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SHANNON FAGAN: Rivalry games highlight this week’s high school football slate

There’s nothing like a good rivalry, and there’s a few of those to go around this weekend in area high school football action.

Three of the four matchups involving our teams this weekend date back almost a century. And talk about close, two of the three rivalries have a razor-thin separation in their respective series.

According to the Alabama High School Historical Society website, the Piedmont Bulldogs hold a 38-37-3 edge in the series with the Cherokee County Warriors, which dates all the way back to 1925. Cedar Bluff holds a 34-32 edge over Sand Rock since 1946.

Speaking of razor-thin, three points is all that separated me from perfection in last week’s Week 0 picks. I went 3-1, with my only blemish being Cedar Bluff’s 22-20 victory over Winterboro.

But enough about last week. Let’s see what the old crystal ball has in store for rivalry weekend.

Spring Garden (1-0) at Coosa Christian (0-1)

Power football appears to be back in the Garden. The Panthers churned out over 400 yards on the ground last week against Sand Rock, led by sophomore Connor Bates’ 210 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries.

I look for another big night from the Garden ground game at Coosa Christian.

The pick: Spring Garden.

Sand Rock (0-1) at Cedar Bluff (1-0)

Stopping Bucky Leek is a must for the Wildcat defense. The only problem is they had trouble stopping the run last week at Spring Garden.

While I don’t think Sand Rock is going to give up quite as many yards as it did last week, I still think Leek makes just enough plays for the Tigers to come out on top.

The pick: Cedar Bluff.

Piedmont (0-0) at Cherokee County (1-0)

Cherokee County’s defense has come up big the past couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, the Warriors forced five turnovers in a 28-14 scrimmage win over Trion, Ga. Last week, junior defensive back Alex Johnson got the Warriors going with his fumble return for a score early that set the tone in a 20-0 win at Model.

But the Warrior defense will face perhaps the best offense they’ll see all season in the defending 3A state champion Bulldogs, led by senior quarterback Jack Hayes.

Hayes threw for 2,673 yards and 38 touchdowns and was only intercepted twice last season. The reigning 3A Back of the Year also ran for 1,027 yards and 21 scores.

Last week against Fyffe in jamboree action, Hayes threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ishmael Bethel and later added a 2-yard touchdown run in the Bulldogs’ 21-20 win.

Like I said above with Cedar Bluff’s Leek, I think Hayes is the x-factor in a Bulldog victory here.

The pick: Piedmont.

Crossville (0-1) at Collinsville (0-0)

Crossville head coach Riley Edwards goes up against his former team in this Saturday battle. The Lions struggled offensively last week in their loss at Ider. Meanwhile, the Panthers had four different players score touchdowns in a jamboree win at Pleasant Valley.

Collinsville has had recent success in this rivalry that dates all the way back to 1926. The Panthers have won the last four meetings, including last year’s 21-20 nail biter.

I’m going with the Panthers in this one.

The pick: Collinsville.

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