A look at the playoffs
By Bart Moss for the FCT
Four Franklin County football teams will continue their season Thursday night in the state playoffs.
Many teams in North Alabama, including all four Franklin County teams, have had their playoff games moved to Thursday night at 7 p.m. because of the possibility of severe weather Friday.
Red Bay and Russellville will host playoff games. Phil Campbell and Vina will be on the road in the first round of the playoffs.
Red Bay finished the regular season undefeated for the first time since 2007 and first in Class 2A, Region 8. The Tigers will host Addison, which finished fourth in Region 6. This is the Tigers’ second playoff appearance under coach Michael Jackson.
“We are very excited to start the playoffs,” said Red Bay Coach Michael Jackson. “We have worked to gain depth to get ready for the more physical demands of the playoffs.”
Jackson said Addison “is a well-coached football team that will bring a huge crowd and a lot of pride. They are physical and like to control the ball. Running the football and stopping the run will be key for us to have a good night and have a chance to advance to the second round.”
Russellville finished first in Class 5A, Region 8, and will host Anniston, which finished fourth in Class 5A, Region 4. This is Russellville’s second straight playoff appearance under Coach Mark Heaton.
“We are very thankful we are hosting a first-round playoff game as a number one seed,” said Heaton, who is in his second year as the Golden Tigers football coach. “Our kids are playing really well right now defensively.”
Anniston, Heaton said, is a “very tough matchup. They are very athletic and playing great football late in the season. We need our fans to come out in force and create an electric atmosphere to give a true home field advantage.”
Phil Campbell will be making its second straight playoff appearance under Coach Ryan Swinney. The Bobcats finished fourth in Class 2A, Region 8, and probably have the toughest first round opponent of any local team as they travel to play the No. 2 team in the state in Class 2A: the Tanner Rattlers.
“We are excited to be in the playoffs for the second straight year,” said Swinney. “For these boys to overcome all the adversity they have faced this year and still make the playoffs speaks highly of their character and work ethic.”
Swinney described Tanner as “extremely talented.”
“They are big, and they are fast,” Swinney said. “It will be a huge challenge for our guys. We are going to go there, and we are going to compete and enjoy the moment.”
Vina earned a playoff spot this year, finishing fourth in Class 1A, Region 8. The Red Devils also face a tough opening round opponent at fourth-ranked Berry, which finished first in Class 1A, Region 4.
“Our players are really excited and fired up to be in the playoffs,” said Vina Coach Luke Childers. “It’s not only something that’s new to the kids but the coaches as well.”
He added, “Berry is a really good team. They have a lot of speed and some really good skill position players. I think it will be a hard-fought game. Our players want to make it to the second round, so we are going to have to give it all we’ve got.”
All playoff games will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday night.