SHANNON FAGAN: Toughest week yet to pick

Just about every game on this week’s area high school football schedule has some sort of postseason implication. We’ve got region championships up for grabs for some and final playoff berths on the line for others.
It’s the way it should be at this time of year.
It’s also going to be the toughest week yet for yours truly to pick this season because so many of these games could go either way.
I went a little bit of the wrong direction last week. I feel like I need to rebound a bit from a 4-2 mark. That put my overall record at 40-11 on the season, so here’s hoping a big week is in store for our area teams and yours truly.

Whitesburg Christian (4-4) at Sand Rock (3-6)
In my weekly perusing of stats and trends, I realized the Wildcats haven’t won a home game this season. This is their last shot. They ended a four-game skid last week, so I look for another streak to come to an end in their final game of the season.
The pick: Sand Rock.

Piedmont (6-2) at Hokes Bluff (4-4)
Piedmont secured the Class 3A, Region 6 title last week with a win over Geraldine, but don’t think for a second the Bulldogs will rest up for the remainder of the regular season. There’s a matter of rivalry pride here in this one.
In a series that dates all the way back to 1941, Piedmont has a 33-29-1 edge, including the last four meetings. Jack Hayes and company will make it five in a row following Friday night.
The pick: Piedmont.

Collinsville (6-2) at North Sand Mountain (4-4)
These two teams have secured their tickets to the postseason. This one will decide the 3-4 spots from Class 2A, Region 7.
Both of these teams have won four of their last five games, but surprisingly, the Bison have had only one home win this season. That was against Whitesburg Christian, a team the Panthers had to have a last-second field goal from Luis Ailon to secure the victory last week.
Collinsville has won the last three meetings with the Bison, so I’ll go with the Panthers here in another close one.
The pick: Collinsville.

Valley Head (8-0) at Gaylesville (2-5)
With last week’s victory over Decatur Heritage, the Trojans still find themselves in the hunt for a playoff berth. A win over the Tigers would go a long way in earning that final spot from Class 1A, Region 7, but I’m afraid Eian Bain and company will be too much for the Trojans to handle.
The pick: Valley Head.

Cedar Bluff (3-5) at Appalachian (4-4)
The Tigers also find themselves in the thick of the race for the final playoff spot from Class 1A, Region 7. A win here could secure their ticket.
They’re coming off a much-needed bye week after losing four in a row. You have to go back to 1995 to find a Tiger team that has lost that many consecutive games. That year, Cedar Bluff lost their last six contests. Here’s thinking the playoff motivation will be enough for the Tigers to scratch out a hard-fought win.
The pick: Cedar Bluff.

Spring Garden (8-1) at Ragland (6-3)
This one is a fairly simple playoff scenario to figure out. A Panther win secures the Class 1A, Region 6 football title. A loss drops them to the three seed with Ragland winning the region.
The Purple Devils have a pair of sophomore quarterbacks in Drake Kay and Antwan Byers. Kay has thrown for 920 yards and eight touchdowns. Byers has 838 yards and nine scores through the air. Spring Garden coach Jason Howard said they swap every series, so the Panther defense will have to be on its toes. Howard also said Ragland will be the best team Spring Garden has faced this season.
Here’s thinking Howard has the Panthers up for the challenge.
The pick: Spring Garden.

Ashville (2-6) at Cherokee County (7-1)
Following last week’s thrilling 45-42 victory over Etowah, Cherokee County coach Jacob Kelley thanked me for picking against the Warriors last week. I told him I was glad to help out.
The Warriors probably wish I would keep picking against them for some easy motivation, but all kidding aside, I can’t in good conscious do it in this week’s Foothills Tractor Game of the Week.
Cherokee County is clearly the better team here. The Warriors are 8-0 in their history against Ashville, and they’re focused on earning a region championship and sending their seniors out on a winning note in their final regular-season home game.
The pick: Cherokee County.

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