PREP FOOTBALL: Eagles, Tigers, Aggies, Broncos hosting region foes; Bearcats traveling Thursday

L-R: Holly Pond quarterback Kyler Chaney (15) (Howard Cole for The Cullman Tribune) Vinemont running back Dallin Dinkle (24) (Martha Needham for The Cullman Tribune) Fairview quarterback Parker Martin (9) (Bill Piper for The Cullman Tribune)

As we make our way through October and the end of the regular season approaches, playoff contenders have separated themselves from the rest of the pack and the remaining games will be critical to determine who will be in the postseason and where they might go. The Cullman Bearcats’ road trip to Muscle Shoals has been moved up to Thursday night while Holly Pond, Fairview, Vinemont and Meek prepare to host regional matchups.

(3-4) Cullman (6A Region 7) at (7-0) Muscle Shoals (6A Region 7) (Thursday)

The Bearcats are coming off a tough, 31-17 road loss at Athens a week ago but now they’ll have to regroup quickly and turn around for another road matchup Thursday night. Muscle Shoals is on top of region 7 right now, undefeated and are holding opponents to fewer than nine points per game so far this season.

The Trojans are coming off back to back impressive road wins over Florence and Decatur and are returning home this week to face Cullman. Muscle Shoals won last year’s meeting at Oliver Woodard Stadium 47-17 so the Trojans will be certainly be favored this time around. However, the Bearcats have other plans. Cullman is bringing a powerful running game to the shoals and if the Cats can find a way to create some turnovers and big plays, they’ll have a chance to knock off one of the strongest teams in 6A and take a huge step towards the postseason.

(0-7) Meek (1A Region 6) vs. (5-1) Pickens County (1A Region 6)

With an 0-4 record in the region, the playoffs are all but out of reach for the Tigers, but they have to focus up and prepare for a strong Pickens County team coming to Arley this week. The Tornados are coming to town with the best record in the region and a defense allowing less than 13 points per game.

Meek’s offense is being held to just 12 points per game so the Tigers will have their hands fill with Pickens County this week. The Tornados defeated Meek 67-20 at home a season ago so the Tigers will be anxious to play them again this week and turn the tables on the best team in the region.

(4-2) Fairview (4A Region 7) vs. (2-5) West Morgan (4A Region 7)

The Aggies are riding high after routing North Jackson 47-7 at Dafford Smith Stadium last week but now they’ll have to turn around and host another region foe with a potential playoff spot on the line. Fairview defeated West Morgan on the road last year and will try to make it back to back wins over the Rebels Friday night.

The Aggies have been clicking offensively this season, especially on the ground, racking up 34 points per game including a 62-point explosion at D.A.R. earlier this season. This week, they’ll face a West Morgan defense that allows nearly 35 points per game and if they can execute, they’ll more opportunities to make plays and score points. Defensively, Fairview has gone from allowing 31 points per game in 2018 to under 20 points per game this season so things are humming for the Aggies right now and if they ride this momentum through the next few weeks, they’ll be preparing for round one of the state playoffs.  

(2-4) Vinemont (3A Region 5) vs. (4-3) Locust Fork (3A Region 5)

The Eagles found themselves on top of Fultondale 14-0 at halftime last week but an incredible second half from the Wildcats led to a dramatic comeback and a 36-22 road loss for Vinemont. Now, with three region games left in front of them, the Eagles are headed back home this week to prepare for a big game against Locust Fork. Vinemont fell in last year’s meeting on the road, 38-32.

The Hornets are coming off a 48-18 win over the Holly Pond Broncos, extending their win streak to three games. Locust Fork has outscored its last three opponents by a combined score of 111-38 and is playing the best football it has all season, but Vinemont will be looking to stop the Hornets in their tracks Friday night. The Eagles have had great halves this season on both sides of the ball but if they can sustain that performance for four quarters this week against Locust Fork, they’ll have a shot to knock off the Hornets and get back into the thick of the playoff race in region 5. 

(1-6) Holly Pond (3A Region 5) vs. (1-5) J.B. Pennington (3A Region 5)

The Broncos were handed a tough loss at Locust Fork last week and fell to 1-3 in the region, but they have another region foe coming to town this week in J.B. Pennington. The Tigers have had their own struggles this fall, bringing a 1-5 record into Friday’s matchup, but collected their first win of the season, 22-20, over Cleveland last week. Holly Pond fell 28-0 in last year’s matchup in Blountsville so the Broncos will be hungry to turn things around in 2019.

J.B. Pennington has been held to seven points or fewer in four of its six games so far this season and is scoring fewer than 10 points per contest offensively. However, Holly Pond has had some trouble on the defensive end so far this fall and is allowing over 35 points per game so we could be looking at a high-scoring affair between the Broncos and Tigers Friday night.

Look for previews on Cold Springs, West Point, Good Hope and Addison in Thursday’s edition of The Cullman Tribune.

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