Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bully's mid terms!!

Now that the season is half over, it is time to pass out some Bully midterm grades based on what I have seen, read or heard now that we have completed the half-way point of the season. I expect some of these teams may move on the bully scale by end of the year but the below listed grades are based on performance to date.

Excellent - A's

Bob Jones - Is there any doubt that BJ would be in this category. People have always wondered why a school this large would not put a winning product on the field year after year. They may now have the right coaches/system in place for that to happen. Marque wins over a tough Decatur team and on the road at Florence have been impressive to date.

Madison Academy - Everyone knew they had talent at skill position going in but there were some unknowns especially at the QB position. Impressive wins over Elkmont and Lauderdale County have propelled this team to a 5-0 record. Tough 2nd half of the season coming up with some physical football teams, including this week’s game against Colbert Heights, but impressive so far.

Hartselle - Was supposed to be a rebuilding year but apparently not so. Tough game this week with Athens but they have already slayed one dragon in Russellville. I should get my first look at Hartselle this week and if they can weather this areal storm from Rivers, watch out!

Cullman - Currently ranked number 1 in 5a Region 6. Huge game this week against Erwin in the region will decide how legit they really are. This is a revenge game from one of 2 regular season loses from last year. Coach Britton has this team playing extremely well over the last several years. This year could be the year. This region is competitive so if you go unbeaten thru week 5, your good!

Good - B's

Arab - After years of 2 to 4 win seasons, this Arab team maybe ready to start a new tradition. Currently sitting at 3-2 with 2 close loses to Oneonta and Fort Payne. Tough upcoming region game with Boaz will go a long way in determine how successful this year will be.

Guntersville - Was on my "must see" list until last week's loss to Arab. That was out of region and I still think this team will be a factor in winning their region. My bucket list has a visit to Guntersville to see a game so hopefully before the year is over, I can see first hand.

Boaz - Probably should be on the A list but with a season opening loss to Guntersville, I'll keep them here. Coach Noles has this program getting better in the last few years and this year's team, may be special. Fort Payne this week and Arab in a few weeks will determine how special.

Athens - 2007-08 were tough years for a town that loves its High School football. With the addition of Rivers at QB, this team has that one player that can change a game. Can't figure out what happened for the season opener against Clay Chalkville but the rumor is that a change in who is calling the plays has occurred after that loss. Whatever it is, it is working! Tough game this week against Hartselle and later on at Russellville.

Colbert Heights - Big physical football team. Seem to always struggle with team that have speed. This year's team is playing well except for the loss to Colbert County. A win this week and help from someone like MA to beat Colbert County will get them the region.

Decatur - Coach Adcock always has a tough team and they play hard. Last week's loss to BJ was tough but Decatur had their chances to win. Even though they may not have a lot of play makers on offense, they do have a good defense and a tough little QB. Still have to go to Florence and end the year out of the region against Hartselle but with their defense, will be in any game.

Lexington - Would be an "A" listed team if not for last week's hard to imagine loss to Lauderdale County. Not downing LCHS but how do you beat Tanner then lose to a team that might not make the playoffs. Schedule is favorable the rest of the way and will not be surprised to see them end the year at 9-1.

West Limestone - No coach in our area has a better coaching pedigree than WL's Coach Arnsparger. After a couple of tough years, this may be the year that folks are smiling again in Salem. No surprise that they loss to Tanner and Elkmont (well maybe surprised at how bad Elkmont beat them) but the early season win over Colbert County is a "hat hanger".

Tanner – A “B” list candidate by virtue of their loss at Lexington. That being the case, this is probably the most over looked program in North Alabama. Tanner has not had but 1 season with less than double digit wins since 2004. Now at 4-1, I expect they will finish the regular season at 9-1.

Average - C's

Elkmont - Probably could be listed in the "B" category sitting 3-2 after all the players they graduated from last years team. Loss last Friday to Clements keeps them on the "C" list. Tough 2nd half of the schedule still to play but Don Jacobs has brought new life to the little community in Northeast Limestone County.

Colbert County - No one plays a tougher out of region schedule than CC. So, no one is shocked with the 2 losses to Muscle Shoals and Deshler. The loss to West Limestone, however, is what makes this team "C" worthy. Rumor has it they have gone back to what they know on offense so the 2nd half of the season may be a different CC team. Will not be surprised if they win the next 4 and win the region. Game 10 is with Russellville though!

Grissom - This school hasn't had a winning season since 2002. I don't expect them to have one this year but 5-5 is realistic. I give Grissom a "C" based on the victory over Huntsville. They should win this week over Hazel Green to even their record to 3-3.

Buckhorn - Sitting at 3-2 give this team a "C". But, the hardest part of their schedule is still ahead. Wouldn't surprise me, based on the way they have played for Buckhorn not to win another game this year. Things haven't been the same in New Market since that magical season back in 2005.

East Limestone – Coming off a disappointing 2008 season of 4 wins, the Indians may be headed back in the right direction. With two losses that were not unexpected, this team could finish 6-4.

