PREP FOOTBALL: Massive region matchups coming in week 6

West Point’s Kelton Washington (23), Fairview’s Tyler Simmons (24) and Good Hope’s Eli Pugh (44). (Bill Piper, Martha Needham and Maddie McKenney/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Local teams are preparing to kick off the second half of the regular season this week and there are some critical region showdowns coming up with the postseason right around the corner. Cullman, West Point, Hanceville and Meek will be on the road to face region foes while Addison, Vinemont, Fairview and the undefeated, fifth-ranked Good Hope Raiders will be playing regional matchups at home. Holly Pond was scheduled to travel to Tarrant this week, but quarantine issues have brought the season to an early end for the Wildcats, giving the Broncos a forfeit and an off week. Arab was set to take on Pell City in a region matchup this week but the Panthers have been forced to forfeit as well and the Knights will now play Locust Fork in a game that will impact neither teams’ overall record.

(5-1) Cullman at (0-5) Decatur

Last Friday was not a great night for the Bearcats. Cullman fell to Mars Hill on the road 22-6 but worse than that, the ‘Cats were forced to play without defensive coordinator Matt Hopper who left early in the game after suffering a heart attack on the sideline. Hopper underwent a successful procedure in Florence Friday night and even surprised the team with a visit to practice on Tuesday. Hopefully knowing that Hopper is recovering well will make things easier on the Bearcats when they arrive at Decatur Friday night. There is plenty to clean up from last week’s game including turnovers, special teams and penalties so expect the ‘Cats to come out and play angry against the Red Raiders. Bouncing back with a win this week would be a great way to get back on track and stay atop the region standings with Muscle Shoals.

(4-3) Arab v. (2-3) Locust Fork

The Knights have been hot since edging Southside 28-27 a couple weeks ago. Arab kept the momentum going by crushing Brewer 42-7 and win Pell City’s forfeit this week, the Knights have now collected three straight wins. This week’s make-up game against Locust Fork will not count toward either team’s record but it’s important for Arab to continue improving on the field with some huge region games still left in front of them. The Hornets downed Hanceville 38-7 last week, but it was only their third game of the season as Locust Fork has dealt with quarantine problems of its own this fall. Even though it won’t add to the win column, Arab will be trying to keep its momentum rolling with another good performance in this game.

(0-5) West Point at (0-5) Crossville

It’s been a tough first half of the season for the West Point Warriors. If the ball bounced a different way on a few different occasions, the Warriors could easily be 5-0. Instead, they are still winless on the season after dropping five competitive games. This week they’ll be traveling to take on another winless team in Crossville, but the Lions have been less competitive in most of their losses. Teams are putting up nearly 37 points per game against Crossville this season and the Lions will have their hands full with the West Point offense Friday night. If the Warriors can put together a solid performance on the defensive side and continue putting points on the board, they’ll have a great chance to pick up their first win at Crossville this week.

(4-1) Fairview v. (4-2) Boaz

The Aggies have had a week to rest up and prepare for Friday night’s showdown with Boaz, but they’ll be facing a Pirates team that’s coming off a dramatic loss. Boaz fell to Albertville 34-33 in 2OT last week. Fairview edged county rival West Point 28-27 in its last game and another region win for the Aggies this week would have a big impact on the region standings. Back to back region wins would be a great wave of momentum to ride into the remainder of the regular season as Fairview begins building its playoff resume. The Aggies are 0-8 all-time against Boaz so they could make a little school history with a win as well.

(6-0) Good Hope v. (3-2) Etowah

For the first time since 2000, the Good Hope Raiders are 6-0 and they climbed to no. 5 in this week’s Class 4A state poll. Good Hope blasted Addison 49-15 to collect its sixth win last week but they have a new challenge coming to town this week in the Etowah Blue Devils. Etowah and Good Hope are both 2-0 in the region standings so this week’s showdown will be critical for playoff seeding down the road. The Blue Devils are coming off a 35-21 loss at Fort Payne last week, so they’ll have a sense of urgency when they hit the field looking to bounce back at Good Hope Friday night. This week’s matchup is the first of four straight region games to close out the regular season for the Raiders so this will be the most important stretch of the year for Good Hope.

(1-4) Hanceville at (3-3) Oneonta

The Bulldogs have another difficult road test ahead of them this week as they prepare to face the latter half of their regular season schedule. Hanceville will travel to Oneonta this week for a meeting with the Redskins who have won three straight. After falling to Etowah four weeks ago, Oneonta has won its last three games against Ashville, Dora and Susan Moore. The Redskins are just ahead of the Bulldogs in the region with a 2-1 record so Hanceville could shake things up in the region standings with a win Friday night. The Bulldogs have shown the ability to be explosive on the offensive side of the ball this season and they’ll need some big plays this week for a shot to take down the Redskins.

(3-2) Vinemont v. (5-1) Winfield

It’s been two weeks since the Vinemont Eagles were on the field, but they’ll have a tall task ahead of them when they host Winfield for a big regional showdown Friday night. The Pirates are coming off a 52-20 win over Brilliant last week and the last time the Eagles were on the field they crushed Carbon Hill 36-0 so both teams will be entering Friday night’s matchup with some confidence. Vinemont is one of four teams in the region with a 2-1 record so there will be some real movement in the region standings after this week. A win over Winfield on their home field Friday night would secure one of the top spots in the region for the Eagles with the postseason on the horizon.

(3-3) Addison v. (3-2) Cold Springs

Both Addison and Cold Springs are going into Friday night’s region matchup in very similar circumstances. Both the Eagles and Bulldogs are coming off tough losses at home and both of them need a win this week to get the second half of the regular season started with a win. Addison holds a 2-1 region record while Cold Springs sits at 1-1 so Friday night’s outcome will have real postseason implications. The ground game behind running back Ayden Alexander has been the bread and butter for the Eagles’ offense this season so the front seven of Addison will definitely be focusing on that this week. Something will have to give when Cold Springs arrives at A.G. Hicks Stadium for a regional showdown Friday night.

(0-5) Meek at (1-4) Marion County After using last week to rest up and refocus for the second half of the regular season, the Tigers of Meek will be on the road this week for a regional matchup with Marion County. The Red Raiders have lost three straight coming into Friday night’s matchup, but they’ll be coming off a bye week as well. Both teams should be rested and hungry for a win and for the Tigers, this week’s game might be one of their last chances to turn the momentum around for the final stretch of the regular season.

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