TALLADEGA - Something that is most common in watching NASCAR compete at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday did not happen.
The largest track on the circuit did not experience the commonly known "Big One." A multiple accident in the late stages of the Monster Energy NASCAR cup race, whether it's in the spring or during the fall season.
But that didn't keep the overflow crowd of fans on the edge of their seats.
A minor accident involving three cars at lap 185, sent the 1000bulbs.com race into overtime.
That presented the thrill of victory to one driver and the agony of defeat to others.
Races at Talladega, under NASCAR rules, are to be completed under a green flag. This caused a re-start with the race being extended by five laps, finishing on lap 193.
This situation benefited Aric Almirola, the winner. It didn't for Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keslowski.
Busch, who dominated the race, leading 108 laps, ran out of fuel on the final lap and coasted to a 14th place finish.
Harvick and Keslowski had to go into the pits and get a splash of fuel at the start of the final lap, that took them from the chance of crossing the line first.
Drivers, with their crew chiefs, run gambles. Had it not been for overtime, Busch would have had to fight off Harvick and Keslowski from making a hard charge to the checkered stripe.
But Almirola, one of four vehicles owned by Stewart-Hass racing, was able to stretch his fuel and make it count, passing Busch on the backstretch and leading for the only time of the day. That would be the last lap of the fall race at Talladega.
It was a turn of events for Almirola, who was at the top of the lead for much of the previous race in Dover. But an accident late in the event kept him from entering victory lane.
In seeing several races at this sports spectacular in East Alabama, my first since 2001, the drivers displayed more discipline than many give them credit in running at Talladega.
The 2.66 mile oval allows cars to go three wide and sometimes, four wide, especially in the backstretch.
One slight error can result in the common item, a crash that can take out 20 vehicles in one segment.
All accidents Sunday were due to the driver losing control of the vehicle, not getting hit by another to cause a chain reaction.
A majority of the race consisted of single-file running for an average of the Top 10 drivers per lap.
It was in the late stages of the race where it was hot and heavy, thanks to a gap caused by four of the Stewart-Hass vehicles, being pursued by the rest of the field.
In attending my first fall race at Talladega, plus seeing the new format NASCAR has here in the race going under stages. Stage 1 ends at lap 55, Stage 2 is completed at lap 110, then a re-start with everyone in contention for the final 78 laps to complete a total of 188 laps, 500 miles.
Busch was the dominant driver for the first stage, Harvick stayed atop the field for Stage 2 and both were where they wanted to be prior to the accident on lap 185 and overtime stepping into play.
Almirola is an unsung hero. Taking over car No. 10 that had been driven in recent years by Danica Patrick, Almirola hung near the front all day and was able to cash in on the opportunity on unfortunate luck caused by the overtime procedure.
I can endure Kurt Busch as far as his ability to battle it out with the best each Sunday. It is his brother, Kyle, that is not a favorite of mine in this sport. Or in the case, others too.
When the driver's introduction took place, Kyle received a huge sound of boos. There is fans who pull for him in car No. 18, but many don't, due to Busch being at times, overly aggressive and carries an attitude to say the least.
With Dale Jr and Jeff Gordon now a memory for retirement, a lot of NASCAR fans express tremendous love toward Jimmy Johnson, a veteran of the sport, as well as Harvick, Joey Logano, Keslowski, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamiln.
Then you have young rising racers like Chase Elliott (son of legend Bill Elliott), Trevor Bayne, William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones, trying to make a name for themselves.
Almirola will now embed his name in the list of first time winners at the "World's Fastest Speedway." handling the issue with precision. His memory of failure in Dover has been erased for being in the right place at the right time in Talladega.
Racing at Talladega in the fall and especially on the same weekend in which Alabama and Auburn played football games at home, never phased the situation as far as attendance.
Capacity is 78,000 for the largest speedway in NASCAR. So for back to back days of exciting fall sports in this state, three events combined for 265,000 fans on hand.
This was a twist of fate for me to see a race here for the first time in 17 years.
I follow NASCAR as well as I can in a busy schedule of going from football to volleyball and cross country for the fall in my backyard.
With the ending being dramatic thanks to overtime, this will cause me to pay more attention to it for the remainder of the season.
NASCAR now has a playoff format, with Talladega being the seventh race of the structure in the total of 12. The playoff run began on Labor Day weekend with the race at Darlington and has been to Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Richmond, Charlotte and Dover before the second Sunday visiting Alabama.
Now Almirola and company will be bound for Kansas Speedway next weekend as the run for the playoffs continue. The season ends in approximately a month at Homestead-Miami speedway.
The Midwest will get to enjoy a weekend of excitement that was just put on display here in good ole Alabama.
Photo 1: Pink pace car leads Kurt Busch and others off Turn 4 at Talladega.
Photo 2: Brad Keslowski's car prior to race time in the pits.
Photo 3: Joey Logano leaves the pits during an early caution in Talladega.
Photo 4: Lyn St. James being interviewed prior to race. St. James set a record at Talladega for fastest speed by woman driver at 204.233 mph in 1985.
Photo 5: NASCAR fan Debbie Stapler of Arab watching the Lyn St. James interview near the finish line at Talladega, before the race.
Photo 6: Pole sitter Kurt Busch (41) in the pits during pre-race situation.
Photo 7: Crew taking Jimmy Johnson's #48 to pit lane prior to start of Sunday race.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
Cullman County High School volleyball tournament
At Vinemont Gymnasium
# 4 Good Hope vs. # 5 Vinemont 3:00 (Court 1)
# 3 Cold Springs vs. # 6 Holly Pond 3:00 (Court 2)
# 1 West Point vs. GH/VM winner 4:00 (Court 1)
# 2 Fairview vs. # 7 Hanceville 4:00 (Court 2)
Elimination bracket game 5:00 (Court 1)
CS/HP winner vs. FV/HV winner 5:00 (Court 2)
Elimination bracket game 6:00 (Court 1)
Elimination bracket game 6:00 (Court 2)
Elimination bracket game 3:00 (Court 1)
Winner's final 4:00 (Court 1)
Elimination bracket game 5:00 (Court 1)
Championship 6:00 (Court 1)
If needed game 7:00 (Court 1)
Cold Springs: Lady Eagles # 3 seed. 26-6 record as of Oct. 12.
Champions in St. Bernard Invitational Sept. 15. Have won 16 in a row after victory over Southeastern Oct. 11.
