Thursday, Aug. 30
Athens at Decatur
7 p.m., Ogle Stadium
Preview: Both these teams lost preseason games last week to big-time, Class 6A programs. Athens is coming off a 28-7 loss to Bob Jones, while Decatur was shutout 33-0 at home by No. 2 Clay-Chalkville. Athens has not scored more than a touchdown in the past three meetings between these teams. The Golden Eagles are 2-8 against their Class 6A rival under head coach Allen Creasy.
What to look for: Defense. Athens has struggled to score on the Red Raiders in the past and the Golden Eagles will lean on a defense that returns six starters.
Players to watch: Athens running back Derek Teague; Decatur running back Josh Mathews
Last year’s result: Decatur won 23-3
Series history: Decatur leads 57-25 with two ties
News Courier prediction: Decatur 16, Athens 13
Madison Academy at Tanner
7 p.m., Rip Swanner Stadium
Preview: Tanner, ranked No. 3 in Class 2A, hosts Class 3A’s No. 4 team, Madison Academy. Both teams reached the state championship game for the first time in school history last season. Tanner cruised in its preseason game at Clements, while Madison Academy tuned up with an easy win at home against Columbia. These teams have not played since 1983.
What to look for: Points. Both these teams set school record for points scored last season.
Players to watch: Tanner linebacker/running back Fred Rich; Madison Academy wide receiver/defensive back Kerryon Johnson
Last year’s result: Did not play
Series history: Tanner leads 4-0
News Courier prediction: Tanner 35, Madison Academy 27
Friday, Aug. 31
West Limestone at Clements
7 p.m., M.T. Newman Stadium
Preview: West Limestone and Clements meet for their annual rivalry game to open the season. Clements lost to an overmatched Tanner squad, while West Limestone’ varsity led West Morgan 7-6 at halftime before losing 14-7. West made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history last season. Clements has won one game each of the last two seasons.
What to look for: The Wing-T. West Limestone will unveil its new offensive for the first time at Clements.
Players to watch: West Limestone linebacker Preston Moss; Clements defensive back Jimmy Marsh
Last year’s result: West Limestone won 28-22
Series history: West Limestone leads 25-24
News Courier prediction: West Limestone 21, Clements 13
Elkmont at Ardmore
7 p.m., Cooper Field
Preview: Elkmont coach Sean Holt and Ardmore coach Shannon Brown both admitted their teams needed work after jamboree losses last week. The game could come down to which team has improved the most and makes the least amount of mistakes.
What to look for: Turnovers. Elkmont turned the ball over six times against East Lawrence, while Ardmore fumbled three times against Westminster last week.
Players to watch: Ardmore running back Tyler McCarley; Elkmont linebacker Jared Bailey
Last year’s result: Elkmont won 41-7
Series history: Ardmore leads 39-23
News Courier prediction: Elkmont 27, Ardmore 18
Madison County at East Limestone
7 p.m., East Limestone Stadium
Preview: East Limestone and Madison County will face each other in what has become a healthy rivalry series over the last few years. Madison County has veteran-laden team
filled with key players who have starter for multiple seasons while East Limestone returns a trio of talented running backs from last season.
What to look for: Hard hits. East Limestone head coach Jeff Pugh described this game as a “war” the last few years. After not playing a jamboree, the Indians will be eager to hit someone else.
Players to watch: East Limestone running back/safety Tristian Mathews; Madison County fullback Jordan Chunn;
Last year’s result: East Limestone won 17-7
Series history: East Limestone leads 11-8
News Courier prediction: East Limestone 20, Madison County 17
- Jonathan Deal
Athens News Courier sports writer Jonathan Deal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.