A Look Ahead: Separation time is here

By Bart Moss

For the FCT

Franklin County has reached the midway point in the season. Teams are coming off non-region games or open dates last week, and this week, teams will be back in region play.

For teams still in the play-off hunt, each week will take on a greater sense of urgency. The season is not to make-or-break games yet – but it is getting close. This is where play-off contenders will start to separate themselves.

Russellville is undefeated (5-0) at the halfway point and firmly in control of its destiny. The Golden Tigers host Lawrence County this week.

Phil Campbell will host a strong Westminster Christian team. Red Bay returns home after a month on the road to take on Sheffield. Vina will host the Mars Hill juggernaut. Tharptown has the week off.

Phil Campbell (2-3; 1-1) hosts Westminster Christian (6-0; 3-0)

After winning two straight games, Phil Campbell lost a disappointing game to the Phillips Bears last week. The Bobcats were never able to get much going on offense and had a hard time stopping the Bears defensively.

It definitely doesn’t get any easier this week as the Bobcats host undefeated Westminster Christian Academy. The Wildcats are averaging 48.5 points per game and giving up just 14.5 points per game. They have easily defeated common opponents of the Bobcats, Lexington 39-0 and Clements 60-14.

Phil Campbell is averaging 11.8 points per game against similar opponents and giving up 26.5 points per game.

“This is a very good football team,” said Phil Campbell coach Kevin Barnwell. “They have the whole package. They have a good quarterback, quick and physical running backs and a good offensive line. This is as good a team as we will face all year.”

Red Bay (2-2; 1-1) hosts Sheffield (4-2; 2-1)

Red Bay is coming off a bye week and got some much-needed rest. The Tigers won their first two games of the season before dropping two straight to Addison and Belmont.

Red Bay will be playing at home for the first time since August, much to the relief of players, coaches and fans alike. The Tigers host the Sheffield Bulldogs.

Sheffield has a lot of team speed and one of the best kickers in the area. The Bulldogs are averaging 17.4 points per game and giving up 27.8 points per game against comparable competition. They have only played one common opponent of the Tigers, defeating Hatton 17-16.

Red Bay is averaging 27.8 points per game and giving up 17 points per game.

“This will be our most important game of the year as far as the playoffs go,” said Red Bay coach Michael Jackson. “Sheffield has good team speed, and they want to play in space. We must control the ball and limit their big plays.”

Russellville (5-0; 2-0) hosts Lawrence County (2-3; 2-1)

The Russellville Golden Tigers hope to extended their undefeated win streak to six games when they host the Lawrence County Red Devils Friday night. Russellville is coming off a non-region win over Haleyville last week.

Lawrence County is averaging 24.8 points per game but giving up 30.6 points per game. The Red Devils have played two of the Golden Tigers’ common opponents, defeating Hayden 25-22 and West Point 43-7. Russellville is averaging 40 points per game and giving up 19.6 points per game.

“Lawrence County has a good football team,” said Russellville coach John Ritter. “They are very explosive offensively. The can really throw the ball around. Defensively, they are hard-nosed and will make us earn everything that we get.

“We are excited to be where we are but understand we haven’t accomplished anything to this point,” Ritter added. “We must handle our business the second half of the year to accomplish one of our goals of returning to the playoffs.”

Tharptown (1-4; 0-3) does not play

The Tharptown Wildcats get another much-needed week off. This is the second bye week of the season for the Wildcats.

Tharptown returns to action next week when the Wildcats travel to region leader Addison. Tharptown is averaging 15.8 points per game and giving up 50.8 points per game.

“We needed a break,” said Tharptown coach Kevin Lacey. “We have run the gauntlet when it comes to our schedule, and we are about to have to do it again. Hopefully, we can get some guys healthy and rested and come back and compete in the second half of the season.”

Vina (0-5; 0-2) hosts Mars Hill (4-1; 3-0)

Vina has the unenviable task of facing one of the top five teams in all of northwest Alabama this week: the Mars Hill Bulldogs. Mars Hill has steamrolled all but one of their opponents, the Brooks Lions. Mars Hill led the entire game but lost to Brooks 35-34 late. The Panthers are averaging a whopping 54.6 points per game and giving up just 13.8 points per game. Vina is averaging 2.2 points per game and giving up 44.8 points per game.

“Mars Hill is big and fast,” said Vina coach Jason Harris. “They are very disciplined and might have the best line in the state in 1A. We’ve got to try and execute our offense better and keep the ball away from them as much as possible.”

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