SHANNON FAGAN: Defense, dynamite and home field advantage should come into play this week

With each passing week in the high school football playoffs, things get a bit harder. The margin for error is slimmer and every possession is precious because these are the best of the best teams the state has to offer.

That’s where defense, dynamite and home field advantage come into play.

But before we dive into this week’s second round, here’s an update on how yours truly fared in last week’s picks. I went 4-1 to improve to 53-15 overall this season. I’m picking at a 78-percent clip for the year. Not quite the clip I picked at last season, but I’ll take it.

Now on to Round 2.


Piedmont (9-2) at Colbert County (7-4)

Colbert County senior running back Demetrius Jones will be a focal point for the Bulldog defense. In last week’s 57-28 win over J.B. Pennington, Jones accumulated 333 all-purpose yards. He ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a pass for a score and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

Piedmont also has its own stick of dynamite in senior quarterback Jack Hayes, who continues to climb school and state offensive records by the week. I like the Bulldogs’ chances to win on the road here.

The pick: Piedmont.


West Morgan (10-1) at Cherokee County (9-2)

Another dynamite performer is Cherokee County junior running back Jacob Cornejo. He had a record-setting outing in last week’s 47-10 victory over Corner, blasting off for 372 yards and six touchdowns. But he might find that kind of performance harder to come by this week against West Morgan.

The Rebel defense has posted four shutouts this season. They’ve given up just three points to West Limestone and allowed only a touchdown against Brooks and in last week’s 27-7 win over Westminster Christian.

Cherokee County’s defense isn’t too shabby either. The Warrior ‘D’ has three shutouts to their credit and has given up only a touchdown to Good Hope, so points could be at a premium here.

The Warriors are playing at home, however, where they haven’t lost this season, so I’ll give them the edge here.

The pick: Cherokee County.


Coosa Christian (7-4) at Spring Garden (10-1)

Speaking of defense, the Conquerors are coming off a 51-8 win over Hackleburg. In that game, Coosa’s defense forced seven turnovers that led to 43 points. The unit had eight sacks, four interceptions and 14 tackles for a loss.

These two teams met earlier this season back on Aug. 26, with the Panthers coming away with a 27-0 victory in Gadsden. In that game, Connor Bates exploded for 172 of the Panthers’ 352 total yards and a touchdown. He also had five tackles on defense.

I feel like both teams have gotten better as the season has progressed, but I’ll still give the Panthers the edge at home in the Foothills Tractor Game of the Week.

The pick: Spring Garden.

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