Key personnel: S Emi Harbison, OH Emma Chambers, OH Anna Kate Voce, BRD Kinley Campbell.
Lady Eagles have blended together through the season for coach Brendan Voce, earning a Top 10 ranking in Class 2A. They will be hosting the Area 12 Tournament Oct. 22.
Fairview Lady Aggies # 2 seed. 34-12 record as of Oct. 12.
Champions in Decatur Heritage Invitational Oct. 6. 6-3 record in October. Longest winning streak was 11 between Sept. 4 and Sept. 11.
Key personnel: OH Daisy Manasco, OH Micah Means, OH Katie Ball, MH Tess Bailey. Lady Aggies had been without Means for a couple of weeks with foot injury. The coaches' daughter was to return to action Oct. 11 in a quad match at home vs. Ashville, Susan Moore and Holly Pond.
Fairview is the defending county champion.
Good Hope Lady Raiders # 4 seed. 12-16 record as of Oct. 11.
Lady Raiders have upset 4A Top 10 team Priceville on the season and knocked Oneonta out of a 1st place tie in 4A, Area last week.
Key personnel: S Chrissi Smith, S Sylar Tucker, OH Alee Jackson, MH Jesse Kent, OH Abi Orton.
Good Hope has been a very competitive squad all season, despite not having a winning record. Jackson, Kent, Orton have raised their level of play in the last several weeks.
Hanceville Lady Bulldogs # 7 seed. 0-12 record as of Oct. 12.
Holly Pond Lady Broncos # 6 seed. 3-18 record as of Oct. 11.
Key personnel: MH Makenna Folds, S Kara Hollis, LH Cassandra Carter, MH Maddie Heatherly.
Vinemont Lady Eagles # 5 seed. 14-13 record as of Oct. 11.
Lady Eagles are having a winning season for the first time in several years, prior to hosting the county tournament.
Key personnel: S Maddie Oliver, OH Rachel Hall, OH Liv Johnson, RH Sadie Stanley.
West Point Lady Warriors # 1 seed. 34-3 record as of Oct. 12.
Lady Warriors ranked 4th in last week's 5A state Top 10. Had won 20 consecutive matches prior to losses to # 7 Lawrence County and # 8 East Limestone. The Lady Warriors regrouped last Saturday in winning the Falkville Invitational. It was their third championship they have claimed in the fall.
Key personnel: MH Lexi Shadix, OH Mackenzie Carter, S Selena Clark, MH Josie Huckaby, OH Molly Pendley.
West Point has gone through county competition without a loss so far prior to the county tournament.
WEEK 8 SCOREBOARD:
Good Hope 23, Haleyville 7
Fairview 31, West Morgan 14
Locust Fork 38, Vinemont 32
J.B. Pennington 28, Holly Pond 0
Winston Co 40, Cold Springs 8
Muscle Shoals 47, Cullman 17
Dora 50, West Point 29
Addison 43, Tanner 18
HOW THE TEAMS STAND IN REGION PLAY:
Cold Springs: Eagles 2-2 in 2A, R 5, currently in 4th place.
Cullman: Bearcats are 1-3 in 6A, R 7, currently in 5th place.
Fairview: Aggies are 2-3 in 4A, R 7, currently in 5th place.
Good Hope: Raiders are 3-1 in 4A, R 5,currently tied for 3rd place.
Hanceville: Bulldogs are 0-4 in 3A, R 5, currently in last place.
Holly Pond: Broncos are 2-3 in 3A, R 5, currently in 4th place.
Vinemont: Eagles are 1-3 in 3A, R 5, currently in 5th place.
West Point: Warriors are 0-4 in 5A, R 7, currently in last place.
Addison: Bulldogs are 3-1 in 2A, R 7, currently tied for 1st place.
FIRST TIME VICTORY ENJOYABLE:
Good Hope got its first ever win against Haleyville, thanks to big time plays from the defense and 10 points in a span of 2:00 in the 4th quarter to break open the game.
The Raiders went up 16-7 on a 29-yard Walter Perez FG with 9:10 left, then a 63-yard TD run by Colton Bagwell with 7:14 remaining, presented them with an insurance score. The Raiders forced the Lions into throwing 2 interceptions in the second half and stopping them two other times on fourth down plays, one inside the 1-yard line in the 3rd quarter.
REPLAY DOES WORK:
Instant replay is being used by less than 10 percent of schools sanctioned by the Alabama High School Athletic Association. But the process is working. Two plays were under review in the Haleyville-Good Hope game, with neither being overturned after the referee reviewed the video.
The Raiders stopped Haleyville on a fourth and goal play inside the Good Hope 1 early in the third period, then correctly threw a pass on a fourth down from inside the Raider 10, when the Lions challenged on the catch being made by an eligible receiver. Four times so far in games played at Good Hope have been replayed this season, with the call by the officials remaining in favor for the Raiders.
Good Hope has one home game left on November 2 vs. Hanceville for instant replay to be used.
WIN BY AGGIES KEEPS THEM IN THE PLAYOFF CHASE:
A week after getting thumped 78-12 by North Jackson, Fairview is still alive for a possible playoff berth out of 4A, Region 7. The Aggies rallied from a 14-8 halftime deficit to defeat West Morgan 31-14, improving to 2-3 in regional play and 3-4 for the season. North Jackson is on top of the regional standings, followed by Randolph, DAR and St. John Paul.
The Aggies will need to upset Randolph at Dafford Smith Stadium next week, followed by win at Danville, in order to be a playoff team in their return to the 4A level for the first time in five years.
GETTING TIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE REGION:
Addison got some help from Red Bay Friday evening, when the Tigers stunned Colbert County 12-7. It knocked Colbert from an undefeated role in 2A, Region 7. Colbert is 4-1 with Addison 3-1, Red Bay 3-1, Sheffield 2-2, Hatton 2-3, Tanner 1-3 and Tharptown 0-4.
Key games in this region next week include Colbert County playing Sheffield, Red Bay taking on Tanner with Addison playing at Tharptown. The Bulldogs host Hatton on October 26 to close out the regional schedule and also end the regular season.
UNTOUCHABLE AT HOME:
So far in 2018, Good Hope is 4-0 at home, the only team in Sportspage's coverage area to be undefeated in that category. The Raiders will look for perfection on November 2 at James Shabel Stadium when rival Hanceville comes to visit.
