PREP FOOTBALL: Local teams set to kick off region play this week

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Fairview’s Tyler Simmons (24), Cullman’s Jamar Kay (21) and Vinemont’s Colby Miller (1). (Martha Needham, Joe McElroy & Christy Parker for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – With the first two weeks of football season officially in the books, its time for our local teams to begin region play and there’s a full slate of regional matchups set to kick off Friday night. Cullman will return home to face the hated Hartselle Tigers, Fairview will host Guntersville in a massive Region 7 showdown, Good Hope will be back home to take on Ashville, Vinemont and Holly Pond will host J.B. Pennington and Oakman respectively while Addison and Meek prepare to host Aliceville and Brilliant in two more big region games. Arab, Hanceville, West Point and Cold Springs will all be on the road this week for matchups against Fort Payne, Fultondale, Lawrence County and Sulligent respectively.

Cullman (1-1) v. Hartselle (2-0)

The ‘Cats had to hit the road for a big rivalry game with the Jasper Vikings last week and after narrowly falling to the Vikings 20-16 in the final minutes, they will now prepare to host another big rival in their region opener. Hartselle is coming to Oliver Woodard Stadium Friday night with a 2-0 record and plans to win Region 8 this season so Cullman will have to play its best game of the year so far to take down the Tigers. The Bearcats won last year’s meeting in Hartselle 30-20 so the Tigers will be seeking some revenge as well. Hartselle has defeated its first two opponents, Austin and Mae Jemison, by a combined score of 70-0 so Cullman hopes to be the first team to find the endzone against the Tigers and find a way to knock off one of the strongest teams in the region. If the ‘Cats can continue to find yardage in the running game and efficiency in the passing game, they’ll have a solid chance of collecting a big win this week, but they’ll have to play well in all phases to take down their old rival.

Arab (1-1) at Fort Payne (0-2)

The Knights fell just short of a massive win on the road at Guntersville last week, falling behind late in the fourth quarter and eventually losing to the Wildcats 29-21. Now, Arab will look to bounce back for yet another road matchup, this time with the Wildcats of Fort Payne. The Wildcats are entering Friday night’s game with an 0-2 record after falling to Athens 41-40 in their season opener and to Gadsden City 34-10 last week. Defense has been a bit of an issue for Fort Payne early in the season and the Knights hope to take advantage of that with their explosive running game. Arab fell to Fort Payne at home 28-7 last season so the Knights will be excited to hit the field Friday night and turn the tables this fall.

Fairview (2-0) v. Guntersville (1-1)

In what is one of the week’s most anticipated matchups, the Fairview Aggies will host Guntersville at Dafford Smith Stadium Friday night for a game that could go a long way in determining the winner of Region 7 in a few weeks. Guntersville defeated the Aggies 48-12 last season and went on to claim the 5A, Region 7 championship. This time around, Fairview has different plans. The Aggies have won their first two games over D.A.R and Vinemont by a combined score of 104-49 but Friday night’s contest is set to be the toughest yet. Guntersville split its first two games, falling to Handley in the season opener and pulling away from Arab late last week but this week’s matchup will be the biggest so far for both squads as they each chase this year’s Region title.

West Point (1-0) at Lawrence County (0-1)

West Point was awarded the win over Good Hope last week after the Raiders were forced to forfeit due to Covid-19 cases, but this week will be the first chance for the Warriors to get back out on the field for a non-region matchup. West Point will travel to Lawrence County for an important game Friday night, looking to get off to a fast start. The Warriors did compete in a jamboree game against Priceville two weeks ago, defeating the Bulldogs 19-14 and they’ll be looking for their next victory when they arrive at Lawrence County Friday. The Red Devils edged West Point 31-28 last season so the Warriors will be hungry for some revenge on the gridiron this week.

