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Now the fun really begins

Excuse me for getting nostalgic, but it’s beginning to feel like old times again at Maplesville.

OK, so “old” might be a little much. I’m not talking about the 1980s, when the Red Devils won 85 games and made the semifinal round of the state playoffs three times. I’m not even talking about the 1990s, when coach Jim Hubbert led Maplesville to new heights as the program claimed its first state championship in 1996.

No, my history with the school goes back to only 2007, my first season covering high school football for The Clanton Advertiser. The Red Devils that year—just as they had done the previous year—lost to eventual state champ Sweet Water in the semifinal round of the playoffs.

But covering the team was fun because it was so good, and everyone knew there was a chance that maybe, just maybe, the season could end with a win in Birmingham.

After somewhat of a rebuilding year in 2008, coach Brent Hubbert has his Red Devils right back among the state’s elite. They easily defeated Talladega County Central on Nov. 6, and now No. 5 Loachapoka waits this week. I followed the ‘07 team to Linden and Sweet Water and was treated to some exciting football.

In fact, the folks at Maplesville consider it something of a tradition to be playing football the Friday after Thanksgiving—when most schools have been focused solely on basketball for weeks. If that happens again, we’ll know it has been another special season.

We’ll find out just what kind of team the 2009 Devils are after this trip down to Lee County to face the team that knocked Maplesville out of the playoffs last season.

If Maplesville can pull out a tough road win, then they probably will return home to host No. 2 Linden, the only squad that has handed Maplesville a defeat this season.

The first meeting was at Linden, and playing at home could be the difference for Maplesville.

A big playoff game this week and, we hope, an even bigger playoff game next week—that’s the Maplesville I know.