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SHANNON FAGAN: Piedmont, Cherokee County face tough tasks in state football quarterfinals

There have been several subtle signs reminding me it’s getting close to Thanksgiving.

Everywhere you go, traffic is getting heavier. Stores are becoming more crowded. Black Friday sales are starting to pop up. The WEIS End Zone Show is having its final show of the season Thursday night. And there are just two area football teams who remain in the state high school football playoffs.

It should come as no surprise it’s two of the more traditional football stalwarts in Northeast Alabama: Piedmont and Cherokee County. It seems like yesterday they battled each other in one of the year’s best games, won by the Warriors 21-14. They’ve both had tremendous seasons, something I know both fan bases are thankful for.

Speaking of thankful, I’m glad to have had another solid season picking area high school football games. I’m 55-16 for the year, which averages out to around a 78-percent success rate.

Will Piedmont and Cherokee County continue on their respective paths to Auburn? Read on to find out.

Gordo (11-1) at Piedmont (10-2)

These are the top two teams who remain standing in Class 3A following Geraldine’s upset of top-ranked Mars Hill last week.

We all know why Piedmont has its lofty ranking, but what about Gordo? Well, the Green Wave’s lone loss this season was back on Aug. 26 against Class 4A Bibb County (56-21). It opened the playoffs with a 50-6 blowout of Ohatchee and posted a 44-14 win against Lauderdale County last week. In that game, sophomore CJ Lark ran for a pair of scores from 70 and 83 yards and caught a 28-yard touchdown pass.

Gordo is 5-0 on the road this season, but I think the Field of Champions’ atmosphere Friday night might just play a big factor in helping the Bulldogs keep the Green Wave from coming ashore.

The pick: Piedmont.

Cherokee County (10-2) at Randolph (10-2)

Both defenses will have to be on their toes in this first-ever battle.

The Warriors are powered by the running game of Jacob Cornejo and Jack Amos, while the Raiders attack a lot through the air with quarterback Andrew Hunter, who has thrown for 3,764 yards with 45 touchdowns this season.

This is Randolph’s first ever trip to the quarterfinals. One of the Raiders’ two losses this season was their season opener to West Morgan, which Cherokee County defeated handily last week, 42-28.

I like the Warriors to come away with the road win in the Foothills Tractor Game of the Week.

The pick: Cherokee County.

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