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FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Focusing on the playoff picture

Published 3:45pm Thursday, October 10, 2013

With each high school football team in the state having played more than half of its region schedule, the playoff picture is coming into focus.

All local teams will play important region games this week and the next two weeks.

Both Thorsby and Verbena need to win all of their remaining region games to have a chance at a playoff berth.

Verbena hosts Talladega County Central on Friday for its homecoming. Thorsby, meanwhile, will visit Midfield.

“We knew that this stretch was going to be tough for us,” Thorsby coach Billy Jackson said about the Rebels having just played the three top teams in their region in four weeks.

The Rebels’ record would look much different had they been able to come up with wins in three games they lost by a single score.

“You can’t turn the ball over and win,” Jackson said. “We’ve done that in those three ballgames. It’s been tough for [the players].

“All in all, we’ve been playing hard. They just haven’t been able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. They’ll be better men for it someday.”

A Chilton County High School win over Briarwood on Friday would force a three-way tie for second place in their region.

If the teams were to end the season in that position, CCHS could have an advantage in the tiebreakers based on the Week 5 win over Marbury, a fellow Class 5A team from a different region.

The Tigers must first focus on playing well this week, coach Donnie Hand said.

“Our defense played pretty well last week,” Hand said about a 13-3 loss to Sylacauga. “We gave up a couple of big plays, but the defense played well enough to give us a chance to win.

“We had good field position off one punt and three interceptions, but we couldn’t do anything with it.”

Chilton went 0-for-12 on third-down conversions.

Jemison hosts Corner, and the Panthers need to win to stay within striking distance of the first two spots in the region. Those are important because the top two seeds from each region host their first-round playoff game.

Isabella lost to Lanett last week in a battle for first place in their region, and now the Mustangs find themselves in a three-way tie for second place with Montgomery Academy and Reeltown, two teams left on Isabella’s schedule.

First, the Mustangs visit LaFayette this week.

Billingsley hosts Ellwood Christian on Thursday. If the Bears win, they should be in good shape to finish in the top four of their region, thus earning a playoff berth.

Maplesville sits tied with Autaugaville at the top of the same region, and the two teams meet this week at George Walker Jr. Stadium in Maplesville.

MHS coach Brent Hubbert said the Red Devils defense is likely to see more passes than it has in any other game so far this season.

“We’re working to get our coverages in and make sure we’re all on the same page,” Hubbert said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get some pressure [on the quarterback in passing situations].”

Maplesville is hoping to claim its fourth consecutive region championship.

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