GETTING THE BEST OF ANOTHER COUNTY:
Fairview has enjoyed defeating two schools from Morgan County in two tries. The Aggies shut out Priceville on September 21, then posted a 31-14 comeback victory Friday at West Morgan. Fairview will look to go 3-0 against their neighboring school system when they travel to Danville October 26 to end 4A, Region 7 play.
FAILING TO SCORE FOR FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS IN REGULAR SEASON PLAY:
Holly Pond failed to put points on the scoreboard in a 28-0 loss at J.B. Pennington Friday night. It was the first time since a 40-0 loss to Fairview on September 25, 2015, ending a string of 32 consecutive regular season games in which the Broncos had scored.
ANOTHER LOSS ON THE EAGLES' RECORD:
Starting the season at 4-0, the Cold Springs Eagles have gone in the opposite direction with three consecutive losses. The 40-8 defeat at home Friday night to Winston County is very damaging, putting the Eagles from 2nd in 2A, Region 5 to 4th, heading into a game next week at Tarrant.
UNABLE TO HOLD THE LEAD:
In a see-saw battle, Vinemont turned a 9-6 halftime deficit with Locust Fork into a 26-9 lead in the third quarter. Locust Fork would answer, going ahead 30-26 in the fourth period before Vinemont rallied and led 32-30 with 7:00 to play. However, the Eagles could not stay in front, giving up a TD and 2-point conversion with 1:39 left and the Hornets won it 38-32. The loss has the Eagles 1-3 in 3A, Region 5, currently in 5th place a half game behind Holly Pond's 2-3 record.
NEXT WEEK IN REGIONAL PLAY WITH PLAYOFF IMPLICATION:
Cold Springs at Tarrant: Eagles visit the Wildcats who are 3-1 and 2nd in 2A, R 5 behind leader Aliceville (5-0). Eagles are 2-2, going from 2nd to 4th from the loss to Winston County on homecoming.
Good Hope at Curry: Two squads that are 3-1 in 4A, R 5. Raiders only loss has been to Northside (4-1). Curry lost to Fayette County (4-0). Fayette County plays Haleyville next week, Northside is idle. Raiders have a visit to Fayette County the week following the Curry game.
Randolph at Fairview: Aggies (2-3) have to take down the No. 2 squad from 4A, R 7 on the home turf. A loss to the visitors from Huntsville will eliminate them from the postseason.
Pennington at Vinemont: Pennington is right in contention at 3-1, tied for 2nd with Midfield who lost to Fultondale 20-14 Friday. Fultondale (4-0) plays at Hanceville (0-4) the same time the Eagles (1-3) entertain the Tigers. A win would give them the same record as Holly Pond (2-3) who is idle and will host Vinemont the following Friday.
Addison at Tharptown: Bulldogs (3-1) will tangle with an 0-4 club in Northwest Alabama, trying to stay at the top of 2A, R 7. Colbert County (4-1) plays Sheffield (2-2) with Red Bay (3-1) getting Tanner (1-3) on the third Friday in October.
Addison wraps up regional play the following week at home vs. Hatton. Bulldogs own tiebreaker with wins against Red Bay and Sheffield, if they finish in a tie. Addison lost the week before to Colbert County, who is down to its final game in the region next week.
Photo of Good Hope defense trying to slow down Haleyville in the 1st quarter Friday.
Sportspage photo by Johnny Thornton
WEEK 7 SCOREBOARD:
Holly Pond 36, Locust Fork 10
Athens 19, Cullman 16 (OT)
Fultondale 33, Vinemont 12
Northside 42, Good Hope 27
Jasper 54, West Point 20
North Jackson 78, Fairview 12
Midfield 70, Hanceville 18
Colbert County 35, Addison 8
Cold Springs - Idle
CURRENT STANDINGS IN REGIONAL PLAY:
Cold Springs: Eagles 2-1 in 2A, R 5 (Tied 2nd with Tarrant)
Cullman: Bearcats 1-2 in 6A, R 7 (5th place)
Fairview: Aggies 1-3 in 4A, R 7 (Tied 5th)
Good Hope: Raiders 2-1 in 4A, R 5 (Tied 3rd)
Hanceville: Bulldogs 0-4 in 3A, R 5 (Last place)
Holly Pond: Broncos 2-2 in 3A, R 5 (4th place)
Vinemont: Eagles 1-2 in 3A, R 5 (5th place)
West Point: Warriors 0-4 in 5A, R 5 (Last place)
Addison: Bulldogs 2-1 in 2A, R 7 (2nd place)
WINNING STREAK ENDS:
Good Hope was the last local team to remain undefeated. It ended for the Raiders after five games with a 42-27 loss in Tuscaloosa County to Northside. The loss dropped the Raiders from a first place tie with Fayette County in the region to a third place tie with Curry. Both teams see one another on October 19 in Curry. Before that, the Raiders next week host Haleyville with Curry on the road to play Cordova.
MOVING AHEAD ON AN OPPONENT:
In posting a 36-10 victory Friday vs. Locust Fork, the Holly Pond Broncos jumped ahead of the Vinemont Eagles who fell to Fultondale 33-12 at Mark Smothers Stadium. The Broncos are 2-2 in the region, trailing J.B. Pennington by one game in the standings. The Tigers are 2-1 and had Friday evening off. Vinemont slipped to fifth place with a record of 1-2.
HEARTBREAKER STRIKES AGAIN:
First-year coach Matt Plunkett has seen his Cullman Bearcats go from emotional last second winning to heartbreaking defeat. Athens knocked off the Bearcats 19-16 in overtime Friday night in 6A, Region 7. The Bearcats have lost two games at home this season in the closing moments on field goals. Mortimer Jordan edged Cullman 18-16 in week two. This one is more painful for Cullman is on the outside looking in for the regional standings. Cullman is 1-2 and tied with Decatur, but the 'Cats lost to the Red Raiders in week three. Hartselle leads the region, followed by Athens and Muscle Shoals, then Decatur for the top four berths to enter the playoffs. Cullman needs to defeat Muscle Shoals and Hartselle in order to punch a ticket to the postseason.
MOMENTUM TAKEN AWAY BY PENALTY:
Vinemont had momentum against 3A, Region 5 co-leader Fultondale when Dustin Moore had an interception returned the length of the field for a touchdown before time expired in the second quarter. But a penalty wiped out the score and the Eagles trailed 13-0 at the break, not 13-7.
