E.A. Sports Today

Big week ahead

Big week in prep and rec sports this week in and around Calhoun County. Here’s a quick look at what to know:

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today


The state high school football playoffs hit the quarterfinals round Friday and one segment of the Class 3A bracket is all Region 5, the strongest region in the state.

With Piedmont hosting Weaver and Ohatchee hosting Randolph County, it marks only the fifth time since 2006 all four teams from the same region made it to the quarterfinals. The others: 2006 Class 5A Region 8, 2007 Class 6A Region 6, 2-12 Class 1A Region 5 and 2012 Class 3A Region 8.

Top-ranked and defending state champion Piedmont (12-0) puts a school-record 22-game winning streak on the line against Weaver (9-3) at the Field of Champions. The game is a rematch of Piedmont’s 49-15 win on Sept. 30.

Weaver is in the third round for only the second time in school history and the first time since 2005 (when it lost to Cherokee County at home 43-20). The Bearcats have outscored their playoff opponents 79-7 and have held three of their last four opponents since giving up 61 to Randolph County to seven points or less.

Piedmont is riding a seven-game playoff winning streak, has won its last five home playoff games and won 17 in a row overall at home. The Bulldogs lead the series 22-12 and is 9-0 since Steve Smith has become their coach in 2006.

Ohatchee (11-1) hosts Randolph County (10-2) in its first-ever third-round home game. The game is a rematch of Ohatchee’s 34-6 win at Randolph County on Sept. 2. The Indians last played in Round 3 in 2002, when they lost at Lineville 52-0; they last got to the state semifinals in their championship season of 1977. They’ve already set the school record for points in a season and have scored 40 or more in each of their last four games.

Randolph County has made a seamless transition to 3A. The Tigers are riding a nine-game winning streak and have outscored their playoff opponents 66-30. Their only two losses have come to the teams they could be facing the next two weeks – Ohatchee and Piedmont.

(Thanks to Michael Naugher of the Alabama High School Football Historical Society for the research on the region history)

Here is a quick look at the quarterfinals playoff games involving teams from Calhoun County

Field of Champions, Piedmont

Records: Weaver 9-3 (No. 4 Class 3A Region 5), Piedmont 12-0 (No. 1 Region 5).
How they got here: Weaver def. Fultondale 37-7, Lexington 42-0; Piedmont def. Holly Pond 55-26, Colbert County 38-21.
Scoring: Weaver 396-239; Piedmont 495-211.
Playoff appearances (W-L): Weaver 16 (9-15), Piedmont 21 (36-18).
Previous meetings: Piedmont leads series 21-12, won earlier meeting this year 49-15.
Common opponents: Wellborn (Weaver 27-6 W, Piedmont 47-16); Ohatchee (Weaver 41-21 L, Piedmont 45-35 W); Glencoe (Weaver 34-15 W, Piedmont 33-0 W); Randolph County (Weaver 61-41 L, Piedmont 42-14 W); Pleasant Valley (Weaver 44-0 W, Piedmont 48-18 W).
If you’re going: Hwy. 431 North, turn right onto Saks Road, turn right on Clairmont Drive. School is on the left.
If you’re going: AL 21 North through Jacksonville, bear left onto AL 200, stadium on the right.

Roy C. Owens Stadium, Ohatchee

Records: Randolph County 10-2 (No. 3 Class 3A Region 5); Ohatchee 11-1 (No. 2 Region 5).
How they got here: Randolph County def. J.B. Pennington 28-6, Sylvania 38-24; Ohatchee def. Locust Fork 49-28, Lauderdale County 49-21.
Scoring: Randolph County 366-224, Ohatchee 532-210
Playoff appearances (W-L): Randolph County 21 (31-19), Ohatchee 24 (19-22).
Previous meetings: Series tied 5-5, Ohatchee won regular-season meeting 34-6.
Common opponents: Piedmont (RC 42-12 L, Ohatchee 45-35 L); Glencoe (RC 20-7 W, Ohatchee 40-7 W); Pleasant Valley (RC 41-13 W, Ohatchee 47-7 W); Weaver (RC 61-41 W, Ohatchee 41-21 W); Wellborn (RC 28-27 W, Ohatchee 21-0 W).
If you’re going: US 431 north, turn left at AL 144, turn right onto Main St. (6.5 miles), at stop sign go straight or turn right.


The high school basketball season tips in earnest for county basketball teams this week. Right off the bat are two big ones Monday – Sacred Heart against Mae Jemison at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center and Oxford at Gadsden City.

The Sacred Heart game pits two reigning state champions (Jemison, the new school for 5A champs J.O. Johnson). The Cardinals are loaded with talent and Jemison is led by Mr. Basketball and Alabama commitment John Petty. It also gives 6-7 Sacred Heart newcomer Dakota Myers a chance to play in front of the home folks; he transferred from Grissom.

“I think it’s really good for high school basketball in Alabama,” Cardinals coach Ralph Graves said. “Playing a team like that is a good thing because it gets everybody excited for the season.

“Most of the time a lot of people get excited at the end of January, February, state championship time. But to see two defending state champions go at it with high caliber players, (Jemison’s) Jack Doss is a big coach, just happy to be playing it and playing in a high-caliber showcase like this.”

The Cardinals originally were slated to play Lee-Huntsville in the doubleheader, but the change works out better for Graves.

