Six prep storylines: Jacksonville set for big region opener while Piedmont looks to bounce back

·4 min read

Aug. 31—Jacksonville gets one of Class 4A's biggest regular-season games at home.

Piedmont looks to rebound.

Pleasant Valley looks for a rare start.

Alexandria faces a key region test.

Anniston seeks to stay on course for a key region showdown.

Lincoln and Spring Garden are off to impressive starts just outside the Calhoun County line.

Those are the storylines headed into the third week of regular-season games in area high school football. Let's get right to them:

1. Eagles' nest

The next test on Jacksonville's early-season gauntlet is Class 4A, Region 4 power Handley, and the fourth-ranked Golden Eagles will get the No. 2 Tigers at home.

Jacksonville has played its share of big games in recent years, probably none bigger than this one. It's to determine which region power has a leg up going forward, with both teams yet to play Anniston.

Jacksonville plays at Anniston next week. Handley goes to Anniston on Sept. 30.

Jacksonville hopes to have longtime offensive coordinator Jamison Edwards back on the job this week. He stayed out with a fever when the Golden Eagles played at Alexandria last week, and new offensive line coach Jim Ogle called plays with son Jim Ogle at quarterback.

The elder Ogle was a longtime assistant on Jacksonville State's staff before coming on to the Golden Eagles' staff this season. His son is a junior and all-state quarterback.

2. Rebounding Piedmont

The Bulldogs lost to Cherokee County for the first time since 2009 last week and play host to Sylvania in a key Class 3A, Region 6 game this week.

Sylvania beat Saks 19-6 last week, but history is not on the Rams' side. Piedmont last lost two games in a row in 2018. They've only done it twice in Steve Smith's 17 years as head coach, the other time coming in 2014.

Before Smith, Piedmont last started 0-2 in 2004.

3. Raider history

History hasn't been so kind to Pleasant Valley, but history isn't forever, right?

The Raiders opened with a victory over Donoho, avenging a loss from 2021. They play at West End-Walnut Grove to start 2A, Region 6 play.

West End (2-0) has opened with victories over Gaylesville and Susan Moore but hasn't had a winning season since 2015.

A victory keeps Pleasant Valley on schedule for its stated goal of making the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but winning would also mean the Raiders' first 2-0 start since 2016 and only the fifth 2-0 start in the program's history.

4. Valley rally

Fresh off of its loss to Jacksonville, Alexandria hopes to rebound in a big way in a key Class 5A, Region 6 game at Moody on Friday.

The game within a game will pit three Division I commits ... Alexandria running back/safety Antonio Ross (Liberty), Moody wide receiver Davion Dozier (Arkansas) and Moody junior defensive back A'mon Lane (Auburn).

This ballgame for Alexandria is about how much a Valley Cubs team that lost most of its starters improves from the first game to the second one.

5. Bullish Bulldogs

Speaking of Anniston's key Region 6 game at Jacksonville next week, the last thing the Bulldogs want is a stumble in the region opener at Munford this week.

Talent on the field includes Anniston SEC commits Kamron Sandlin (South Carolina) and Ryqueze McElderry (Alabama), and Anniston junior Jayden Lewis has several Power 5 offers.

Munford has Tennessee commit Sylvester Smith.

Sandlin, Anniston's senior quarterback, hopes to finish 3-0 against his former team.

6. Impressive starts

Lincoln, one of Alexandria's region rivals, is off to a strong start. The Golden Bears beat Talladega 54-0 and Ashville 35-10. Lincoln opens region play this week, against Southside, which dropped down from Class 6A to 5A this season.

Spring Garden is back in Class 1A after two deep playoff runs in 2A, and the Panthers have outscored Sand Rock and Coosa Christian 67-8. This week, Spring Garden opens Region 6 play against reigning 1A state runner-up Wadley, which opened with losses to 2A opponents Horseshoe Bend and Ranburne.

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.