Vinemont fumbled inside its 10 on its first play of the third period as Fultondale scored moments later and would score again in the quarter to turn a two-touchdown advantage into a 26-0 lead after the third. The Eagles tallied a pair of TDs in the fourth, scoring on the last play of the contest, falling by the final score of 33-12.
A series of mistakes once again saw the possibility of winning against a ranked opponent become another defeat for the Eagles, who have lost two in a row and three of their last four assignments.
LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK:
Winston County at Cold Springs: Eagles welcome Yellow Jackets to Cranford Stricklin Stadium, trying to hold on to 2nd in 2A, Region 5. Tarrant is tied with the Eagles at 2-1 as the Wildcats play at Sulligent. Region leader Aliceville (4-0) will go to Southeastern (1-2).
Muscle Shoals at Cullman: Bearcats (1-2) have to shake off the effects of the OT loss to Athens, in order to remain in the playoff chase. Muscle Shoals is 2-1, tied for 2nd with Athens. Athens will host 0-3 Columbia. Region 7 leader Hartselle (3-0) visits 1-2 Decatur. Muscle Shoals and Athens have yet to play this season.
Haleyville at Good Hope: Raiders lost ground on being defeated by Northside. Now 2-1 in 4A, Region 5, the Raiders have to fight off pesky Haleyville at home. Good Hope enters next week tied for 3rd with Curry, who defeated Haleyville 27-13 the same night the Raiders lost to Northside. Fayette County stands atop the region at 4-0 and is idle for next Friday. Northside (3-1) gets 0-4 Oak Grove at home, Curry will be playing at Cordova (0-3). Haleyville is 5th overall at 1-2.
Holly Pond at J.B. Pennington: Broncos set their sights on their neighbors from Blountsville. Pennington is 2-1 in 3A, Region 5, a game ahead of the 2-2 Broncos. First place is up for grabs as 4-0 Fultondale entertains 3-0 Midfield. Broncos can slide ahead of the Tigers for third place if they can pull off winning at Sutton Memorial Stadium.
Vinemont at Locust Fork: A must win stares in front of the Eagles in 3A, Region 5. With a 1-2 record, the Eagles dropped to 5th after the loss to Fultondale. Locust Fork is 0-3 in the region following the loss to Holly Pond. Hornets can spoil the Eagles' quest of a postseason berth as Vinemont joins Holly Pond from Cullman County by traveling to Blount County next week.
Tanner at Addison: Bulldogs will take down 2nd in 2A, Region 7 by running the table. Addison is 2-1 with wins over Red Bay and Sheffield. The Bulldogs host a Tanner team that is 1-2 in the region. Colbert County (4-0) visits Red Bay (2-1) in its next game with Sheffield (2-2) having the week off. Hatton (1-3) will host Tharptown (0-3).
5A, Region 7: Jasper (4-0) at Lawrence County (2-2), Hamilton (1-3) at Russellville (4-0), Dora (2-2) at West Point (0-4), Corner (2-2) at Hayden (1-3).
4A, Region 7: North Jackson (4-0) at Priceville (1-3), St. John Paul (3-1) at Randolph (3-1), Danville (0-4) at DAR (2-1), Fairview (1-3) at West Morgan (1-3)
Hanceville is idle.
Photo of Athens' game winning FG in OT vs. Cullman, courtesy of Cullman High School.
BIRMINGHAM - NBA basketball returned to the "Magic City" for the first time in 12 years with an exhibition game Tuesday evening between the Houston Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies.
A crowd of 16,888 gathered inside Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. The game was created by former Houston Rocket Robert Horry, who was also a standout at the University of Alabama.
Under sponsorship by BBVA Compass Bank, the Iron City Showdown was a crowd pleaser in it being the first game for the two clubs in preseason play.
Those who follow the NBA, know the Rockets are a good ball club as they were a game away from reaching the championship series back in June.
The Rockets do have a trio that is talented as the likes of LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durrant. They were the attention getters for this exhibition.
James Harden is one of the premiere shooting guards in the league, being tough to defend since he is left-handed.
Chris Paul has plenty of game left in his 37-year old body, as long as he can stay healthy through a grueling 82-game schedule and four rounds of the postseason.
Carmello Anthony carries plenty of spirit and hard play from his forward position. All these three are wanting to add to their greatness is an NBA championship.
A preseason game was very much the pattern with plenty of personnel getting on to the floor for a two and a half hour contest. Harden appeared for 30 minutes, the most for the Rockets, with Paul getting 25 minutes and Anthony 23 minutes.
The game turned out very entertaining as Houston prevailed 131-115. In what can be considered amazing, the Rockets scored 100 points in the final three quarters. The Grizzlies had 83. The motto of the game was all offense and no defense, the trademark of the NBA.
People in the Magic City did well on this presentation. But in reality, could Birmingham prosper with a professional hoops team?
Basketball is a sport that has love and admiration. It was an opportunity for yours truly to see some of the best players in person. Attending NBA games is not that common, due to Atlanta being three hours away and Memphis a good driving distance from Cullman as well.
But the evening was memorable as the Alabama basketball team, including ex-Cullman standout Lawson Schaffer, came to the game following practice.
Legendary college coaches Wimp Sanderson of Alabama and Sonny Smith of Auburn had a courtside seat on the baseline near the South basket.
Plenty of youngsters wearing a James Harden jersey were there, as well as some wearing a Mike Conley jersey for Memphis.
The atmosphere was pleasing as far as I look at it and glad, I made this my assignment, aside from covering high school volleyball. Volleyball for 2018 has been good with local schools. Hopefully, they will forgive me for changing my schedule for one night. The important events for them are upcoming and yours truly will be there to report on the details.
With NBA preseason now under way, junior colleges in the state began practice this past Monday. The NCAA has been on the floor for about two weeks.
High schools in Alabama can hit the hardwood for fall practice starting October 15 with games to get under way the week of November 6.
Seeing the sport that stands above all that I cover tells me it's time to lace up the tennis shoes, put together a solid schedule of assignments and enjoy what the game does in being very entertaining.
I hope Birmingham can continue to bring in some more NBA games in the future. The plans to try and obtain an NBA franchise is right now a dream.
It's hard to tell if it can become a reality.
We will see how it develops.
Photo 1: Houston's James Harden (13) defends Memphis' Mike Conley (11).
Photo 2: From high above Legacy Arena inside the BJCC Tuesday night.
