High school football season will kick off Thursday night with several local matchups but there are even more games to gear up for the following night. Good Hope, Holly Pond, Hanceville, Addison and Vinemont will be in action Friday night but only four of them are getting their regular seasons underway as the Eagles will be hosting East Lawrence for a jamboree game. The Raiders will host Carbon Hill, Holly Pond will travel to New Hope, Hanceville will head to Sumiton Christian and Addison will host Curry for their first games of the 2019 season.
Good Hope (4A, Region 5) vs. Carbon Hill (3A, Region 4)
There are a lot of great moments to look back on from Good Hope’s memorable 2018 season but the road trip to Carbon Hill was one of the toughest games that the Raiders played in the regular season. The Raiders will open the season against the Bulldogs once again. Good Hope edged out the Bulldogs 20-12 last fall and head coach Alan Scott looks back on that game as a great test for his team early in the season.
“Obviously I’m excited that they are coming to us and we’re not going there again this year. That was a really tough game for us last year,” Scott said. “We had about 22 seniors, they had about 22 seniors, we knew what was coming going in and they jumped on us 12-0. It was really a good thing for our guys to have to dig deep, come back and get the lead and hang on there at the end.”
The Carbon Hill defense allowed just under 20 points per game in 2018 and they are returning 2nd team All-State linebacker Alex Atkins on that unit. The Bulldogs also finished with a winning record on the road last season so the Raiders will definitely have to show up and play well under the lights at James W. Shabel Stadium if they want to put away Carbon Hill and start the season 1-0.
Holly Pond (3A, Region 5) at New Hope (3A, Region 7)
Holly Pond will kick things off on the road in 2019. Head coach Mike Bates and the Broncos will head to New Hope for a season-opening matchup against the Indians and new head coach Trey Sullivan. Holly Pond opened last season with a 26-13 win over New Hope and the Broncos will be looking for a similar result Friday night.
The Indians finished the season 1-9 a year ago with an 0-5 record at home so Holly Pond will be the favorite going into this week’s game but the Broncos will have some new faces on the field that have to step up to give themselves a chance to win. Kyler Chaney will be back under center for Holly Pond to lead the offense once again this season and if some of the new names up front can clear the way, the senior quarterback should definitely be able to do some damage with his legs on Friday. If the offensive front can hold up and the Broncos remain sound defensively, Holly Pond will have a good chance to start things 1-0 this season.
Hanceville (3A, Region 5) at Sumiton Christian (3A, Region 7)
The Bulldogs will kick things off with Sumiton Christian once again this season but this time, Hanceville will have to hit the road and face the Eagles on David Campbell Field. The Bulldogs handled Sumiton Christian 48-14 top open the season a year ago and it was the only win they were able to collect throughout the year.
There could be some new looks from the Eagles this fall as they prepare for their first season under head coach David Powell. Hanceville might look a little different as well. Head coach Cody McCain is entering his second season with the Bulldogs and he and his staff are tooling the offense to fit his team’s strengths.
“About three or four games into last season we kind of adjusted what we were doing offensively and went to more of a true spread kind of offense. Down the stretch last season, we were throwing it 20-25 times a game and I imagine we’ll be 25-plus this year just because of personnel,” McCain said. “We’re a little thin up front as far as our linemen goes so we’ll try to spread it around as much as possible. We feel like we’ve got decent speed on the outside so we’re going to try and get the ball to those guys and let them do their thing.”
It should be interesting to see if this Hanceville offense can find its rhythm early and knock off Sumiton Christian to start things with a win in 2019.
Addison (2A, Region 7) vs. Curry (4A, Region 5)
There are 11 weeks between us and the AHSAA Football State Playoffs and the Addison Bulldogs plan on being there, but they have to earn their spot first. That challenge starts Friday when the Curry Yellow Jackets travel to Addison for a season-opening matchup against head coach David Smothers and the Bulldogs. Addison lost four seniors in May, including first-team All-State players Hayden Ray and Zayne Guthrie, but Smothers has been very encouraged by his returning guys and the new names filling some big roles.
“It’s an exciting challenge. The kids know how important those guys were to us and they know someone is going to have to step into those roles and we’re excited to see how that develops. We’re going to miss all four of those seniors,” Smothers said. “They all four played critical roles from leadership, to scoring points, to defending plays but we’ve got kids that can step up into those roles.”
Addison knocked off Curry 20-12 to open the season a year ago and with a lot of experience returning for the Bulldogs around some new faces at key positions, it’s bound to be another tight matchup on Friday.
Vinemont (3A, Region 5) vs. East Lawrence (3A, Region 8) (Jamboree)
Vinemont won’t get this season started officially until next week, but the Eagles will still get some good work in this Friday night. East Lawrence will travel to Vinemont for a jamboree game this week and it’ll be a great chance for the Eagles to iron out as many wrinkles as they can before their regular season kicks off on the road against Falkville.
Vinemont is one of the few teams in the county returning a lot of experience this fall and the coaches, players and fans alike are all expecting big things from the Eagles in 2019. Coach Robinson said this preseason that critical mistakes at critical times were what get his team from several wins last fall and Friday’s jamboree will be a good opportunity for the Eagles to eliminate as many of those mistakes as they can before the season gets started.
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