Week 7 of the high school football season is upon us, and most of The Herald’s coverage area teams are positioning themselves for the playoffs. From here on out, every week is a must-win.
Speaking of must-wins, I felt I had to get several of those after having my worst record of the season (9-3) two weeks ago. I came through, for the most part, but still have a game pending as of this writing. Troy played Florida Atlantic on Tuesday night (What’s up with that anyway?), but as it stands I’m 8-1 for my predictions last week. Overall, I’m 60-7 for the year.
But enough banter. Let’s see if Week 7 will be a lucky one.
Gaylesville at Collinsville: I had the pleasure of watching both teams play last week. Even though both of them lost, I came away being impressed with Collinsville’s toughness. The Panthers had Cedar Bluff on the ropes for the majority of their battle last week, but ultimately fell 27-21 in the final few seconds.
Meanwhile, the Trojans were getting run over by Spring Garden. Gaylesville had trouble slowing down Spring Garden’s stable of running backs in a 34-6 loss. Things don’t get any easier in that department, as the Trojans will attempt to do the same with Collinsville’s combo of Jonathon Cole and Robert Gray.
Collinsville coach Alan Beckett told me his team is tired of proving it can compete. They’re looking for a significant win. I think the Panthers will get it this week at home … Collinsville 28, Gaylesville 23.
Pleasant Valley at Piedmont: Steve Smith’s Bulldogs are putting up a lot of points, but playing as impressively is the defense. It’s only giving up a little over eight points in its last three games.
This week, Piedmont gets an improved Pleasant Valley team before its showdown at Leeds in two weeks.
Think the Bulldogs will overlook the Raiders? Nah. Piedmont rolls again … Piedmont 31, Pleasant Valley 14.
Cherokee County at Jacksonville: The Warriors are in the driver’s seat of Class 4A, Region 6. They’re still unbeaten, and they look better and better as the weeks go by.
On the slate for the Tribe this week is a Jacksonville team that’s struggled the past few seasons. I think the Warriors will add to those struggles in a laugher … Cherokee County 42, Jacksonville 7.
Sand Rock at Section: Much like the Warriors in Class 4A, the same can be said about the Rock. It’s solid.
However, things were a little closer than I expected in last week’s game against Ider. The Wildcats only won by a 21-7 margin, and quarterback Justin Mackey didn’t seem like he got into much of a rhythm. I think all that changes this week against Section … Sand Rock 35, Section 14.
Cedar Bluff at Spring Garden: The Tigers have had this game circled on their calendar since last season’s 16-6 loss to the Panthers.
But don’t be so quick to dismiss Spring Garden. This is a team that is for real. Just ask Gaylesville. Trey Littlefield and Tyler Messer ran all over the Trojans. Reece Johnson is making good decisions at quarterback, only throwing the ball when he knows the defense isn’t expecting it. He may have to throw it a little more this week against the Tiger defense.
The Tigers also feature a bevy of offensive talent led by quarterback Kyle Crane. I think he, too, will have to make a few more plays against a Spring Garden defense that’s holding its own, too.
So who to pick? It’s a tough call, and normally I would say go with the home team, but I think Cedar Bluff has a little more to prove after last year’s loss … Cedar Bluff 21, Spring Garden 19.
Arkansas at Auburn: Just what’s going on at Auburn? The Tigers have one of the most impressive defenses in the nation, but the offense is certainly not holding it’s end of the bargain. If you saw last week’s 14-13 loss to Vanderbilt, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Things better turn around for the offense soon, or the Tigers may be in jeopardy of not making a bowl game.
A team that can relate to the Tigers is Arkansas. They, too, have their problems and are looking for answers, especially after getting roasted 38-7 by Florida last week.
My head says Arkansas, but I get the feeling the Tigers will get one more big play late in the game than the Razorbacks … Auburn 17, Arkansas 10.
Jacksonville State at Eastern Kentucky: Maurice Dupree finally had that big breakout game he was looking for against Southeast Missouri last week. In case you missed it, the former Cherokee County High standout had three catches for 92 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown reception.
As impressive as those numbers were, it was Dupree’s 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half that really got JSU going. That return tied Dupree for the second longest kickoff return in Division I-AA this season.
I think last week’s outing will carry over this week, not only for Dupree, but the rest of the Gamecocks as well … JSU 34, Eastern Kentucky 14.
Bonus College Picks
Editor’s note: Since Alabama and Troy don’t play this weekend, I thought I’d give you three other picks of national games of interest.
Tennessee at Georgia: This game is a must for both teams if they want to challenge Vanderbilt (Yes, I said Vanderbilt) for the SEC East title.
The Vols are struggling offensively, especially after the past two weeks. Following their loss to Auburn two weeks ago, Tennessee had to sweat it out against Northern Illinois in a 13-9 win.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have had a week off, and they needed it after getting whipped by Alabama. I look for Georgia head coach Mark Richt to have Georgia clicking on all cylinders in a rout … Georgia 35, Tennessee 7.
LSU at Florida: This one should be a doozy. The Gators have a load of offensive talent led by quarterback Tim Tebow. The Tigers are led by a stout defense.
There’s no question The Swamp is a tough place to play, but LSU has had a week off to prepare. I think that extra week will prove to pay dividends for the Tigers … LSU 24, Florida 23.
Oklahoma vs. Texas: There’s been a lot of debate of whether the Sooners should be ranked No. 1 or not. They get their first big test this week against the Longhorns.
There’s no doubting the talent Oklahoma has on offense, led by quarterback Sam Bradford. He threw for 372 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-17 rout of Baylor last week.
Stopping Bradford is a must for the Longhorns. Even if they are successful in doing that, I still think the Sooners have a little more punch than the Horns … Oklahoma 26, Texas 23.