Photo 3: Houston PG Chris Paul (3) attacks the Memphis defense in 1st quarter.
Photo 4: Memphis trying to get the ball into center Marc Gasol (33).
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton
Week 6 prep scoreboard:
Holly Pond 28, Danville 6
Appalachian 35, Cold Springs 34
Addison 38, Vinemont 12
Hueytown 42, Cullman 7
Curry 27, Hanceville 16
Good Hope - idle
Fairview - idle
West Point - idle
Records heading into October:
Cold Springs: 4-2, 2-1 in 2A, R 5 (2nd)
Cullman: 3-3, 1-1 in 6A, R 7 (T-2nd)
Fairview: 2-3, 1-2 in 4A, R 7 (T-5th)
Good Hope: 5-0, 2-0 in 4A, R 5 (T-1st)
Hanceville: 1-5, 0-3 in 3A, R 5 (Last)
Holly Pond: 4-2, 1-2 in 3A, R 5 (4th)
Vinemont: 2-3, 1-1 in 3A, R 5 (3rd)
West Point: 2-3, 0-3 in 5A, R 7 (Last)
Unable to hold 4th quarter leads:
Victory was unable to be produced for Cold Springs and Hanceville, with both leading their game Friday night in the 4th quarter. Hanceville was up 16-14 on Curry at the start of the period before the Yellow Jackets scored twice and went home with a 27-16 victory, their first ever against the Bulldogs.
Cold Springs broke a tie late in the 4th at Appalachian, but gave up a TD and an extra point, falling 35-34. This was Appalachian's first win of the season and second straight loss for the Eagles after a 4-0 start.
Addison settles the score with Vinemont:
Addison got what it had wanted for 365 days with Vinemont. A chance to even the score. In 2017, the Eagles upset the Bulldogs 28-22 on a last second game winning TD.
Friday night, with it being Addison homecoming, the Bulldogs took care of business 38-12. Addison took a 24-0 lead to the locker room, thanks to a 17-play, 90-yard drive in the second period after the Bulldogs stopped a Vinemont threat at the Addison 10.
Addison scored on the first play of the third quarter to continue its onslaught and finished off the Eagles with a fourth quarter TD, collecting 353 yards total offense, 233 rushing as QB William Guthrie rushed for two touchdowns, threw for a score and caught a TD pass on a fake FG attempt late in the second.
Holly Pond celebrated homecoming Friday by dominating Danvile 28-6 at Thomas-Michelfelder Field. The Broncos join Cullman, Fairview, Good Hope and Vinemont as winners on homecoming evening. Holly Pond's 4-2 record is second best in the county with the Broncos winning 17 of their last 26 games, the best among the schools in the county system.
Losses mount up:
Hanceville has suffered five consecutive defeats after the Bulldogs opened the Cody McCain era August 24 by routing Sumiton Christian 48-14. Cold Springs dropped a 35-34 score to Appalachian, going down for the second consecutive week after they began 2018 with a 4-0 start.
Looking ahead to October football:
Plenty will be up at stake the next four Fridays for October football in the AHSAA. All games will be regional play, with teams determining their fate as far as the playoffs are concerned.
Five schools find themselves in postseason contention when they take in their next assignment.
The contenders are faced with challenging games that can make or break their postseason chances.
Here is what is coming up for the following:
Cullman: Bearcats host Athens Friday in 6A, R 7. Cullman is in a 4-way tie for 2nd in the region at 1-1 with Athens, Decatur and Muscle Shoals. Cullman deals with an Athens team 4-1 overall, coming off a 30-0 shutout of East Limestone. Hartselle is atop Region 7 with a 2-0 record and plays winless Columbia this week in regional action.
Good Hope: Raiders are 2-0 in 4A, R 5, sharing the lead with Fayette County. A first time trip into the Northport area of Tuscaloosa County awaits the Raiders this week, a game with Northside. The Rams are 5-1, 2-1 in the region. Fayette County gets winless Oak Grove on the road. After Northside, the Raiders host Haleyville (1-1), visit Curry (1-1) before they invade Fayette County (3-0). Raiders are having their best success in the fourth season under the command of Alan Scott.
Holly Pond: Broncos take a 1-2 mark from 3A, R 5 into a home game this week with 0-2 Locust Fork. A victory will be what the Broncos are seeking in trying to stay in contention, having games vs. J.B. Pennington and Vinemont on the 12th and 26th to close out regional play.
Vinemont: Eagles get one of the 3A, R 5 co-leaders to visit Mark Smothers Stadium this week. Vinemont host a 5-1 Fultondale squad, who is 3-0 in the region. The Eagles have lost to Midfield and defeated Hanceville in regional games thus far. Vinemont will follow the Fultondale game with matchups at Locust Fork, vs. Pennington and at Holly Pond.
Fairview: Aggies get back to play this week, taking a trip to 4A, R 7 co-leader North Jackson. Chiefs are 3-0 in the region, Aggies 1-2. Aggies face West Morgan (1-2), Randolph (3-0) and Danville (0-3) following the North Jackson assignment.
West Point: Little room for error remains for the Warriors. An 0-3 record in 5A, R 7, West Point plays at 3-0 Jasper, the first ever meeting between the two this week. Warriors have to run the table vs. Jasper, Dora, Corner and Hayden in order to be a playoff qualifier for the fifth consecutive season under Don Farley.
Cold Springs: Eagles get a week off to deal with the pain of a last minute loss to Appalachian. Cold Springs sits 2nd in 2A, R 6 at 2-1, trailing 3-0 Aliceville, a team the Eagles lost to in Week 5. Winston County (1-1) host Aliceville Friday, Tarrant (1-1) entertains Sumiton Christian (1-2), Sulligent (1-2) has a game at home with Southeastern (0-2). Cold Springs will complete region play vs. Winston County October 12, then at Tarrant and vs. Sulligent following the bye week.
