Aug. 31—The road to the postseason begins Friday night.
Region openers await many of our local squads, and that means tremendous playoff opportunities abound.
Much like a late '90s WWE PPV, this Week 2 slate is loaded with quality and intriguing matchups top to bottom, including the oft-anticipated clash between Cullman and Hartselle.
But that's enough preamble. It's time to talk football.
Before we begin, however, please remember to cast your vote in "The People's Pick," a series of Twitter polls posted on my timeline (@winfreyjake) each and every Monday afternoon.
Class 1A, Region 8
Addison (1-1) at Cherokee (0-2): No analysis needed here.
The Bulldogs crushed Vina 69-0 last week, while the Indians fell to Waterloo 60-14 following a Week 0 loss against Brindlee Mountain.
Addison leads the all-time series 5-0.
That advantage will climb to 6-0 around 9 p.m. on Friday night.
My Pick: Addison
People's Pick: Addison (90 percent)
Class 2A, Region 5
Sulligent (1-1) at Cold Springs (2-0): The Eagles are 2-0 for the second time in three years.
Cold Springs, however, is about to face its toughest challenge to date.
The Blue Devils, who took down Oakman in Week 0 before falling to Fayette County last Friday night, can rack up points in bunches and lead the all-time series 7-2, including a 53-14 victory in 2021.
But the Eagles are flying high, and this is likely to be a much closer contest this time around.
One of many tough calls on the schedule.
My Pick: Sulligent
People's Pick: Cold Springs (63 percent)
Class 6A, Region 7
Hartselle (2-0) at Cullman (2-0): Lakers vs. Celtics. Red Sox vs. Yankees. Batman vs. The Joker.
Like those, the Cullman-Hartselle rivalry remains alive and well entering Friday night, with each squad looking to get a leg up in the region standings while also earning some bragging rights.
The Bearcats exploded for 42 points in last week's win over Jasper, while Hartselle has walloped both of its opponents — Austin and Jackson-Olin — by a combined score of 84-23.
The series has, unsurprisingly, been extremely close over the years — the Tigers boast a slim 49-47-4 advantage — and I have a hunch this year's iteration will be yet another classic.
I don't, however, have a clue who's going to win.
My Pick: Hartselle
People's Pick: Hartselle (51 percent)
Class 5A, Region 8
East Limestone (1-1) at Fairview (1-1): The Aggies dropped a tough one last week to Priceville and will have to turn the page quickly to get past the Indians on Friday night.
East Limestone, which slipped by Central Florence 35-32 in Week 1, leads the all-time series 5-1, but the two programs haven't met since the year YouTube was founded (2005).
The score then was 12-6 in favor of the Indians.
Not only do I expect more points 17 years later, I also expect a different outcome.
My Pick: Fairview
People's Pick: Fairview (86 percent)
Class 4A, Region 6
Good Hope (2-0) at Cherokee County (2-0): A fourth-quarter surge last week has the Raiders riding a wave of momentum heading into region play.
Unfortunately for Good Hope, it doesn't have an easy task this Friday night.
The Warriors shut out Model, Ga. in Week 0 before taking out Class 3A No. 1 Piedmont last week by a score of 21-14.
This will mark the first meeting between these programs, and the Raiders will need to bring their best from the outset if they want to reach 3-0.
One of the best matchups in north Alabama this week.
My Pick: Cherokee County
People's Pick: Cherokee County (59 percent)
Class 4A, Region 6
Oneonta (2-0) at Hanceville (1-1): The Bulldogs turned in an extraordinary performance last week en route to their first victory of the season.
With the Redskins on deck this Friday night, Hanceville will need an encore showing if it wants to start region play off on the right foot.
A perennial postseason contender, Oneonta boasts a 25-14-1 advantage in the all-time series and has opened the 2022 campaign — a year after playing for the Class 4A state title — with victories versus Cleveland and Dora.
Tough matchup for the Bulldogs.
My Pick: Oneonta
People's Pick: Oneonta (77 percent)
Class 2A, Region 6
Locust Fork (1-1) at Holly Pond (0-2): Despite an 0-2 start, the Broncos have been right there in both of their games this season.
Holly Pond would love nothing more than to make a few more plays this Friday night and start out the region slate with a big win over Locust Fork, which fell to J.B. Pennington last week.
The Hornets lead the all-time series 14-8, including a 48-18 victory in 2019.
I'm not sure about this one at all.
My Pick: Locust Fork
People's Pick: Locust Fork (79 percent)
West Point (0-2) at Vinemont (1-1): Last but not least is a fun county vs. county matchup.
The two squads haven't met on the gridiron since 1999 (!) — a 39-14 victory for West Point — but I'm positive this is going to be one of the best games to watch this week.
I'm not positive, though, in terms of what is going to happen.
It sounds cliché and simple enough, but whichever team runs the ball better will take this one.
Based on what I've seen this season, I have to side with the Eagles.
My Pick: Vinemont
People's Pick: Vinemont (55 percent)
My Record: 9-5
People's Pick: 9-5