Keondrick Hankins

Mortimer Jordan senior Keondrick Hankins (2) breaks a tackle in Jimmie Trotter Stadium during a 41-0 region win over Moody on Oct. 25, 2019.

Losing is no longer an option for those remaining. 

This week marks the beginning of the Alabama High School Athletic Association football playoffs with 208 teams, representing seven different classifications, set to take part in first-round play. Five of those teams are within range of NJN coverage, and each of their matchups are previewed below. 

Fultondale vs. BB Comer

Fultondale’s 25th postseason appearance will begin on Wildcats Field against the 4-seed coming out of Class 3A, Region 6. 

BB Comer (5-5), who played its region games within the confines of what’s considered the most ambitious league in 3A, lost to its top three region opponents: 

▪ No. 3 Randolph County, 43-14

▪ No. 6 Walter Wellborn, 56-26

▪ No. 5 Piedmont, 52-14

The Tigers struggled to compete against the top three seeds in Region 6, dropping those contests by an average score of 50-18. They did however, end the regular season winning three of their last four against Pleasant Valley (5-5), Weaver (0-10) and Fayetteville (6-4). 

BB Comer scores an average of 31 points per game and eclipsed that mark last week with a 37-21 victory over rival Fayetteville, which clinched its first playoff berth in six years. According to statistics posted to maxpreps.com, the Tigers finished with seven sacks last week, which resulted in 78 yards lost. Those sacks included, they secured 20 tackles for loss against the Wolves in Week 10. 

I expect Fultondale (8-2) to protect quarterback Willie Smith better than Class 2A Fayetteville did last week. I’ve got Fultondale breaking through to the second round for the third time in as many years. 

Mortimer Jordan vs. Boaz

Both teams scheduled aggressively this season, opting to save their open dates for Week 10.

Boaz (4-6), the 4-seed representing Class 5A, Region 6, ended its regular season with a 35-14 loss to fifth-ranked Etowah on Oct. 24. According to The Gadsden Times, both Pirate touchdowns came on 22-yard passes from Easton Hardin to Chandler Earnest and Carson Chamblee. Defensively, Boaz allowed two different Etowah rushers to break the century mark in their sixth loss of the year. 

With quarterback Kourtlan Marsh (942 rushing yards on the year) and running back Keondrick Hankins (708) in the backfield, No. 9 Mortimer Jordan (8-2) is more than capable of exploiting a shaky run defense. I expect the Region 5 champions to march into the round of 16 for the sixth straight season. 

The Pirates have not lost consecutive games since opening the year with back-to-back missteps against Arab and Guntersville. They also have not followed any of their four wins with another this fall. 

Pinson Valley vs. Homewood

Homewood (4-6) has not beaten an ASWA top-10 team this season and I don’t expect that to change this Friday when the No. 3-seed Patriots visit Willie Adams Stadium, where the fourth-ranked Indians have won 16 of their last 17. 

Quarterback Pate Owen is completing a little more than 60% of his passes in this his senior year with the Patriots. He has 1,914 yards passing, 17 scores and an interception to his name in nine games played, according to statistics posted to maxpreps.com. His best receiver has been senior Trae Ausmer, who has 930 yards and eight touchdowns on 63 receptions. 

That duo will be tested against a Pinson Valley defense that averages 12 points allowed per game and has pitched three shutouts in its last four games. The Indians enter the postseason as the No. 2-seed coming out of Class 6A, Region 6 with a record of 7-2. 

Gardendale at Minor

Minor (6-4) has been tough at home this season.

The 2-seed in Class 6A, Region 5, Minor has not lost on its home turf since Week 1 against Paul Bryant, and finished the regular season with a mark of 4-1 in Minor Stadium. The Tigers ended the regular season on a four-game winning streak thanks to wins over Homewood, Chelsea, Carver-Birmingham and Bessemer City (three of which are playoff teams). 

Last week, Minor took down Bessemer City 14-13 on Halloween night. The Tigers were sparked by senior receiver Jamari Jemison, who was responsible for 60 of Alex Glass’ 74 yards passing in the win. The pair hooked up for a 55-yard score in the first quarter. 

On the other side, 3-seed Gardendale (7-3) is 4-1 as the road team this year. I expect the Rockets to improve upon that record on Friday night, giving head coach Chad Eads his second playoff win in as many years with Gardendale. 

Corner at Madison County

Corner (7-3) is back in the postseason in head coach Jon Clements’ second season with the Jackets. 

However, the program is 1-13 all-time in first-round playoff games—a figure aided by last year’s 34-8 loss at eventual state champion Central-Clay County. 

To shake free from that trend, the No. 4-seed Jackets will have to go on the road to beat the champions of Class 5A, Region 8. Madison County (8-2) currently rides a seven-game winning streak, dating back to Sept. 12.

The Tigers have scored no less than 42 points in each of their last three games before taking a bye last week.

I expect Corner to run the ball enough to make this 1-4 matchup interesting in the fourth quarter, and from there, it’s anyone’s game.

Erik Harris is the sports editor for The North Jefferson News. He can be reached at sports@njeffersonnews.com

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