Sportspage photo of Good Hope coach Alan Scott by Johnny Thornton
Week 5 scoreboard:
Vinemont 22, Hanceville 14
Cullman 21, Albertville 0
Good Hope 50, Oak Grove 0
Fairview 35, Priceville 0
Russellville 53, West Point 20
Aliceville 54, Cold Springs 6
Fultondale 23, Holly Pond 6
Addison 42, Sheffield 7
Records and regional standings:
Cold Springs: 4-1, 2-1 in 2A, R 5 (2nd)
Cullman: 3-2, 1-1 in 6A, R 7 (T-2nd)
Fairview: 2-3, 1-2 in 4A, R 7 (4th)
Good Hope: 5-0, 2-0 in 4A, R 5 (1st)
Hanceville: 1-4, 0-3 in 3A, R 5 (Last)
Holly Pond: 3-2, 1-2 in 3A, R 5 (5th)
Vinemont: 2-2, 1-1 in 3A, R 5 (T-3rd)
West Point: 2-3, 0-3 in 5A, R 7 (Last)
Addison: 4-1, 2-0 in 2A, R 7 (T-1st)
It's becoming DeJa Vu for Vinemont on how the Eagles win football games. The Eagles claimed their fourth win in two seasons under Stephen Robinson Friday night in a 22-14 triumph over Hanceville. All four wins for the Eagles with Robinson in command have been at Mark Smothers Stadium and have come in the game's final minute. The Eagles broke a 14-14 when Jack Hill hit Hudson Wood for a 31-yard TD with 0:42 remaining and added a 2-point conversion by Dustin Moore for the latest in Eagle dramatics.
Homecoming was celebrated by winning at Vinemont and Fairview, with West Point unable to post victory during the celebration. Vinemont got past Hanceville 22-14, Fairview routed Priceville 35-0. West Point fell 53-20 on homecoming to Russellville.
Three shutouts were the highlight for Week 5 with Good Hope throwing a 50-0 blasting to Oak Grove, Cullman getting a 21-0 shutout in Albertville and Fairview rolling over Priceville 35-0. Good Hope has accomplished back to back shutouts with the Raiders having five of them in the past two seasons, the most by any local school.
Sweet Shutout for the Bearcats:
Matt Plunkett's first road victory as the Cullman coach was bittersweet in a 21-0 thumping of Albertville. This was the first time since the 2nd round of the 2012 playoffs when the Bearcats posted a road shutout. The last time was by the score of 30-0 in Jasper to the Walker Vikings.
Breaking a losing streak in impressive fashion:
Fairview laid to rest a 2-game slump in the Aggies' 35-0 domination of Priceville. It was their first victory in 4A, Region 7 play. Fairview had not won a regional game since 2016 in ending an 8-game losing skid in regional play. The victory got the Aggies out of the cellar in the Region 7 standings.
Right now the best:
Half way into the 2018 season, the Good Hope Raiders have the best record of all county teams at 5-0. The Raiders finished up a three-game span at James Shabel Stadium with a 50-0 crushing of Oak Grove, the first time the Raiders had prevailed over the Tigers out of Jefferson County.
In the 3-game span on the home field, the Raiders outscored the opposition 145-24. This is the best start for the Raiders under Alan Scott, in his fourth season at his alma mater.
Unbeaten season broken hard:
Cold Springs was overpowered Friday night in Aliceville 54-6, dropping the Eagles from the ranks of the undefeated. The Eagles fell to 2nd place in 2A, R 5 and are 4-1 for the season. Aliceville has sole possession of the regional lead at the half-way point.
Addison back in a groove:
A 32-20 loss by Addison to Piedmont in Week 2 has been turned around by three dominating wins, two in 2A, R 7. Addison visited Sheffield for the first time and came home a 42-7 victor.
David Smothers' Bulldogs have produced 132 points in their current win streak and given up just 37. The Bulldogs are 3-0 in games played away from A.G. Hicks Stadium this year.
Off time next week for the following:
A mid-season break comes next week for Good Hope, Fairview and West Point. Undefeated Good Hope gets back into 4A, R 5 at Northside in Tuscaloosa October 5. The Raiders are in a 1st place tie with Fayette County going into next month.
Fairview has to prepare for a 4A, R 7 visit to North Jackson October 5. The Chiefs are 4-0 and stand at the top of the regional standings with Randolph.
West Point will have an extra week to prepare for its first ever trip to Jasper. The Warriors are trying to say goodbye to three consecutive losses, all in 5A, R 7 play. Jasper has won three straight after starting the season with a 28-27 last second loss at Cullman. The Vikings are tied for the top spot in the region with Russellville.
Last Friday of September (next week):
Vinemont at Addison (WKUL-FM): Eagles take a team effort victory into Addison's homecoming against a Bulldog unit that has corrected early season mistakes, playing very solid on both sides of the ball.
Cold Springs at Appalachian: Battle of the Eagles with Cold Springs determined to rebound from drubbing by Aliceville. Appalachian is 0-5, coming off 34-13 loss in 1A, R 5 to Woodville.
Danville at Holly Pond: Homecoming in Bronco Land with Mike Bates' squad playing the Hawks for the first time since 2007. Danville is 0-5, fresh off a 41-6 loss to Randolph in 4A, R 7.
Cullman at Hueytown: Second straight game on the road for Matt Plunkett's Bearcats. Cullman and Hueytown meet for the very first time. Golden Gophers are 3-1 after a 57-0 shutout of Brookwood in 6A, R 4 action on Friday night.
Curry at Hanceville: Bulldogs try to end a 4-game losing streak. Bulldogs and Curry play for the first time since 1981. Curry is 2-2 after the Yellow Jackets lost 24-0 Friday in 4A, R 5 to Fayette County.
Pregame of Cullman-Albertville from McCord Field in Albertville.
Photo courtesy of Cullman High School
Week 4 prep scoreboard:
Good Hope 32, Tanner 0
Cold Springs 33, Sumiton Christian 14
Holly Pond 22, Hanceville 6
Cullman 48, Columbia 8
Lawrence Co 43, West Point 7
St. John Paul 28, Fairview 13
Midfield 40, Vinemont 20
Addison 39, Red Bay 12
Cold Springs 2-0 in 2A, R 5
Cullman 1-1 in 6A, R 7
Fairview 0-2 in 4A, R 7
Good Hope 1-0 in 4A, R 5
Hanceville 0-2 in 3A, R 5
Holly Pond 1-1 in 3A, R 5
Vinemont 0-1 in 3A, R 5
West Point 0-2 in 5A, R 7
Cullman and Good Hope celebrated homecoming with victory on Friday. Cullman routed Columbia 48-8 to break a 2-game losing streak. Good Hope stood out in a 32-0 whipping of Tanner. This was the first meeting between the Raiders and Rattlers, with the game being Good Hope's homecoming.
