Only 26 Alabama High School Athletic Association member schools are still playing football this week, including Class 6A No. 3 Pinson Valley and Class 5A No. 9 Mortimer Jordan.
Mortimer Jordan vs. Central-Clay County
Here we are again.
Thanksgiving week is upon us, which means there’s a turkey to carve on Thursday and a game to play on Friday. In a rematch of last year’s Class 5A state semifinal bout, ninth-ranked Mortimer Jordan (11-2) is scheduled to host No. 4 Central-Clay County (11-2) for a berth in the state championship game next week in Auburn. This will be the fourth meeting between the two Region 5 opponents over the last two years, with Mortimer Jordan winning both regular-season contests to go with a fourth-round playoff loss last November.
▪ Oct. 5, 2018: Mortimer Jordan 32, Central-Clay County 27
▪ Nov. 30, 2018: Central-Clay County 20, Mortimer Jordan 17 (postseason)
▪ Oct. 4, 2019: Mortimer Jordan 34, Central-Clay County 28
The Vols needed a fourth-quarter comeback to survive their trip to Jimmie Trotter Stadium last year in the semifinals. They erased a 17-7 deficit with a pair of late touchdowns that led to a 20-17 win and an eventual state championship. The loss admittedly lingered for Mortimer Jordan head coach Dusty Goode.
“I’ve thought about the ending to that Clay-Central game every day and I think I will for the rest of my life,” said Goode prior to the 2019 season.
He and his Blue Devils captured a little revenge with a 34-28 region win over the defending state champions back in early October. Central-Clay County struggled to account for Mortimer Jordan quarterback Kourtlan Marsh in that contest. The senior was responsible for 353 yards of offense (191 through the air and another 162 on the ground) and five touchdowns in the win.
With 49 touchdowns accounted for, Marsh has been nothing short of dominant this year. I favor him and his teammates in this one.
The winner of No. 3 Pleasant Grove (12-1) versus No. 6 Briarwood Christian (12-1) represents the south next week in Auburn.
Pinson Valley at Oxford
Much like its Class 5A counterpart, the north 6A semifinal game will serve as a rematch between region opponents; in this case, Region 6 members Pinson Valley (10-2) and Oxford (12-1).
The fourth-ranked Yellow Jackets ended a 15-game home winning streak for Pinson Valley in Week 4 thanks to a 19-point comeback in Willie Adams Stadium. Oxford quarterback Revy Higgins threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns, including the 33-yard, game-winner to Miguel Mitchell late in the fourth quarter of a 34-33 road victory. The Yellow Jackets struggled to run the ball that night, but wide receiver Rokafewlloa Taylor picked up the slack with 114 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions. Pinson Valley quarterback Barry White also had success, completing eight passes to Keyonteze Johnson for 160 yards and a score, and finding Ga’puincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry nine times for another 112 yards in the loss.
White would however, toss a pair of second-half interceptions as his team’s three-score lead melted away.
Since then, the Tribe has gone on to piece seven straight wins together—each by double-digit margins. Six of those wins have come by three touchdowns or more.
It’s hard to beat a good team twice in one year, and I believe Oxford falls victim to the ole cliche this Friday.
Winner gets the winner of No. 5 Opelika (11-1) versus Spanish Fort (8-4) next week in Auburn.