Sep. 7—It's road warrior week for Calhoun County high school football teams.
In a fluke that owes partly to realignment, eight of 12 county-based schools that play AHSAA football will play out of the county this week. Only four ... Anniston, Jacksonville, Piedmont and Pleasant Valley ... play in the county. Jacksonville and Anniston play in the same game.
For context, five county teams played in the county on the night of the 2019 semifinals.
Oxford, Wellborn, Donoho, White Plains, Saks, Ohatchee, Alexandria and Weaver all play outside the county this week.
Want an ironic tidbit? Anniston and Pleasant Valley will have their homecomings.
Jacksonville goes to Anniston looking to avenge a 2021 loss ... sort of. Jacksonville wound up the winner after Anniston had to forfeit over an ineligible player. Golden Eagle quarterback Jim Ogle didn't play in last year's game, which Anniston won 22-9 on the scoreboard.
Anniston goes into it looking to avenge the forfeit. Speaking during Calhoun County Quarterback Club Media Day in July, Bulldogs coach Rico White referred to "teams on our list," and it wasn't hard to deduce that Jacksonville was one of them.
The Bulldogs made their key Class 4A, Region 4 showdown with Jacksonville homecoming.
2. Piedmonsters again
That boom coming from the north end of the county last week was Piedmont exploding for a 40-7 rout of Sylvania one week after losing to Cherokee County for the first time since 2009.
Quarterback Jack Hayes passed for 371 yards and five touchdowns, and just as notable was the emergence of his receivers. Thomas Propst, Ishmael Bethel, Parker Thornton and Rollie Pinto all caught touchdown passes. Bethel caught two.
Looks like Hayes found new targets after Austin Estes, Omarion Foster and Coleman Reid graduated.
Piedmont hopes for more of the same this week, when Plainview comes to town for a 3A, Region 6 game.
3. Raider homecoming
Pleasant Valley looks to rebound from last week's 2A, Region 6 loss to West End-Walnut Grove with a homecoming victory over region opponent Holly Pond.
With eyes toward making the playoffs this season, Pleasant Valley (1-1) hopes to get its first region victory against the Broncos (0-3).
4. Road warriors: Alexandria
Of the county teams playing outside the county this week, Alexandria stays closest to home, at Lincoln.
It's a key Class 5A, Region 6 game. Both teams lost their region openers last week, Alexandria at Moody and Lincoln at Southside. Lincoln faces Moody next week, and Alexandria's shot at Southside comes Oct. 14.
With Moody and Southside already holding the upper hand, Friday's game at Lincoln is big for both teams' hopes for a home playoff opener in November.
5. Road warriors: Oxford
Coming off of a 45-13 rout of Shades Valley, Oxford (2-1) looks to make it 2-0 in 6A, Region 6 play at Huffman (0-3).
Oxford's rout of Shades Valley came on the heels of losing wide receiver Sam Robertson for five to six weeks with a fractured collarbone. He scored four touchdowns a week earlier, at Huntsville.
The Yellow Jackets want to avoid a slip-up going into next week's home region showdown with Pinson Valley.
6. More road warriors
Reclassification and realignment broke up the old 3A region that included six schools from Calhoun County, sending Pleasant Valley to 2A and splitting the rest north and south.
Piedmont and Ohatchee stayed north. Saks, Weaver and Wellborn went south.
It all meant there would be a week like this, with Ohatchee going to Sylvania, Saks going to Dadeville, Weaver going to Childersburg and Wellborn going to Beulah.
All are region games, as is White Plains' 4A, Region 4 game at Handley. The Wildcats come off an open date and will try to slow down Handley running back Jamarius Haynes, who ran for 476 yards at Jacksonville last week.
Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.