FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Road to playoffs gets bumpier

Published 2:49 pm Thursday, October 13, 2011

After a season-opening win over rival Chilton County and a couple of more easy victories, Jemison seemed to be cruising toward a showdown with Greene County on Oct. 21.

The winner of the game would likely claim home field advantage in the opening round of the state playoffs.

But then strange things started happening.

Star running back Javae Swindle suffered an injury that forced him to miss one game, and the Panthers were upset last week by West Blocton, 36-21.

All of a sudden, JHS sits fifth in the region and wouldn’t make the playoffs if it started today.

“We just had several mental breakdowns, and we didn’t play a very disciplined game,” JHS coach Merritt Bowden said. “We’ve got to play fast and physical, but that’s not all of it.”

The Panthers still have time to climb back up the mountain, and the task starts this week as Sumter-Central visits.

Sumter County and Livingston schools were combined to form a new school—and football team, which has played well.

Then will come the visit to Greene County. Jemison likely needs to win at least one of these games to remain in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Win both, and Jemison might have home field advantage in the first round after all.

“We’ve got to be ready to play and clicking on all cylinders,” Bowden said.

Who will win?

Sumter-Central is really two football teams combined. Not a good opponent for a struggling Jemison squad hoping to hold onto a playoff spot.

Pick: Sumter-Central | Picks record: 33-14

Who do you think will win the Sumter Central-Jemison football game?

  • Jemison (81%, 34 Votes)
  • Sumter Central (19%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 42

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Also Friday night

Maplesville (7-0) at Autaugaville (4-3)

After a big win over Pickens County last week, this road trip could turn into a trap game, But the Red Devils have come too far to lose their perfect mark. Pick: Maplesville

Francis Marion (3-4) at Billingsley (4-3)

Billingsley should be motivated after a blowout loss at American Christian last week. Plus, this week’s game is crucial for playoff positioning. Pick: Billingsley

Isabella (3-4) at R.C. Hatch (3-4)

These teams have had the same result against four common opponents. But here’s the stat of the day: Isabella is 3-0 in road games, and R.C. Hatch is 0-3 at home. Pick: Isabella

Verbena (2-5) at St. Jude (5-1)

Verbena will find the going tough this week at St. Jude, who could easily be unbeaten this season. The only blemish on the Pirates’ record is a two-point loss at Winterboro. Pick: St. Jude

Thorsby (2-5) at Vincent (6-1)

Thorsby’s progress this season has been obvious—both of the Rebels’ wins have come in the last three weeks—but Vincent is one of the state’s best teams in the 2A classification. Pick: Vincent

Chilton Co. (1-6) at Wilcox-Central (1-6)

Chilton County last week dropped its fourth one-possession game, compared to one win in such contests. That tends to even out over the season. Pick: Chilton Co.