PREP FOOTBALL: Local teams preparing for region finales this week

Fairview’s Eli Frost (3), Arab’s Wes Johnson (8) and Cullman’s Noah Kee (22). (Martha Needham & Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – This year’s regular season is coming to a close and the playoff picture is becoming a little clearer with each passing week. Several local squads have already secured postseason berths and are playing to improve their position while others are looking for a big win this week to earn their way in. Cullman, Good Hope, Hanceville, Holly Pond and Cold Springs will be on the road Friday night while Arab, Fairview, West Point, Vinemont, Addison and Meek will stay home to host region finales.

Cullman (7-2) at Muscle Shoals (7-1)

The Bearcats are putting together another excellent season and they still have a chance to host a playoff game in the opening round if they can knock off the Muscle Shoals Trojans on the road this week. The Trojans have lost just one game this season to the unbeaten Hartselle Tigers and have dominated most of their opponents, scoring nearly 40 points per game and allowing just 18 points per game. Cullman is riding a six-game win streak coming into the matchup and has been stellar on the defensive side of the ball, limiting opponents to 12 points per game. The ‘Cats also defeated Muscle Shoals in a 30-29 thriller last season. Friday night’s test will be one of the toughest of the season so far but if they can continue riding their momentum and shutting down opposing offenses, the Bearcats will have a chance to finish second in Region 8 and host the opening round of the state playoffs.

Arab (6-2) v. Springville (4-4)

The Knights dropped a heavy weight bout with Oxford a couple of weeks ago but after using a bye week to rest up and refocus, they’ll be back on their home field Friday night for the region finale against Springville. Arab punched its ticket to the postseason earlier in the year but a win over the Tigers this week would secure a home game in the opening round. Springville edged the Knights 35-34 in the final game of last year’s regular season so the Knights will be looking for some revenge when the Tigers arrive in Arab Friday night. The Knights have been smothering opponents all season, allowing just 11 points per game and if they put together another one of those performances this week, they’ll have a great chance to take down Springville.

Fairview (7-1) v. Sardis (1-7)

The Aggies blew past the Brewer Patriots 55-14 last week and they’re looking for a repeat performance when they host Sardis Friday night. Fairview will take on Sardis in its region finale this week and can secure a home game in round one with a win. This year hasn’t gone according to plan for the Lions. They picked up their first win last week over Crossville but dropped their first seven contests of the season. Opponents are scoring 35 points per game against Sardis this year and the Aggies’ offense is coming to town averaging 43 points per game. If Fairview’s offense can continue to move up and down the field, the Aggies will have a good chance to pick up another with another win Friday night.

West Point (5-3) v. Guntersville (7-1)

Douglas pulled away late in the fourth quarter to defeat West Point last week, but the Warriors will have to regroup and prepare for one of their biggest games of the season Friday night. The top team in Region 7, Guntersville, is coming to West Point this week and the Wildcats should present one of the biggest challenges the Warriors have faced all season. Guntersville is putting up 44 points per game and has dominated nearly all of its other region opponents. West Point has been solid on the defensive side of the ball this year but hasn’t had as much success finding the end zone on offense. It’ll take the best performance that the Warriors have put together all season but if they can pull it off, they’ll have a chance to knock off the high-powered Wildcats Friday night.

Good Hope (7-2) at Oneonta (8-1)

After dropping their season opener to West Morgan and having to forfeit their next game to West Point, the Good Hope Raiders have won seven straight and have been getting better each in their pursuit of a region title. All they need now is a win at Oneonta this week and they’ll be this year’s Region 6 champions. Good Hope hammered the Redskins 34-7 last season so Oneonta will be ready to play when the Raiders arrive Friday night. Good Hope is holding its opponents to fewer than 15 points per game this year, but the Redskins’ offense has been putting over 33 points per game on the board. This week’s matchup is sure to be another tight game for the Raiders but they have found a way to win tight games all year so if they can find it a way to do it again, they’ll return to Good Hope Friday night as region champs.

Hanceville (2-6) at Section (4-4)

The Bulldogs have dropped three straight and have scored just six points in their last three games combined so they’re looking for a bounce back performance at Section this week. Hanceville dominated last year’s game against the Lions 36-8. Section is much improved on the defensive side this season, limiting opponents to just 18 points per game so the Bulldogs will need to find their rhythm early if they want to keep pace with Section. Injuries have made it tough for Hanceville to be consistent on the offensive side of the ball but if the Bulldogs can get the running game going and limit the offense of the Lions, they’ll have a chance to pick up another win and build some momentum going into the regular season finale.

Vinemont (3-5) v. Holly Pond (3-5)

The Eagles and Broncos are set to renew their rivalry Friday night and this year’s meeting will have some playoff implications. Holly Pond’s region record will keep it from the postseason this year, but Vinemont can still earn a playoff spot with a win over the Broncos this week. The Eagles won last year’s matchup 38-12 and leads the all-time series 24-22. Vinemont has dealt with some inconsistency on the defensive side of the ball, allowing 34 points per game this season and Holly Pond is coming to town putting up 24 points per game. The Broncos and Eagles both have better records on the road than at home this fall so you would think the road team would have the advantage this week, but you have to throw out some numbers when you talk about rivalry games. Regardless of how the first eight weeks have gone, this week’s meeting between Vinemont and Holly Pond is set to be another classic battle between county rivals.

Cold Springs (0-8) at Lamar County (6-2)

The Eagles’ JV team capped off an undefeated season earlier this week, but this year hasn’t gone according to plan for the varsity squad. Cold Springs is still looking for its first win and this week’s road trip to Lamar County won’t be an easy one. The Bulldogs have won four of their last five games coming into this matchup and have been holding opponents to just 11 points per game this year. The Eagles have struggled on the offensive side of the ball so far this season and will be up against a strong defense Friday night. It’ll take a special performance on both sides of the ball but if Cold Springs can do that, it’ll have a chance to pick up its first win of the season on the road.

Addison (5-4) v. Sulligent (4-4)

The Addison Bulldogs are right in the middle of a heated battle for playoff spots in Region 5 and a win this week over Sulligent would go a long way toward securing one of them. Addison knocked off 4A Hamilton in a 22-21 homecoming nail-biter last week so the Bulldogs should have some confidence coming into Friday night’s matchup with the Blue Devils. Sulligent is coming off a 21-7 loss to Lamar County and like Addison, is in desperate need of a region win to improve its playoff resume. The Bulldogs are 3-1 on their home field this season while the Blue Devils are 1-2 on the road so if Addison can help extend that trend, it’ll have a chance to pick up a crucial region win in the regular season finale.

Meek (5-3) v. Berry (2-6)

The Tigers are going back to the state playoffs for the first time since 2017 but before they turn their attention to that, they have a chance to pick up another win over a region foe Friday night. Meek will host the Berry Wildcats this week and will look to turn the tables after dropping last year’s matchup in Berry 43-6. The Wildcats have lost four of their last five games and have struggled on the offensive side of the ball this season, scoring just 15 points per game. The Tigers are coming off a road loss to a strong Pickens County team but have won two of their last three and are unbeaten at home this season. If they can continue to control the game on their home field, the Tigers will have a good chance to pick up win number six and build some momentum before the postseason begins in a couple of weeks.

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