Eagles continue to soar:
A tough 2017 season has been put to memory for Cold Springs. The Eagles took care of Sumiton Christian 33-14 in running their record to 4-0 and 2-0 in 2A, Region 5. The season is an improvement for Rod Elliott, from having their worst record in the decade a year ago. Tough challenges await the Eagles, such as trip to Aliceville this week in order to stay undefeated and stay on top of the Region 5 standings.
Cullman celebrates with former coach:
A reception was held prior to kickoff Friday at Cullman High School, in honoring former coach Mark Britton. Britton stepped down last season after being diagnosed with cancer. He finished his career as the winningest coach in Cullman history, 147 victories in 17 years with 15 playoff berths.
New Bearcat coach Matt Plunkett took part in the reception before his squad went out and routed Columbia 48-8 to end a 2-game losing streak.
Rough time of it:
Losing streaks continued Friday for Fairview, Hanceville and West Point. Fairview lost to undefeated St. John Paul 28-13, Hanceville was defeated 22-6 by Holly Pond and West Point was on the bottom end of a 43-7 defeat in Moulton to Lawrence County. Fairview and West Point have lost two straight, with Hanceville currently in a 3-game slide.
The call stands:
Good Hope is the first local team to use instant replay by the AHSAA in 2018. Late in the first quarter, running back Matt Dixon scored on a 14-yard run that was challenged by Tanner. Tanner claimed Dixon went down before getting into the end zone. The referee headed to the Good Hope sideline, got under the DVSport viewer and looked at the video that was available. In two minutes, the call stood, a Raider touchdown and a 12-0 lead at the end of the quarter.
Knocking off an undefeated team:
Two weeks ago, the Addison Bulldogs were taken from the ranks of the unbeaten when Piedmont scored a 32-20 victory. Friday night, it was Addison's turn to stop a squad that was undefeated and the Bulldogs did just that. Routing Red Bay 39-12 was enjoyable for the Bulldogs, who share first place in 2A, Region 7 with Sheffield and Colbert County at 2-0. The Bulldogs broke the game open with four second half touchdowns after a 12-6 advantage at the break.
Getting a shutout:
Good Hope is the first school from the county in 2018 to shut out an opponent, blanking Tanner 32-0. The Raiders had three shutouts in 2017 and delighted a large homecoming crowd by keeping the Rattlers from getting into the end zone. In the final minute, the Raiders held on fourth and goal from the Good Hope 2, when they tackled the Tanner QB behind the line for an 18-yard loss. Tanner was zero for four in fourth down conversions as the Raiders had eight tackles behind the line for minus 53 yards.
Coming up for Week 5:
Hanceville at Vinemont - Winner gets into the victory column for the first time in 3A, Region 5. This is Vinemont's homecoming.
Cold Springs at Aliceville - Eagles go down below Tuscaloosa in trying to hold on to 1st place in 2A, Region 5 vs. the hard charging Bulldogs.
Oak Grove at Good Hope - Raiders back in 4A, Region 5 play this week, dealing with a winless Oak Grove squad who lost in Week 4 to Curry 35-6.
Holly Pond at Fultondale - Broncos have regained momentum and will try to move forward with it in a trip to Jefferson County with Region 5 co-leader Fultondale.
Cullman at Albertville - Non regional game for the Bearcats this week as they are at Albertville. The first of two straight road games to close out the September schedule.
Russellville at West Point - A huge challenge for the Warriors on homecoming. Trying to stop a 2-game losing streak vs. an undefeated Russellville team that manhandled Hayden 48-13 on Friday night.
Priceville at Fairview - The winner will step out of the cellar of 4A, Region 7. Both are 0-2 in the region. Priceville is 0-3 for the season, Fairview 1-3.
Addison at Sheffield - Addison goes up to the Northwest area, looking to knock off Sheffield with first place in 2A, Region 7 hanging in the balance.
Coach Matt Plunkett with retired coach Mark Britton during a ceremony to honor Britton before Cullman's 48-8 win over Columbia Friday night.
Photo by Cullman High School.
Week 3 scoreboard:
Cold Springs 28, Southeastern 18
Good Hope 43, Sumiton Christian 24
Vinemont 15, Westbrok Christian 13
Decatur 38, Cullman 13
DAR 52, Fairview 15
J.B. Pennington 71, Hanceville 8
Midfield 36, Holly Pond 30
Hamilton 48, West Point 42
Addison 51, Winston Co 18
Stormy weather delays games across the area:
Two separate pop-up thunderstorms Friday night caused games to be delayed.
Storms in Morgan County slowed up the beginning of Cullman at Decatur, Athens at Hartselle and St. John Paul at Priceville.
Another line invaded Blount County as the Cold Springs-Southeastern game encountered a delay and resumed in the second half at 9:45 p.m.
Showers and lightning was seen in Holly Pond with the Broncos and Midfield underdoing a short delay.
Lightning was reported from a distance South of Ray Talley Stadium in the game between the Hanceville Bulldogs and J.B. Pennington Tigers.
Eagles and Raiders jump into the lead in their respective region:
With Cold Springs and Good Hope claiming victory, the Eagles and Raiders are in first place after the first week of regional play.
Cold Springs' 28-18 win at Southeastern has the Eagles 1-0 in 2A, Region 5 and off to their best start in four years.
Good Hope took down Cordova 43-24 in a 4A, Region 5 contest. This is the Raiders' best start in the fourth season with Alan Scott being at the controls.
Raider victory celebrated by Class of 1978 reunion:
In playing their first game at James Shabel Stadium in 2018, the Good Hope Raiders celebrated the 43-24 win over Cordova with the Class of 1978. The class had their 40th reunion, with many gathering at the game, then going to a restaurant in Good Hope afterwards for continued celebrating.
The senior players from '78 for the Raiders had a great season, going 9-1, posting the most wins for a Good Hope squad at that time.
Vinemont gets another last second victory at home:
A habit is starting for the Vinemont Eagles under coach Stephen Robinson. In his second season leading the Eagles, all three wins they have experienced have been decided in the game's final minute at Mark Smothers Stadium.
On Friday night, a last second field goal propelled the Eagles by Westbrook Christian 15-13. This was the first meeting between the two schools.
Close enough not good enough:
Holly Pond and West Point had close battles with Midfield and Hamilton Friday evening, coming up short when the final horn sounded.
Holly Pond was defeated 36-30 when Midfield scored a TD late in the contest at Thomas-Michelfelder Field.
