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SHANNON FAGAN: Not picking at peak performance yet

Last week certainly wasn’t the best of weeks for me picking area high school football games. But to my defense, it was a rivalry week, where anything can happen.

And it just about did.

Cherokee County put an end to its 10-game skid against Piedmont with a dramatic 21-14 victory. Meanwhile, Sand Rock put together a fine second-half performance to down Cedar Bluff, 29-12.

Yours truly went 0-2 in those games, and I’ve heard about it from the Cherokee County and Sand Rock fan bases. But as Cherokee County High School football public address announcer Keith Tolbert put it, even James Spann doesn’t get it right all the time.

When I’m compared to the weather authority in these parts, well, that does make me feel a little better.

At least last weekend wasn’t a total washout. Spring Garden and Collinsville bailed me out to help even my mark at 2-2. But I cringe to think I’m just 5-3 picking to start the season, and this week isn’t going to be breeze with region play set to begin.

I need a clear forecast tomorrow night. Hey James, can you help me out there?

 

Gaylesville (0-1) at Coosa Christian (0-2)

The Trojans have had an extra week to prepare for this one, and the Conquerors have looked anything but their moniker the past two weeks. They’ve suffered blowout losses to Geraldine and Spring Garden.

This is kind of a tricky game to pick. Gaylesville showed some promising signs in the passing game with Tanner Eads, but the problem was the Trojans couldn’t establish much of a running game in their season-opening loss to West End.

Coosa Christian has been susceptible to the run, particularly last week against Spring Garden.

I look for the extra week to prepare to pay some dividends for the Trojans, but I just can’t see Coosa Christian dropping to 0-3.

The pick: Coosa Christian.

 

Woodville (0-1) at Cedar Bluff (1-1)

Speaking of bye weeks, Woodville is coming off one here following a 47-8 loss at Whitesburg Christian. Not much went the Panthers’ way, and I don’t think it will here either for two reasons: 1) Cedar Bluff is coming off a loss and 2) the Tigers have never lost to Woodville. They’re 14-0 in the series.

I look for Bucky Leek and company to bounce back in a big way.

The pick: Cedar Bluff.

 

Section (0-2) at Collinsville (1-0)

Don’t let Section’s record fool you. The Lions’ two losses this season have both been close. They opened with a 24-22 setback against Decatur Heritage, then fell in overtime last week at Valley Head 26-20.

Jr. Walker is the Lion bell cow, so if the Panther defense can slow him down, I like their chances.

On the flip side, Section’s ‘D’ has to deliver against the Panthers’ all-purpose threat Keaton DeBoard.

Since Collinsville is playing at home, I’ll give the Panthers a slight edge.

The pick: Collinsville.

 

No. 7 Pisgah (1-0) at Sand Rock (1-1)

It looks like the Wildcats are beginning to put things together. They trailed Cedar Bluff at halftime by two scores, but some second-half adjustments led to 29 unanswered points and a ‘W’.

This week, they’ll have to deal with an Eagle offensive attack led by quarterback Mason Holcomb. He threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns in a 29-28 nail-biting win at Lexington.

Sand Rock won a shootout against the Eagles last season on the road, 48-42. The Eagles return 15 starters from last year’s Region 7 championship team (8 on offense, including Holcomb).

I’d love to pick the Wildcats here, especially since they appear to have turned a corner, are playing their first game at home, and honoring the 1997 state runner-up team tomorrow night. But I think Pisgah might just have a little too much firepower for them to stop.

The pick: Pisgah.

 

Sylvania (1-0) at No. 1 Piedmont (0-1)

The Bulldogs certainly didn’t look their best last week in their 21-14 loss at Cherokee County. Jack Hayes had a tough night throwing the football, with only five completions for 18 yards.

I look for Hayes and the Piedmont receivers to have their routes and timing down much better this week against a solid Sylvania team that’s coming off a 19-6 victory over Saks.

The pick: Piedmont.

 

Good Hope (2-0) at No. 10 Cherokee County (2-0)

The Warriors are on Cloud 9 following their win over Piedmont last week, but the thing they have to guard against this week is not to overlook Good Hope.

The Raiders finished second to Class 4A state runner-up Oneonta in Region 6 last season. They marched to third round of the state playoffs, losing a tough battle against Madison Academy, 35-28.

I talked to several of the Warriors following their dramatic win over Piedmont, and they all seemed to have their minds right. While they were excited to earn the win over their biggest rival, each of them mentioned they were focused on moving on to Good Hope, and I believe they are.

The pick: Cherokee County.

 

Wadley (0-2) at Spring Garden (2-0)

It’s been the Spring Garden of old the past couple for the past couple of weeks. The Panthers have gotten solid blocking up front, creating holes for Connor Bates, Chapel Pope and company to run through.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have been a bit self-destructive. They’ve been plagued by turnovers in their two losses this season, both on the road, against Horseshoe Bend (14-6) and Ranburne (14-0).

I like the Panthers here in the Foothills Tractor Game of the Week.

The pick: Spring Garden.

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