Westminister – A young football program that is a diamond in the rough when you look at their new facilities and their potential. Now at 2-3 with a brutal last 5 ball games may not yield another win this year. But, they have all the pieces in place to build a great program including their Head Coach.

DAR – Just like Westminister above, this is a young football program sitting at 2-3 for the year. DAR has come a long way in 4a since their first season in 2006. In fact, they had a winning season last year. Don’t think they will get above .500 for the year but you have to respect what they have done in a short amount of time. If they ever get this football thing figured out consistently on the mountain, watch out. Those Grant folks love their Patriots!

Below average (D's and F's)

Lauderdale County - Showed signs of live but is giving up way too many points. Sitting 2-3 with some tough teams left, leads me to believe that this team may win 1 or 2 more at the most.

Russellville - Each year this team just re-loads. But, losing 2 straight ain't sitting well for the golden tiger fans. They should win at least 4 of the last 5 with Athens being the only toss up right now. This team went to the finals last year but if they don't figure out why they're not scoring the last few weeks, may not go to deep this year.

Huntsville - Coming off 9 and 10 win seasons the last few years has folks scratching their heads on this year’s team. After winning the first week, they have lost the last 4. Too good an offensive line and defense makes you wonder what has happened. Based on performance to date, may only win 2 more games.

Sparkman – Coming off of back-to-back 3 win seasons and now sitting half way with only 1 win makes you wonder how a school this large, can’t find football players. Looking down the road, they may only get 1 more win for the year.

Ardmore – Sitting 0-5 under first year coach Shannon Brown. 2005 was the last winning season so it’s not like they have a recent winning tradition. That being the case, you figure that they could find a way to win at least a few games. Sparkman and Ardmore, could be the curse of Hwy 53.

Madison County – Following 10 and 11 win seasons the last few years, the Tigers have returned to earth. Sitting at 2-3, this team is not the same MC team of the last few year. New Coach so things could change but you got to figure folks in eastern Madison County are missing Coach Poole.

New Hope – 2006 was the last year for a winning season. This year doesn’t look good. Thru mid season, they only have 1 win and that was over Brindley Mountain. Possibly 2 more wins in the last 5 will probably be as good as it gets down on the Paint Rock.

Headed to Athens/Hartselle game this week, should be a good'un! The day I truly understand any of this stuff, I will be an expert! Bully out!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My My, what a difference a year makes!

It is interesting how a team can have a great year one year and then the next year have a bad year. Usually you can chalk it up to graduation, injuries, coaching turmoil, etc. What is hard to understand is how a team can go from being one of the most talented in the state one year, to perhaps not even winning a game the next year. West Morgan appears to be such a team this year and it is hard to figure! This is a school that has put some talented teams on the field over the last several years and, last year, had one of the most talented in the state. The current head coach has never had a losing season at West Morgan. Since his first season in 2002 he has had 3 seasons of 10+ wins, including last year. I know WM graduated some studs from last year, but everyone? To date they have scored 37 total points while giving up 109 in compiling a 0-4 record. The first loss to East Limestone is understandable but the other 3, playing in an average at best region, is not. What in the world is going on in Trinity?

Had a chance to see an undefeated Holtville put their record on the line last Friday and get beat by Alabama Christian. First look at the "Spin" offense. Holtville has some decent players but can't win when you turn the ball over 5 times. Interesting place, Deatsville Alabama, and fun trip even though we had to battle the rain and thunder storms that delayed the start. Good concessions stand though!!

What about Hartselle. I wrote last week that the game of the week was Hartselle vs. Russellville. Now, if the tigers can take care of Athens, then the region will be theirs, but remember, Athens can pose problems for any team. If Athens beats Hartselle and loses to Russellville then there could be a 3-way time. Then the 3 out of regions opponents come into play. This could be trouble for Russellville since you count the number of wins of your defeated opponents, in class or above. Russellville has played down in classification for their 2 out of region opponents in 4a Deshler and 3a Colbert County. No matter how good these teams do, they can't count their wins in a tie breaker. So, don't lose sight of this week's, out of region games, as they could play a role on who gets 1st in the region.

Now, on to this week! Several interesting games: St. Paul at Russellville, Athens traveling to Brooks and Decatur at Bob Jones seem to be the 3 most intriguing match ups. I think I am headed to Decatur/ BJ game since it is the battle of 2 undefeated and is a region game. As impressed as I have been with BJ, Decatur could be a stumbling block if BJ is not ready. Since this region has 8 teams, this game is a region game for BJ and Decatur. Both teams are undefeated and showing stout defenses but BJ's offensive production has been more impressive to date. Could this be an upset?  I say it will be an upset if Decatur wins but I'm not ready to believe that will happen.

Catch a game this week and send me your thoughts!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Could be a tough week for some teams that are undefeated!

I watched a very entertaining ball game last night between Huntsville and Florence.  24-21 Florence kicked a field goal to win with less than 10 sec. left in the game.  Both defenses struggled at times but I was impressed with Florence's QB.  Big, strong and could run and throw.  Both teams have good running backs but different styles.  Huntsville's strength is their offensive line.  Best game I have seen this year to date.

