PREP FOOTBALL: Holly Pond, Hanceville preparing to renew county rivalry; Bearcats, Eagles, Tigers facing region foes

Left – Holly Pond’s Kyler Chaney (12) (Howard Cole for The Cullman Tribune) Right – Hanceville’s Zack Campbell (3) (Martha Needham for The Cullman Tribune)

With three weeks of high school football in the books, we’re starting to get into the thick of region play and seeing potential playoff teams take shape while others are in danger of falling out of postseason contention in the coming weeks. The Cullman Bearcats will travel to Columbia after collecting their first win of the season over Decatur, Meek will head to Hubbertville after a tough loss to South Lamar, Vinemont will host Midfield after being shut out at Westbrook Christian and Holly Pond will host Hanceville to renew that county rivalry.

(2-1) Hanceville (3A Region 5) at (0-3) Holly Pond (3A Region 5)

The Bulldogs are coming off a big win at J.B. Pennington last week in which Hanceville’s defense kept the Tigers off the scoreboard and the offense found the end zone several times to collect an impressive 28-0 win on the road. Pennington handled the Bulldogs 71-8 just a season ago so this most recent Hanceville victory could create some real momentum going forward. Holly Pond on the other hand, is coming off another tough loss on the road in which the Broncos fell behind Midfield 30-0 in the second quarter and despite moving the ball in the second half, could not overcome the early Patriots lead.

Hanceville hasn’t defeated Holly Pond since 2015 when the Bulldogs edged the Broncos in a 60-50 shootout. Holly Pond has controlled the rivalry since then, but this Friday will be as good a chance as any for Hanceville to turn that around. The Broncos offense has had issues with turnovers early this season and this Bulldogs defense is playing with more confidence after last week’s performance in Blountsville. Hanceville leads the all-time series 22-14 but it’ll have a chance to widen the gap Friday if the Bulldogs successfully contain Holly Pond’s run game and continue to put points on the board.

(1-2) Cullman (6A Region 7) at (0-3) Columbia (6A Region 7)

The Bearcats dropped a pair of tight games at Jasper and Mortimer Jordan to start the season 0-2 but hit their stride in the second half of their game against Decatur. After falling behind 17-0 in the second quarter, Cullman ran off 41 unanswered points behind a resurgent offensive line and a smothering performance from the defense. The ‘Cats racked up 375 yards on the ground alone, led by Jayden Sullins with 190 yards on 31 carries and Jaylen Hughey with 130 yards on just 12 carries. Quarterback Max Dueland ran in five touchdowns for Cullman in the win and the Bearcats will be trying to replicate last week’s second half performance going forward this season.

The ‘Cats will be facing another region foe when they travel to Columbia Thursday night to face an Eagles team that has had a rough start to the 2019 season. Columbia has lost its first three games by a combined score of 172-0 so Cullman will certainly be the favorite heading into this one. Thursday’s game will be another good opportunity for the Bearcats running attack to show out and if the defense continues to play well, Cullman shouldn’t have too much trouble moving to 2-0 in the region.

(0-3) Meek (1A Region 6) at (1-1) Hubbertville (1A Region 6)

The Tigers will be trying to shake off a 62-0 loss to South Lamar last week in which they fell behind 48-0 at the halftime break and could never find the end zone against the Stallions. Now, Meek will travel to Hubbertville Friday for another region showdown. The Lions are coming off a 28-6 loss at Berry, making both the Tigers and Hubbertville 0-1 in the region.

With both teams behind in the region win column, this week’s matchup will be critical if they want to remain in playoff contention this season. The Lions have scored just 20 points this season, but Meek’s offense has gotten off to a slow start as well. It’ll be the team that finds a way to break through offensively and put pressure on the opposing defense that likely walks away with the region win in Hubbertville.

(1-1) Vinemont (3A Region 5) vs. Midfield (3A Region 5)

After knocking off Falkville 32-21 to kick off the season, the Eagles fell to Westbrook Christian on the road to fall to 1-1 but have a chance to get back in the win column this week and start region play on the right foot. Midfield is coming off a win over Holly Pond that gives the Patriots an early lead in the region and a win at Vinemont would cement that fast start.

Eagles running back Dallin Dinkle didn’t have quite as much success on the ground in week two as he did in the season opener but he’s still off to one of the best starts of any tailback in the county. It’ll be critical for Vinemont to find its rhythm on offense again after being shut out last week, but a good start defensively may be even more important. The Patriots jumped out to a 30-0 lead against Holly Pond last week and despite bending in the second half defensively, their early lead was enough to outlast the Broncos. If Vinemont can bounce back offensively and prevent a fast start from the Midfield offense, the Eagles will have a chance to start region play 1-0 on their home field.

Look for game previews for Fairview, West Point, Cold Springs, Good Hope in tomorrow’s edition of The Cullman Tribune.

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