The action gets underway Wednesday at 7 p.m. when Hoover takes on Prattville for the first-ever 7A title game. We take a look at that game and other six matchups in our Super 7 Primer.
7A Title Game--Hoover (11-12) vs. Prattville (11-2), Wednesday, 7 p.m.
This will be the sixth time these schools have met in the state championship game with Prattville holding a 3-2 advantage over the Bucs, but Hoover has been the dominant program in the state since the Lions took them down to end the 2011 season. Winning the last two titles in 6A before moving up this year, Hoover is gunning for a third-straight crown and features the most talented roster from top to bottom in the state.
While the offense has hit its stride since struggling early in the season, scoring at least 35 points in each of the last 10 games, it’s on defense where the Bucs make their mark. Led by Williams, Alabama commitment Christian Bell, 2016 linebacker Jeremiah Moon and a host of others, Hoover is allowing just 13.6 points per game on the season. Since allowing 59 points the first two weeks in losses to Miami-Central (Fla.) and Colquitt Co. (Ga.), Hoover has given up more than 20 points just three times and has held six opponents to a touchdown or less.
Not many people thought the Lions would be playing in the final game this season after a 37-7 loss at Auburn High near the end of the regular season followed by a narrow win over Lee-Montgomery, but Prattville put it all together in the playoffs and enters Wednesday night’s a game a hot and confident team. With decisive wins over Central-Phenix City and Foley the last two weeks, the Lions will be a formidable foe for powerful Hoover.
Much of the reason for that is on the offensive side of the ball with talented athlete Keith Washington leading the way at quarterback. A one-time Duke commitment, Washington could play defensive back or wide receiver on the next level. Physical junior running back Kingston Davis is one of the go-to guys on the ground with massive Kenny Thomas anchoring the offensive line for a Prattville offense averaging 36.6 points per game this season.
3A Title Game: Madison Academy (13-1) vs. Dale County (14-0), Thursday, 11 a.m.
This could be the game of the week with Johnson and the Mustangs facing off against one of the top offensive weapons in the state in Dale County running back JaMarius Henderson. A complete player who excels on both sides of the ball, Johnson will play running back, wide receiver, defensive back and return kicks for Madison Academy. Big 2016 running back Malik Miller and 2017 offensive tackle Austin Troxell are guys to keep an eye on as well for an offense averaging 46.6 points per game.
A physical runner with the speed to take it the distance, Henderson broke the state single-season rushing record last week with a 44-carry, 383-yard performance against Gordo to push his total to 3,267 yards. He’s a big part of an offense for the Warriors that comes in scoring 44.9 points this season.
Up front big Jeffrey Whatley is a force for Dale County and could be a tough test for the Madison Academy offensive line. Cornerback Carl Rogers will likely get the task of stopping Johnson when he’s lined up outside.
1A Title Game: Hubbertville (13-0) vs. Maplesville (13-0), Thursday, 3 p.m.
A power running team, Hubbertville is averaging 40.8 points per game and does it mostly on the ground behind Dax Benton’s 30 touchdowns this season. Quarterback Vess Benton has 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions, not bad for a team that usually attempts only a handful of passes each game.
Perhaps the most dominant team in the state this year, Maplesville enters Thursday’s game scoring 49.3 points and allowing just 8.3 per contest. A 14-0 shutout win over Linden early in the season is the closest game all year for the Red Devils. Quarterback Cole Spencer and speedy running back Terence Dunlap lead the way for a Maplesville offense that has scored more than 50 points seven times in 2014.
5A Title Game: St. Paul’s (14-0) vs. Pleasant Grove (12-2), Thursday, 7 p.m.
A team loaded with speed and size, the Saints are on a roll, averaging 38.2 points per game and allowing just 10. Offensively, it’s all about the tandem of running backs Ostin McPherson and B.J. Edmonds along with two-way threat Jalen Thompson at wide receiver. Already the leading rusher in school history, McPherson is just a junior and has more than 2,000 yards this season.
