Goodbye, regular season. Hello, playoffs.
The postseason kicks off Friday night, and four teams in The Times’ coverage area will attempt to secure victories against some stout competition.
Fairview and Good Hope host in the opening round, while Cullman and Vinemont hit the road.
Without further ado, let’s check out what awaits those four programs.
% Team: Cullman (7-3, 5-2 in Class 6A, Region 8)
% Opponent: Jackson-Olin (8-2, 4-2 in Class 6A, Region 6)
% All-Time Series: First Meeting
% The Skinny: The Bearcats are making their third playoff appearance in as many seasons under coach Oscar Glasscock.
Awaiting them is Jackson-Olin.
The Mustangs dropped just two contests this season — one of which came to top-ranked Clay-Chalkville — notched wins against Pinson Valley, Calera and Fairfield, and averaged 37.2 points per game — its best offensive output under longtime coach Tim Vakakes.
% Quotes of Note: “We played 11 straight weeks of tackle football when you include the jamboree, so it was a tough haul — no doubt. But I think we’ve rebounded. We took it light, took some time off. We’ve had a good week of practice. The kids have had a super attitude and seem to want to keep playing football. I think that’s important for success." — Glasscock
“They’re very well-coached and play with a lot of class and sportsmanship. Coach Vakakes has turned them into a powerhouse. They play in the toughest region in the state. We’re going to have to play a perfect game. But we’re happy to be in the playoffs. We’re going to go down there, play our best and see what happens." — Glasscock
% Game: Friday, 7 p.m. at Jackson-Olin
% Team: Fairview (9-1, 5-1 in Class 5A, Region 7)
% Opponent: Fairfield (7-3, 5-2 in Class 5A, Region 5)
% All-Time Series: First Meeting
% The Skinny: The Aggies — winners of seven straight — are hosting a first-round matchup for the third consecutive season under longtime coach George Redding.
The Tigers, meanwhile, have put together their best campaign since 2016.
Fairfield closed the regular season with four straight wins, is allowing only 18.3 points per game defensively and has suffered close losses to No. 7 Parker, Jackson-Olin and No. 2 Pleasant Grove.
% Quotes of Note: “There’s great energy, a great vibe. We’ve been working to be in this situation, and the guys are excited. But this group has also come in with a business-like attitude, and that’s been good." — Redding
“Overall, Fairfield has great size and team speed. Lots of playmakers. It’s definitely a tough test. We’re going to need to play well. It’s going to be important for us to cut down on explosive plays for them. We’re going to need to control the tempo and pace of the game. When they get going, they can go." — Redding
% Game: Friday, 7 p.m. at Fairview
% Team: Good Hope (7-3, 5-1 in Class 4A, Region 6)
% Opponent: Central-Florence (7-3, 4-3 in Class 4A, Region 8)
% All-Time Series: Good Hope leads 1-0 (1997)
% The Skinny: The Raiders are back in the playoffs for a fourth straight season under coach Alan Scott, having won seven of their past eight games.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, dropped three of four following a quick 6-0 start but enter this bout averaging 34.4 points per game offensively.
Central-Florence relies heavily on the ground game, with three players — Hunter Palmer, Brodie Montgomery and Jamal Ingram — each surpassing 500 yards during the regular season.
% Quotes of Note: “We’re thankful to be back (in the playoffs). There are no guarantees. Back in August and looking at this schedule — I knew it was going to be a grind with all these quality opponents. To have put ourselves in this position, it’s a special thing. We’ve had some good practices, and our guys know what’s at stake." — Scott
“The first thing you notice about them is how disciplined they are. They’re a very well-coached team, and you can tell it’s a well-run program. The kids play hard, know their jobs and get after it. They run the Wing-T, which can give you a lot of formations and motions. It’s very deceptive. On top of that, they’ve got a stable of about six running backs they rotate. They stay fresh and run the ball really hard." — Scott
% Game: Friday, 7 p.m. at Good Hope
% Team: Vinemont (5-5, 4-3 in Class 3A, Region 6)
% Opponent: Lauderdale County (9-1, 6-0 in Class 3A, Region 8)
% All-Time Series: Lauderdale County leads 2-0 (2012 and 2014)
% The Skinny: The Eagles have won five of their past seven games and clinched a playoff spot for the second straight season under coach Stephen Robinson.
The No. 7 Tigers, on the other hand, won their first nine tilts before falling to Class 4A No. 5 Brooks.
Lauderdale County is super stingy on defense — it allowed just 9.5 points per game — and is a run-heavy offense that relies on Jaylon Byrd and Braxton Rose. Quarterback Eric Fuqua can also make plays, as can Ethan Hamm.
% Quotes of Note: “We’ve had really good days of practice so far. The feel on the field is just upbeat and excited. We know we have a tough challenge ahead of us, but I think our guys are taking it on with a good spirit and a good attitude. They’re going to give it everything they’ve got on Friday night." — Robinson
“The biggest thing is how they fire off the football. They’re super disciplined, do things right, don’t make mistakes. That really stands out. Offensively, we’ve got to get first downs and try to shorten the game. Defensively, we’ve got to read our keys and play solid football. They run the ball hard. When we get there, we’ve got to wrap up and tackle well." — Robinson
% Game: Friday, 7 p.m. at Lauderdale County