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September 6, 2013

TALKIN’ PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Local teams ready to take on Week 2 slate

CULLMAN — Remember when all anyone could talk about was Tyler Glenn’s 6-yard scramble for the game-winning score with 18 seconds left to clinch Cullman’s 13-10 comeback victory over Walker last Friday?

Or about when Glenn rolled right and connected with Joseph Gable on a 10-yard touchdown pass earlier in the quarter?

Or about Trey Moon starting the final frame with a momentum-shifting interception and Garrett Crider, Mason Jones and Will Crenshaw all grinding out fourth-down conversions?

Or about Mark Britton tying Oliver Woodard as Cullman’s all-time winningest coach with his 106th victory?

Wait, you don’t remembering hearing all that?

Me either.

Instead, all the focus has been on the ugly aftermath of the bitter rivals’ latest meeting — and understandably so.

But, postgame fight or not, the Bearcats did actually play a football game last Friday and will take their first step toward moving forward with another one tonight.

This week, the Black and Gold will welcome Class 5A, Region 8-rival East Limestone into the cozy confines of Oliver Woodard Stadium.

The Indians are still smarting from a 24-21 Week 1 loss to 4A Madison County, which won on a 31-yard field goal as time expired. Despite the losing effort, senior Jordan Gandy was an absolute beast, pulling down a 77-yard touchdown pass and returning an interception 96 yards for another score.

Cullman, which beat East Limestone 30-21 in 2012, must get going before the fourth quarter if it hopes to open region play on the right foot. All the distractions the Bearcats have had this week are likely to be a factor, too, though we’ll find out tonight if they simply add fuel to the fire or wind up being just too much to overcome.

% No. 5 Addison (1-0, 0-0 in Class 1A, Region 6) at Ragland (0-0, 0-0): The Bulldogs entered the 2013 campaign vowing to exact revenge on the two teams that beat them in the regular season last year.

With a 20-8 Week 1 win against Ider in the books, so far, so good.

Now, all that’s standing in the way of Addison countering an 0-2 start with a 2-0 showing is Ragland, which opened with a bye week.

The Purple Devils very well could be the Bulldogs’ biggest test this fall. Considering its offense racked up 300 rushing yards and its defense limited Ider to a meager 64 yards last Friday, count on Addison to pass with flying colors.

% Cold Springs (1-0, 0-0 in 2A, Region 4) at Sulligent (0-1, 0-0): The days of penciling in the Eagles for a loss regardless of their opponent are over.

After grabbing the Alabama High School Athletic Association Week 1 Spotlight with a 34-0 drubbing of Decatur Heritage last Friday, Cold Springs is seeking its first 2-0 start since 2003, the second year of coach Rod Elliott’s first stint with the program.

And what do you know, it’s Year 2 of Elliott’s second go-round with the Eagles, so don’t be surprised if we see a similar result.

Sulligent has yet to lose in three meetings with Cold Springs but appears to be extremely vulnerable entering the fourth. Just last Friday, the Blue Devils were spanked 42-0 by 3A Hamilton.

The Eagles, meanwhile, were soaring with their first shutout since 2004. They’d love nothing more than to break their winless streak against Sulligent by touting a second shutout in the process.

% Douglas (0-1, 0-0 in 4A, Region 6) at Fairview (0-1, 0-0): The Aggies’ offense is already rolling following a shootout with Hanceville, while the Eagles are still looking for theirs to get off the ground after gaining less than 100 yards in a 6-0 loss to DAR.

No Trett Hardman. No Luke Bailey. No problem for Fairview.

In his first start behind center, junior Hayden Maples took the reins from his dual-threat predecessors, completing 19 of 26 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns. His top targets were Bailey Strong and Ethan Widner, who combined for 10 catches and 248 yards.

Sophomore Austin Harris also appeared to be the Aggies’ answer at running back, capping off his debut with 110 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 carries.

While four Fairview players cracked triple-digits on their own, Douglas barely missed out on mustering 100 yards as a team. It did hold DAR to just 119 yards, though.

Look for the Aggie D that was on display during a jamboree against Arab, not the one Hanceville had a field day against, to show back up in time to keep the Eagles grounded.

% Brindlee Mountain (0-1, 0-0 in 3A, Region 6) at Holly Pond (0-1, 0-0): The Broncos are desperate to put a 61-14 Week 1 loss to Good Hope in the rear-view mirror and hand Mike Bates his first win as coach of the Green and White.

In order to make that happen, Holly Pond will have to get past the Lions, who put up most of their points against Vinemont’s second-string defense in a 40-28 loss to the Eagles.

The Broncos scraped by Brindlee Mountain 18-13 in 2012. Expect the region rivals’ latest meeting to be just as evenly matched.

% Danville (0-1, 0-0 in 3A, Region 7) at Vinemont (1-0, 0-0): The Eagles were just getting their wings when the two teams met last fall, but this time around, the Red and White are already flying high.

Vinemont broke out with an 8-3 campaign in 2012, escaping Danville with a 21-16 victory along the way. A year later, the Eagles aren’t sneaking up on anyone. These days, they’re expected to win against squads like the Hawks, who are coming off a 41-15 loss to Randolph in their season-opener.

If Vinemont plays like it did a week ago versus Brindlee Mountain — Johnathon Evans and John Michael Dye were strong in the run game, Blake Melton caught a touchdown pass, Dalton Harbison had an interception and Kurtis Brawner blocked a punt that was returned for another score — then Danville doesn’t stand a chance.

% West Point (1-0, 0-0 in 5A, Region 8) at Athens (1-0, 0-0): One week after gutting out a come-from-behind effort on the road against Brewer, the Warriors are going to need another full helping of heart as they take on the Golden Eagles.

After an injury-ridden 2012 kept Athens out of the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, it appears the Golden Eagles are back and better than ever. Last Friday, they made easy work of Decatur, handily defeating the usually strong 6A school 22-0.

Though the odds are stacked against them, West Point isn’t the type of team to give up without a fight. The Warriors proved that with a pair of goal-line stands and a clutch 10-play, 99-yard drive when they needed it most in Week 1 versus the Patriots.

Can West Point conjure up that kind of magic for a second Friday in a row? Sure. Will it be enough to topple Athens, though? Probably not.

% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at robk@cullmantimes.com.

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