Up front Louisville commitment Troy Thingstad is a powerful blocker. Defensively, junior tackle Darius Whitfield is a difference-maker on the line with Thompson one of the best cover cornerbacks in the South this year.
Pleasant Grove is led by a pair of brothers who make plays on both sides of the ball. Dejaun Feagan handles the quarterback duties and is capable of making plays with his feet or his arm. He has nearly 3,000 total yards this season with 26 touchdowns. KeJuan Feagan has more than 700 receiving yards, 500 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Throw in bruising 220-pound back Brandon Simmons and the Spartans will be a load to handle for the St. Paul’s defense.
4A Title Game: Deshler (13-1) vs. Leeds (13-1), Friday, 11 a.m.
No team has had to deal with more than Deshler this season. Before the year began longtime Coach John Mothershed resigned and assistant Jake Linville took over. Guiding the team to the region title and a 7-1 start, he was accidentally killed getting a gun out of his truck, putting even a heavier burden on the Tigers. Through it all they have remained steadfast in their goal of winning a state title and they’ll have that shot this week.
Quarterback Sam Howard leads the way for the Deshler offense with tight end B.J. Bailey a major target. In last week’s semi-final win over Cordova the duo hooked up for three touchdowns covering 68, 36 and 37 yards. For the season Deshler averages 36.6 points per game.
One of the most talented teams in the state, Leeds is led by athletic quarterback Tadarryl Marshall. Capable of making plays down the field in the passing game, Marshall is fast enough to get to the edge of the defense and take it the distance. In last week’s win over UMS-Wright he carried the ball six times for 127 yards and was one of three Green Wave runners to go over the 100-yard mark.
Tre Nation was the second and he forms with Marshall to give Leeds a dynamic junior combo in the backfield. Throw in Tyler Wright and it’s as potent an offensive attack as you will see this week. Averaging 37.6 points per contest, Leeds has scored more than 40 in a game seven times this season.
2A Title Game: Fyffe (14-0) vs. Elba 14-0), Friday, 3 p.m.
Another contender for game of the week, this one features two dominant teams from each end of the state. Averaging 51.6 points per game, Fyffe has only been held under 40 points twice this year. Running back Austin Stiefel is the engine that makes the Red Devils go with some help from Dilan Kilpatrick. In the playoffs Fyffe has handled traditional powers Reeltown and Tanner with relative ease before taking out Ranburne to reach the finals.
Quarterback Ramsey Rigby makes guides an Elba offense averaging 42.4 points per game this season. His favorite target and a player Fyffe will have to pay close attention to is wide receiver Blake Edwards. He’ll get the ball on handoffs, as a receiver, and even throw it on occasion.
6A Title Game: Clay-Chalkville (14-0) vs. Saraland (13-1)
A team that won a game 85-50 in the playoffs this year, Clay-Chalkville gives up its share of points, but averages 49.6 per contest behind the play of speedy quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome.
With a strong arm and running ability that has him over 1,000 yards this season, Pigrome has made up for the loss Terrelle West in a big way this season. With 57 total touchdowns in 14 games, Pigrome is the guy that makes the offense go for the Cougars.
On the outside junior T.J. Simmons is a threat catching the football and is a big play waiting to happen. He is frequently the target for Pigrome and will be someone to watch closely as a top 2016 talent for next season. Up front Mississippi State commitment Kendell Jones is a powerful player that could make life difficult for Saraland on the line of scrimmage.
For Saraland it starts with quarterback Chris Weaver. Leading an offense averaging 36.2 points per game, Weaver can run and throw effectively and is physical enough to take a licking and keep on ticking. His favorite target is athletic receiver Velus Jones. In last week’s win over Spanish Fort Jones had 10 catches for 144 yards and will be a player Clay-Chalkville must keep an eye on.
On defense the Spartans are giving up just 13.1 points per game and have held seven opponents to 10 points or fewer this season.
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