The playoffs have officially arrived.
Which, unfortunately, means yet another exciting football season is nearing its untimely end.
Though some schools have already set their sights toward basketball, there are 208 programs across the state ready to compete for a championship on the gridiron in their respective classifications.
Addison, Cullman, Holly Pond and West Point — the only local teams to pick up postseason spots — are among that aforementioned group all in search of two particular achievements, which can be summed up in just six simple words.
Five. More. Wins.
Red. Map. Trophy.
The Class 1A, No. 8 Bulldogs return to the postseason for an eighth straight season, where they will host their eighth home playoff contest since 2010. The Warriors (four), Bearcats (three) and Broncos (two) will take to the highway for their November matchups with modest postseason streaks as well.
But we all know about them ... after all, those four squads have been highlighted each and every week since August.
Now, it's time for something else entirely.
Without further ado, let's take an in-depth look at what awaits Addison, Cullman, Holly Pond and West Point — all of which have limited histories against their first-round opponents — this week.
% Team: Addison (8-2, 5-1 and No. 2 in Class 1A, Region 7)
% Opponent: Hubbertville (3-6, 3-3 and No. 3 in Class 1A, Region 5)
% Coach: Lamar Harris (232-194 in 40 seasons)
% All-Time Series: Hubbertville 2-1
% Last Matchup: Addison 30, Hubbertville 20 (2016)
% The Skinny: Hubbertville, like Addison, is back in the playoffs for an eighth straight season.
Unlike the Bulldogs, however, the Lions haven't been nearly as impressive.
In six losses, Hubbertville has been outscored by an average of 35.5 to 11.2. Additionally, the three wins for the Lions have come against squads with a combined 10 victories this season — Berry, Holy Spirit and Brilliant.
Hubbertville lost to Meek 30-13 in Week 1, while Addison defeated the Tigers 34-13 in Week 7.
The Lions have scored 13 or less points in six outings, five of which were against teams with winning records.
% Quotes of Note: "It's nice to still be playing. It'd be very hard to swallow if we weren't. I think the kids have turned it up a bit. We're getting better and growing up. I'm not doing anything differently, but the kids are. It must be that time of the year again." — Addison coach David Smothers on returning to the postseason.
"My biggest concern is that we lost to a 2-8 team this season, and we're playing a 3-6 team now. Anybody can beat you if you aren't ready to play football. We aren't looking past anybody. We keep telling our guys that, and hopefully they're hearing us. Hubbertville reminds me a lot of Georgia Tech. They do what they do well. But if you defend that one thing well, it's certainly to your advantage. They're very physical, and they've got gutsy kids. It won't be given to us. We'll have to go out there and earn it." — Addison coach David Smothers on his team's first-round opponent.
% Game: Thursday, 7 p.m. at Addison High School
% Team: Cullman (7-3, 4-2 and No. 3 in Class 6A, Region 7)
% Opponent: Ramsay (6-4, 4-2 and No. 2 in Class 6A, Region 5)
% Coach: Reuben Nelson (38-29 in six seasons)
% All-Time Series: 0-0
% Last Matchup: First Meeting
% The Skinny: Ramsay is a team far better than its 6-4 record might indicate.
The defending Class 6A state champions have dropped matchups to No. 3 Pinson Valley (10-0), Grayson, Ga. (9-1), No. 7 Homewood (9-1) and Jackson-Olin (6-4) this season.
The Rams, though, did close strong with three straight victories — John Carroll, Smiths Station and Mountain Brook.
Ramsay's defense impresses (12.1 points per game) in wins and struggles (32.3 points per game) in losses, though those stats are a bit skewed when factoring in a particular opponent.
Despite placing second in their region, the Lions were just fifth out of seven teams in scoring at 23.8 points per bout.
% Quotes of Note: "For me and the team, it's special to accomplish this because of coach Britton. He laid the good foundation for this season, and he's a cornerstone for this program. It's important for our guys to see success as well. You have to be a really good football team to be in the playoffs, because Class 6A is competitive. Our kids will show up, play hard and give us a chance to win." — Cullman interim coach Mark Stephens on returning to the postseason.
