britton to please the homecoming crowd by giving the second- and third-string units some valuable playing time.

The Bearcats’ 21-20 overtime classic on the road against Russellville gave the 13th-year coach 100 victories with the program. If everything goes as planned tonight, Britton’s wait for 101 will be a short one.

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