Good Hope (0-2) v. Ashville (1-1)

The Raiders were unable to play at West Point last week due to an outbreak of Covid-19 cases, but they’ll be back on the field this week when Ashville comes to James W. Shabel Stadium for a big region opener. After topping Oak Grove in their season opener 14-6, the Bulldogs fell to Southeastern 41-19 last week to fall to 1-1 on the season. The Raiders dropped their season opener against West Morgan 34-28 two weeks ago but with a couple weeks of rest under their belts and the goal of winning a Region 6 title, Good Hope will be ready to face Ashville Friday night. The Raiders hammered the Bulldogs 47-13 last season, and they plan to pick up another big win over Ashville in 2021.

Hanceville (1-0) at Fultondale (0-2)

After toppling Vinemont 28-16 in their season opener, the Hanceville Bulldogs enjoyed an off-week and will now hit the road for their region opener at Fultondale Friday night. The Wildcats have dropped their first two games of the season, falling to John Carroll 27-0 and Munford 21-0 so they’re still looking for their first points of the year. Hanceville’s defense kept the Eagles in check most of the night in the season opener and the Bulldogs will be looking for another great performance out of that unit Friday night. Hanceville took last year’s meeting over Fultondale at Ray Talley Stadium 43-34, and they’ll be looking for another big, region win on the road this week.

Vinemont (0-2) v. J.B. Pennington (1-0)

The start to the 2021 season hasn’t gone exactly the way the Vinemont Eagles envisioned. The Eagles dropped their first two games of the season to county rivals Hanceville and Fairview, but they have an opportunity to make a new start this week in the region opener against J.B. Pennington. The Tigers edged Oak Grove on the road 21-20 last week and they’ll be looking for a regional victory when they arrive at Vinemont Friday night. The Eagles dropped last year’s matchup with J.B. Pennington 54-0, but they plan on turning the tables on the Tigers when they hit the field this week.

Holly Pond (2-0) v. Oakman (1-1)

It’s been a fun two weeks for the Holly Pond Broncos. The Broncos have dominated their first two matchups of the season, defeating Brindlee Mountain 53-0 and Cold Springs 31-0. Now, Holly Pond will be preparing for a region showdown this week when Oakman comes to town. The Wildcats fell to Gordo 29-7 in their season opener but bounced back with a 66-18 win at Curry last week. Oakman dominated last season’s meeting 40-16 so the Broncos will be looking for a little revenge when they hit the field to play the Wildcats Friday night. Holly Pond is 2-0 for the first time since 2018 and if the Broncos can get another win Friday, they’ll be 3-0 for the first time since 2004.

Cold Springs (0-2) at Sulligent (1-1)

Cold Springs has not gotten off to the start it planned on having this season, falling to Meek and Holly Pond in its first two games of the year, but the Eagles have an opportunity to make a new start in their region opener this week. Cold Springs will hit the road and head out to Sulligent for a big region matchup this week and plans to return home with a big region win. The Blue Devils took their season opener over East Lawrence 28-7 but dropped last week’s game at Hamilton 37-22. Both teams are hungry for a win this week and after edging Sulligent 21-19 last year, the Eagles should be prepared for another tight game with the Blue Devils Friday night.

Addison (2-0) v. Aliceville (1-1)

After collecting a 28-0 win on the road over Lynn last week, the Addison Bulldogs will return home Friday night to open up region play against Aliceville. The Yellow Jackets were awarded a forfeit win over Greene County in their season opener and fell to Gordo 40-31 last week. Now, they’ll head to Addison for a massive regional showdown with the Bulldogs. Last year’s clash between these two was an instant classic that Aliceville won 36-34 in overtime. The Yellow Jackets would go on to win the region title last fall so Addison has plans to change that this time around. A win over Aliceville would be a huge step toward a postseason berth and maybe even a region title for the Bulldogs so they’ll be excited to hit the field Friday night.

Meek (1-1) v. Brilliant (0-1)

The 2021 season has gotten off to a solid start for the Tigers. They hammered Cold Springs 40-6 in their season opener to get this year started with a win and narrowly fell to Winston County on the road 28-22 in double overtime last week. This week, Meek will return home to open up region play against the Tigers of Brilliant. Brilliant lost to Hackleburg on the road in its season opener and will be back on the road this week for its regional matchup with Meek. Brilliant downed Meek 55-30 last season so Friday night’s will be another “revenge game” opportunity for the Tigers of Meek.

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