"Defensively, they're really athletic. They can match up with us on the outside and put a lot of guys inside to stop the run. We're going to have to make some plays. They do a good job, but there have been some teams that have gone out there and scored on them. We're taking a look at that. Offensively, they've got weapons. Big up front. We'll really have stop the run and be sound in the cover game. If we give up big plays and easy ones, it's going to be a struggle. On top of that, they're the defending state champions. They bring that experience. There's no substitute for that." — Cullman interim coach Mark Stephens on his team's first-round opponent.
% Game: Friday, 7 p.m. at George W. Carver High School
% Team: Holly Pond (7-3, 3-3 and No. 4 in Class 3A, Region 6)
% Opponent: West Morgan (9-1, 6-1 and No. 1 in Class 3A, Region 8)
% Coach: John Ritter (16-15 in three seasons)
% All-Time Series: West Morgan 2-0
% Last Matchup: West Morgan 17, Holly Pond 6 (1971)
% The Skinny: West Morgan officially tied with Lauderdale County and Colbert Heights at the top of their region but claimed the deciding tiebreaker following a Week 10 victory against Lexington.
The Rebels are an offensive juggernaut, averaging 40.1 points per game this season to go along with eight victories of at least 20 points and four of at least 35 points.
Defensively, West Morgan is just as sensational, allowing 14 points per game and 10 or less in six of their nine wins.
The Rebels have just as much talent as No. 4 Fultondale — the best squad in Holly Pond's region by a landslide.
% Quotes of Note: "It's well-deserved. They've worked really hard. I'm just fired up about it. It's a goal you set at the beginning of the year. If you get there, it's a big deal. I couldn't ask for a better squad to coach." — Holly Pond coach Mike Bates on returning to the postseason.
"They've got great speed, and they're big. They look ticked off when they're playing ... and I don't like that (laughs). Their guy has done a great job for them. He knows that without me telling him. They run an offense like Auburn's and they execute very well. Tough to handle. They are really similar to Fultondale and really diverse like J.B. Pennington." — Holly Pond coach Mike Bates on his team's first-round opponent.
% Game: Thursday, 7 p.m. at West Morgan High School
% Team: West Point (6-4, 4-2 and No. 3 in Class 5A, Region 6)
% Opponent: Brooks (7-2, 6-1 and No. 1 in Class 5A, Region 8)
% Coach: Brad Black (26-7 in three seasons)
% All-Time Series: Brooks 2-0
% Last Matchup: Brooks 34, West Point 8 (2002)
% The Skinny: Brooks will be West Point's toughest challenge this season.
Sure, Wilson and Mortimer Jordan were good ... but this one counts something special.
The Lions average 34.8 points per game and surrender 15.9 points per game. Their two losses came against ranked opponents in Class 4A No. 8 Fayette County and No. 6 Mae Jemison.
Aside from that, they've been exceptional — capping off the regular season with four wins in a row.
Brooks also took down Lawrence County early in the season 42-35. The Red Devils bettered the Warriors 28-20 last Friday night.
While the Lions may not be as stellar as last year's first-round opponent — runner-up Wenonah — they still possess tons of talent on the roster.
% Quotes of Note: "It's definitely exciting to be back. We met Sunday, watched some film and went over some stuff. We have the expectations to be here, but we don't want to be satisfied. We want to do something with what we have here. Our guys are coming off a tough loss, but it helped us get ready for this week. It hurt to lose, but it gave us our focus we need to play this week." — West Point coach Don Farley on returning to the playoffs.
"They've got good size. Very good running back and very good quarterback. Speed, too. Similar to Wilson in a lot of ways. We have to tackle and finish every drive. Those are the two things we must do if we want to win on Thursday." — West Point coach Don Farley on this team's first-round playoff opponent.
% Game: Thursday, 7 p.m. at Brooks High School