“You’d rather play Jemison,” he said. “Whoever it is in the state where they say ‘they’re the best in the state’ that’s who we want to play. We don’t want to play the second-best, we don’t want to play none of them, we want to play whoever’s the best team in the state because we’re one of the best teams.”

On Tuesday, Torry Brown makes his debut as Anniston’s new coach in a home game with Sylacauga. It will be the first time in 20 years the Bulldogs will be taking direction from a coach not named Schuessler Ware.

Brown, “an Anniston guy (Class of ’97) coming home,” got the job this summer after five seasons and two area titles at Shelby County. He actually played for the coach he’s succeeding, playing the point on Ware’s Anniston JV teams as a ninth- and tenth-grader.

Truth be told, with the limited time he has to get a predominantly new team ready for the season, outside of expecting Tuesday will be “pretty emotional” for all involved, he hasn’t had time to think about this whole replacing-a-legend thing.

“Under different circumstance you might have time to, but having two weeks (to get ready) and until that day hits you’re more focused on making sure we get on the floor for loose balls and things like that,” Brown said. “It’s one of those things you can anticipate it pretty much all you want but you don’t have time to really think about the moment. Two weeks is not a whole lot of time.”

And with the team he inherits the clock seems to be moving at warp speed. The Bulldogs have two players who have put on a varsity uniform – Marrio Dobbins and Tarik Packer-Wood – and the rest is “pretty green.” The team they play in Brown’s Anniston debut returns virtually everyone from the one that won 20 games and the Talladega County Tournament last year.

“We really can’t do a whole lot scheme wise because two weeks you just can’t get it in,” Brown said. “The thing we’re trying to do is identify an identity, then as we move forward we can put things together.”

Here is the basketball schedule for the week:

Nov. 14
Oxford at Gadsden City
Sacred Heart vs. Mae Jemison, at VonBraun Center, Huntsville, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 15
Lincoln at Ohatchee
Oxford at Faith Christian (girls)
Pleasant Valley at Ashville
Sylacauga at Anniston
Talladega at Gadsden City

Nov. 17
Gadsden City at Sacred Heart
Jacksonville Christian at ASD
Winterboro at Anniston

Nov. 18
Anniston at BTW Magnet
Coosa at Ohatchee
Donoho at Ragland
Sacred Heart vs. Westminster in Verizon Hoops 4 Cure, Atlanta, 7:45 p.m.
Susan Moore at Pleasant Valley
Wellborn in TCC Thanksgiving Tournament (girls)
White Plains at Faith Christian

Nov. 19
Sacred Heart vs. Milton in Verizon Hoops 4 Cure, Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Wellborn in TCC Thanksgiving Tournament (girls)

Champions Sports Academy Girls Thanksgiving Classic
First round games

Westbrook Christian vs. Ohatchee, 3 p.m.
White Plains vs. Cleburne County, 4:30 p.m.
Alexandria vs. Weaver, 6 p.m.
Pleasant Valley vs. Faith Christian, 7:30 p.m.


The growing Calhoun County High School Swimming Championship is set for Monday, 5:30 p.m. at the Anniston YMCA pool and it’s expected to be the most competitive ever.

Oxford, Saks, Weaver, Donoho, White Plains and Wellborn will all be represented. Oxford has long dominated the event with its abundance of swimmers, but the increase in participating schools and a format change to eliminate relays is expected to tighten the scoring.

Seven swimmers at the meet are headed for next weekend’s state sectionals in Birmingham — three from Weaver, two from White Plains and one each from Oxford and Donoho — and more spots could be claimed Monday.


The East Alabama Gators were expecting this to be the strongest year they’ve ever had in their program and it looks like it’s coming to fruition.

The four Gators teams are a combined 39-2 and are hosting all four championship games of the Central Youth Football League Saturday at Anniston’s Lott-Mosley Stadium Saturday.

Here’s the schedule:

6-and-under: (1) East Alabama Gators vs. (3) East Side Eagles, 10 a.m.
8-and-under: (1) East Alabama Gators vs. (3) Fultondale, 11:30 a.m.
10-and-under: (2) East Alabama Gators vs. (1) Fultondale, 1 p.m.
12-and-under: (1) East Alabama Gators vs. (3) East Side Eagles, 2:30 p.m.

The 10U and 12U games are rematches of the Gators’ only losses this season. The 10U team lost to Fultondale 8-0 and the 12U team lost to the East Side Eagles 22-20.


Nearly 50 youth teams from three states will converge on soccer fields at Choccolocco Park this weekend for the inaugural Choccolocco Invitational.

Competitive and recreational teams ranging in age from U6 to U19 from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee will be hitting the pitch. The action gets underway at 8 a.m. Saturday and runs through championship finals on Sunday.

The fields already have had foot traffic. The weekend it officially opened the Oxford-based Fusion FC was part of an 18-game festival with teams coming from as far as Gadsden.

Based on early experiences, the venue will be a popular spot in the future. Fusion FC hopes to stage two tournaments there a year – the Invitational in the fall for the recreation and developmental set and a Cheaha Cup in April with an even more competitive field.

“It’s incredible,” Fusion U12 girls assistant coach Benji Turley said of the facility. “It’s nicer than the fairways on some of the nicest (golf) courses I’ve been on; the ball rolls like a putt. It’s going to be a destination for teams. Once we get these two tournaments off the ground, people are going to want to come and play on this grass.”

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