A lot is riding on this game for the Tigers, specifically the need to remain in the hunt for a postseason berth. With its loss to Spring Garden last week, Cedar Bluffs 10-year streak of postseason appearances is in jeopardy. The Tigers currently hold the Class 1A, Region 7 third seed, a game ahead of the Panthers. Gaston, which last week fattened up on region bottom-feeder Skyline, is tied with Gaylesville for the second spot. The Bluff defense is facing one of its top challenges of the season in sophomore halfback Demont Buice, who has rushed for 1,386 yards and 28 touchdowns on 111 carries. The Tigers have gotten the better of Gaston the past two seasons, but the Bulldogs own a 5-3 series edge over the last eight years. Cedar Bluff needs a stellar effort to exit the Shinbone at 4-4.
Valley Head (7-0) at Gaylesville (5-2)
The Trojans are tied with Gaston for the regions second seed, and a good showing against the No. 10 Tigers will keep alive the Purple and White squads slim hopes for a region championship. The Trojans supplied the final nail in the coffin to Collinsvilles postseason hopes last week, while Valley Head coasted past region cellar-dweller Woodville. The Gaylesville offense has several strengths, but passing itself out a big deficit isnt one of them. Expect the offense to mostly keep it on the ground while the Gaylesville defense deals with the Tigers Wing-T formations. The Trojans havent beaten Valley Head since 2001, and a win on Friday should clinch Gaylesvilles second straight playoff berth.
Spring Garden (3-4) vs. Woodville (0-7) at Pisgah
All those who have misplaced a monkey wrench, look no further than the Class 1A, Region 7 standings. Thats what the Panthers threw into the region playoff picture with their 16-6 win over Cedar Bluff last week. Spring Garden not only got rid of a 20-year itch against Cedar Bluff, but the Maroon & Yellow squad is just a game out of region's fourth seed at 2-3. The Panthers faced the meat of their region schedule earlier in the year against the likes of Gaston and Valley Head, and now their reward is consecutive games against region punching bags Woodville and Skyline. Spring Garden beat both teams handily in 06. If the Panthers can accomplish as much over the next two weeks, the Garden could be looking at third place in the region with a 4-3 mark.
Cherokee County (3-4) at Jacksonville (1-6)
The Warriors loss to Alexandria last week more or less drew the curtains on a possible Class 4A, Region 6 title. Even worse, CCHS fell from a first-place to fourth-place region tie with a 3-2 region record. In effect, The Warriors must win on Friday and in Week 9 against Boaz to have a shot at the No. 2 spot. If the Centre squad splits the next two weeks, a playoff spot is in peril. That latter scenario doesnt seem likely, especially against the one-win Golden Eagles. CCHS head coach Tom Curry spoke prior the season of the necessity of starting to peak around the sixth or seventh game, so the Warriors are behind schedule in that regard.
Piedmont (5-2) at North Sand Mountain (4-3)
The Bulldogs easily defeated a pretty good Section team last week, a victory which puts Piedmont and Sand Rock neck-and-neck in the race for the Class 2A, Region 7 runner-up spot. A win over the Thundering Herd would give the Dogs a 5-1 region mark going into next weeks game against the Wildcats. The Bison are improved this year, but not enough to pull off an upset in Higdon on Friday.
Skyline (1-6) at Collinsville (1-6)
At least the Panthers have plenty of company in the lower echelon of Class 1A, Region 7 this year. Alan Becketts rebuilding process should receive a shot in the arm in the form of the Vikings. Collinsville posted a 36-point victory in last years meeting. That sounds about right for this time around