Football preview: Devils not concerned about No. 1 ranking

Published 7:09 pm Thursday, October 28, 2010

“It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.”

The old cliché, while not always entirely true, describes local high school football heading into the final week of the regular season.

Maplesville this week ascended to the top of the Class 1A poll, but coach Brent Hubbert said his team hasn’t been playing for a ranking.

“I don’t think I’ve heard a kid say a word about it,” Hubbert said. “With 10 seniors, they know that after (Friday night) those rankings don’t mean anything.”

Still, Hubbert acknowledges the spot atop the poll is good exposure for Maplesville football and is something players can boast about later in their lives.

The last time Maplesville was ranked No. 1 was in 2001, but the ranking hasn’t been a goal for the team.

A perfect regular season, though, was a goal, one that will require a win at Sipsey Valley (0-9) on Friday.

Maplesville has already clinched a region championship and home field for the first round of the playoffs—and two other local teams, Jemison and Thorsby, are ensured a playoff berth—but Isabella is still hoping to make the postseason.

The Mustangs (5-4, 3-4 Class 2A, Region 4) are in a three-way tie with Billingsley and Francis Marion for the fourth and final playoff berth in the region, but under no scenario could Billingsley earn the fourth spot.

IHS needs Marion to lose to Class 5A Wilcox-Central in order to make the playoffs.

Who will win?

Maplesville is too close to its goal of an unbeaten regular season to slip up now. Isabella should handle Shades Mountain, though the Mustangs might be more interested in the outcome of the Francis Marion-Wilcox Central matchup because of the playoff implications. And Verbena will end its season with a win in front of the home crowd.

Pick: Isabella, Maplesville, Verbena | Picks record: 41-9

Also Friday night

Shelby Co. (2-7 overall, 2-5 region) at Chilton Co. (4-5, 3-4)

It’s been a roller coaster of a season for Chilton County, from a last-second win over rival Jemison in the opener to then losing five of its next six games. But the Tigers have won two straight, averaging more than 39 points during wins over Wilcox-Central and Tuscaloosa-Central. If CCHS can score at that kind of clip on Friday, the defense will do its part. Pick: Chilton Co.

Marbury (5-4, 3-4) at Jemison (6-3, 5-2)

A letdown could be expected for Jemison after last week’s 57-56 double-overtime win over Greene County, but the last time the Panthers won such a dramatic game—41-38 at Calera on Sept. 24—they came right back and handled Southside-Selma, 42-6. If JHS does win, it will go into the playoffs with as much momentum as it has had in any of coach Brad Abbott’s seven seasons. Pick: Jemison

Horseshoe Bend (4-5, 3-4) at Thorsby (8-1, 6-1)

Thorsby already has home field advantage locked up for the first round of the state playoffs. Horsehoe Bend needs a win Friday just to ensure a spot in the postseason. With this much difference in what the teams are playing for, it might seem Horseshoe Bend has an advantage. But Thorsby should prove it’s simply the better team. Pick: Thorsby