Interesting match ups tonight but none more interesting than Russellville traveling to Hartselle for the 5A Region 8 battle of teams with 3-0 records.  This Region is intriquing as there are 3 teams, Russellville, Hartselle, and Athens that seem to be clicking.  Hartselle has some youth at certain skill positions so that may pose a problem Friday night.  I most likely will travel to Russellville for Week 9 to see the game against Athens.  If not for any other reason, I want to see a game at Russellville to see what our state tax dollars has bought.  From what I hear, they have a real nice facility.  Thank you state of Alabama!

Grissom suffered their first loss last week but how long has it been since they were 2-1 and folks were excited. I mean as good as Bob Jones has been this year, you got to figure they will not take Grissom lightly.  This is a complete turn around, at least in the "respect from your opponent category", over the past few years.  Rumor has it that Grissom is bringing students and fans by the bus load and a capacity crowd is expected at the Madison stadium.  That is a good thing!  I remember back in the 70's when you had to get to games early at at Milton Frank to find a seat.  No matter what city team was playing.  That is how high school football should be.

Congrats to Westminster getting their first win last week over Cherokee.  Westminster takes on Hatton this week and this looks like a winnable game.  When you talk 2A, what about Lexington??  Obviously a marquee win over Tanner last week.  Can they go far?  Time will tell and I am going to put them on my list as a team that I want to watch play.  Probably playing the best football in Lauderdale County right now.

Madison Academy has started strong but now the schedule will get tougher.  Lauderdale County looks to be one of teams that could earn one of the playoff spots from this region.  This will be MA's first road game so that could be a factor as well.  Playing on the road is not as much of an issue as it is in College but there are some differences, such as the change with a game day itinerary.  Some coaches like road games as they can get control of their players earlier on Friday.  Colbert County got thier first win last week over West Morgan.  It will be interesting to see if they start to turn it around.  Rumor has it they have gone back to what they use to do well, smash mouth!  Right now, looks like week 6, Colbert Heights at MA may be for Region title but a lot could change between now and then. 

HS Football fans should circle week 7 when one of  the most interesting match up of the season may take place.  Guntersville travels to North Jackson in what most likely will be, for the region.  Hadn't been to the N. Jackson stadium in years but that this may be a "must see".  No doubt that Guntersville will be well coach.  But, do they have the talent to stay with North Jackson.  We also know that NJ has a habit of losing a game they shouldn't and getting elliminated in the playoff's much earlier than anticipated.  This is usually a close game.

Some things never change.  Volleyball in N. Alabama is the best in the state.  It is amazing to see Huntsville, Bob Jones, and Grissom just re-load year after year.  Looks like one of these teams have a chance to win it all again in 6a although you have to figure it will be a Huntsville/Bob Jones final unless the tourney pairings prevent this.  Hazel Green and Madison County both are playing well this year and could make Pelham.  Madison Academy, usually "the team" in 3a from N. Alabama may have some competition this year from within their own Area.  Catholic of Huntsville is the current leader and could win Area 15.  If so, how long has it been since MA was not the Area winner and what about the thought of last year's runner up in the state final not even getting past area tourney? Not predicting that, but stranger things have happened.

Get out and go see a High School volleyball match or football game.  You will enjoy it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What we know after week 2 of High School Football

I am constantly asked how good is Bob Jones. I have seen them play twice and in my opionion, as good as they want to be. They have speed, a great running back, and a very salty defense. Watching Bob Jones play North Gwinnett and then seeing Prattville play the same Georgia team, tells me that Bob Jones can play with anyone. Time will tell and this week's game against Florence, on the road, will go along way in confirming how good they are. Not saying they can win state championship, but if they ever think they can, get that certain swagger, watch out!

Rivers the QB at Athens has the potential to be very good. At least he looked good against Muscle Shoals. He does a good job of seeing the field and picked Muscle Shoals apart last week.  Muscle Shoals has a pretty good defense. Makes me wonder how Clay Chalkville shut them out in week 1.

No one can accuse the new head man at Westminister, Coach Hooks, of shying away from anyone. His first game, against St. Bernard is canceled (late in the week) so he calls R.A. Hubbard (Courland). Hubbard can only be stronger since they combined with Hazelwood.  Wow! Westminister did get blowed out but can't fault them from playing tough competition.

Has the complexion of any region changed more in 3 years than 3A Region 8. A couple of years ago this region was considered the toughest region in the state.  Now, you could argue thru week 2, as being one of the weakest. Depending on how good Colbert Heights is, will go a long way in deciding. When was the last time Colbert County was 0-2 and, went to West Limestone and lost. Not dogging WL but what is going on with Colbert County?

Surprise team to date, hands down the Grissom Tigers.  Beating Huntsville last week was the upset of the week.
Will not catch any game this week (week 3) as headed out of town. Unless I sneak a trip to see an East Tennessee high school game. Week 4, headed to mid-Alabama to check on 4a action Holtville (2-0) versus ACA (1-1). Until later!!!!!!!