By Jonathan Deal
GAME OF THE WEEK
East Limestone (2-3, 1-2) at Athens (1-4, 1-2)
7 p.m., Golden Eagle Stadium
Why it’s important: Throw out the records in this one, this is Limestone County’s biggest rivalry. Both teams haven’t started the way they would have liked, but still can make a push for that final playoff spot in Class 5A Region 8.
Preview: East Limestone carries the momentum of winning its last two football games after starting the year 0-3. It’s been a collaborative effort from the Indians’ running game, which had 17 players carry the ball in a 41-14 win over James Clemens last week. Led by Torren Haley, East Limestone will run early and often against a stout Athens run defense. If there is anything positive from Athens last three games, it’s been the competition they faced. The Golden Eagles saw Class 5A top five teams Hartselle and Muscle Shoals in back-to-back weeks before last week’s 34-0 loss to 6A No. 5 Austin. East Limestone has played a pair of top 10 teams in Madison County (4A No. 8) and Cullman (5A No. 10). East has won the past two meetings by a field goal.
Series record: 3-3
Last year: East Limestone won 17-14
News Courier prediction: East Limestone 14, Athens 10
West Limestone (2-3, 1-2) at Wilson (3-2, 2-1)
7 p.m., Warrior Stadium
Preview: West Limestone bounced back from a pair of lopsided losses to Central and Brooks to win back-to-back games over East Lawrence and Elkmont the past two weeks. The Wildcats are still battling injuries to several key players, but running backs Tucker McCormick and Dillon Miller have picked up the slack combining for more than 200 yards the past two weeks. Wilson enters the game with plenty of momentum with three straight victories. The loser of this game could be eliminated from playoff contention while the winner will take a big step toward securing that No. 4 spot in the region.
Series record: Wilson leads 6-5
Last year: West Limestone won 44-20
News Courier prediction: Wilson 34, West Limestone 28
Ardmore (4-1, 2-1) at J.O. Johnson (4-1, 2-1)
7 p.m., Milton Frank Stadium
Preview: Ardmore travels to Huntsville Friday for a pivotal playoff game in Class 4A Region 8. Ardmore has its running game in full gear entering this game, rushing for at least 340 yards three times this season. In the four wins this season, the Tigers are averaging 312 yards per game, led by senior Tyler McCarley, who is averaging 111 yards per outing. Although Johnson likes to spread the ball around more, the Jaguars can score points, averaging 30 points per game this season.
Series record: These teams have never met
News Courier prediction: J.O. Johnson 26, Ardmore 16
Madison Academy (3-2, 2-0) at Elkmont (1-4, 1-2)
7 p.m., Boss Hill Stadium
Preview: Although its record won’t show it, Madison Academy might be the best team in Class 3A. The Mustangs only losses have come against the top team in 2A (Tanner) and a top 10 5A team (Cullman). Running back Kerryon Johnson is a threat to score every time he touches the ball for Madison Academy. Elkmont will have to focus on Johnson while hoping the Mustangs’ other weapons don’t kill them. These teams met in the second round of the playoff last season.
Series record: Madison Academy leads 14-9
Last year: Madison County won 42-0 in the 2nd round of the playoffs
News Courier prediction: Madison Academy 35, Elkmont 14
Colbert Heights (1-4, 1-2) at Tanner (5-0, 3-0)
7 p.m., Rip Swanner Field
Preview: The top team in Class 2A welcomes Colbert Heights for homecoming in Tanner Friday. The Rattlers have proved tough to score on this season, allowing just over four points per game through five games this season. At R.A. Hubbard last week, Tanner limited the Chiefs to negative 19 yards passing and less than 100 on the ground. On offense, the starters have seen little action past halftime, racing out to big leads early in the game. This one should be no different, as Colbert Heights has struggled on defense, giving up almost five touchdowns per game.
Series record: Tanner leads 4-2
Last year: did not play
News Courier prediction: Tanner 55, Colbert Heights 7
Clements (0-5, 0-3) at Westminster (3-2, 1-2)
7 p.m., Huntsville
Preview: Clements is still looking for its first win of the season and is on the road against Westminster in a Class 3A Region 8 game. The Colts played Ardmore close last week, leading the Tigers most of the game. Westminster beat Randolph 42-14 in a non-region game and will have plenty of confidence against the winless Colts. Clements won the last meeting between the teams, 42-10 in 2009.
Series record: Clements leads 2-0
Last year: Did not play
News Courier prediction: Westminster 41, Clements 14