West Point was involved in a scoring fest with Hamilton, dropping the game by the final of 48-42. The West Point-Hamilton series has encountered a routine with the road squad winning the last three meetings.
Rough beginning for the Bulldogs, Bearcats, Aggies in regional play:
Hanceville, Cullman and Fairview didn't fare well in opening the regional schedule. Hanceville suffered a 71-8 beating by J.B. Pennington, allowing the Tigers the most points ever in one game between the two rivals.
Cullman went down to defeat by Decatur 38-13 in the first road game for new coach Matt Plunkett.
Fairview lost to DAR for the very first time, 52-17, surrendering the most points in one contest with the Marshall County school and scoring the least in the five meetings the two have encountered.
Analyzing the 4th week of the 2018 season:
Sumiton Christian at Cold Springs - Eagles seeking their 4th victory and to go 2-0 in 2A, Region 5 against Sumiton Christian who is 0-3 and has lost all three games by large margins.
Tanner at Good Hope - Raiders and the Rattlers hook up for the first time. This is a non-regional game for Good Hope and the second of three consecutive at James Shabel Stadium.
Columbia at Cullman - Bearcats out to break a 2-game skid when the Eagles come from Huntsville for 6A, Region 7 play at Oliver Woodard Stadium.
Fairview at St. John Paul - Aggies journey to Huntsville to take on St. John Paul, who is 3-0 for the first time in their brief history. This is a 5A, Region 7 game.
Holly Pond at Hanceville - Huge matchup for the county and a 3A, Region 5 game. Winner stays in contention in the region, with the loser dropping to 0-2 in the regional standings.
Vinemont at Midfield - Eagles get on the bus and head into the Birmingham metro area. Vinemont faces Midfield for the very first time. This is a 3A, Region 5 game.
West Point at Lawrence County - Warriors encounter their rival in the town of Moulton. Lawrence County got into the win column Friday by a 25-22 victory at Hayden. Red Devils 1-0 in 5A, Region 7. West Point is on the road for the first time in 2018.
Photo courtesy of Cold Springs High School.
Week 2 scoreboard:
West Point 27, Arab 26
Cold Springs 27, Berry 20
Fairview 32, Hanceville 22
Good Hope 47, Priceville 14
Holly Pond 36, Ider 13
Mortimer Jordan 18, Cullman 16
Falkville 32, Vinemont 28
Piedmont 32, Addison 20
Still undefeated after two weeks:
Cold Springs Eagles, Good Hope Raiders, Holly Pond Broncos, West Point Warriors.
In the win column:
Fairview's 32-22 victory over the Hanceville Bulldogs ended a 6-game losing streak for the Aggies.
The thrill of victory:
West Point's 27-26 victory over Arab, coming from a 26-7 halftime deficit, scoring the game winner on a TD run by Hunter Persall and Stephen Rodriguez's extra point with 51 seconds remaining.
The agony of defeat:
Cullman Bearcats lost 18-16 to Mortimer Jordan on a FG by the Blue Devils with less than 2:00 remaining. Vinemont suffered 32-28 loss to Falkville after leading at halftime 12-11.
First time victories for Warriors, Broncos:
West Point and Holly Pond enjoyed wins against Arab and Ider, playing them for the very first time. This was Holly Pond's fourth time of playing all time inside Deklab County and winning a game up there for the first time.
Season has improved from last year:
After two games, Cold Springs has more wins that they did all of 2017. The Eagles are 2-0 after they went 1-9 last season. In defeating Berry 27-20 Friday night, the Eagles lead the series with the Wildcats 6-5.
Through two games, the Holly Pond Broncos are allowing 13 points a contest, while the Cold Springs Eagles are giving up 20. The Broncos defeated New Hope 26-13 in the opener and Ider 36-13 Friday night.
Cold Springs has surrendered 20 points in both games to Meek and Berry. The Eagles posted 34 points against Meek and had 27 on the scoreboard Friday against Berry.
Area escapes bad weather:
Games around the area were able to be completed Friday night, without no weather problems. That could not be said down in the Birmingham area as a thunderstorm moved through, delaying games and having at least four suspended and to be completed on Saturday.
The rain did arrive at West Point Stadium shortly after the Warriors finished their 27-26 win over Arab.
Game time conditions at West Point Stadium were partly cloudy skies, temperature in the upper 80s and a heat index making it feel like the low 90s.
Locals establish winning formula in road games early in 2018 season:
So far, the Good Hope Raiders and Holly Pond Broncos have been the local teams that have played opponents outside the county. Good Hope is 2-0 with wins at Carbon Hill and Priceville, Holly Pond went to Dekalb County Friday night and came home a 36-13 winner over Ider.
A majority of games inside the county have been strong through the first two weeks with more to be on display this coming week.
Looking ahead to September 7 games:
Cullman at Decatur - Both are 1-1 with this being Matt Plunkett's 1st road game and a 6A, Region 7 as well. The Bearcats will play on the new artificial turf at legendary Ogle Stadium in the River City.
J.B. Pennington at Hanceville - Bulldogs back home, facing an 0-2 Pennington squad that fell to rival Susan Moore 28-21 in OT on Friday evening. Hanceville lost to Fairview in its first road game for new coach Cody McCain.
Cordova at Good Hope - Home opener for the Raiders, 4A Region 5 game with the Blue Devils and the 1978 Class celebrating its 40th anniversary. The senior players from 1978 were 9-1, setting a record for victories at Good Hope in one season at that time.
Cold Springs at Southeastern - Eagles head on the road for the first time, going into Blount County to meet Southeastern, This is a 2A, Region 5 game.
Hamilton at West Point - Warriors will have to play a complete game next week in order to stay undefeated. Class 5A, Region 7 opener. Hamilton came to West Point two years ago and pulled out a 14-10 victory. Third straight game for the Warriors at West Point.
DAR at Fairview - Aggies try to go 2-1 on the season with the Patriots paying a visit to Dafford Smith Stadium.
Midfield at Holly Pond - Undefeated Broncos get tested by the Patriots from the Birmingham area in the 3A, Region 5 opener.
Westbrook Christian at Vinemont - Eagles meet ball club from Gadsden for the very first time in a non-regional game at Mark Smothers Stadium.
Photo of Cullman crowd vs. Mortimer Jordan Friday at Oliver Woodard Stadium.
Photo courtesy of Cullman High School.