FOOTBALL TONIGHT: Red Bay, Mars Hill face off for big game

What a week for football in Franklin County!

Any other week, Russellville’s homecoming matchup against East Limestone would be the game to see in the county, as both teams will be battling it out for the top spot in Class 5A, Region 8.

This week, however, the game to be at is on the west end of Franklin County, where the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in Class 2A, Mars Hill and Red Bay, face off in a muchanticipated battle. Right now, Mars Hill might be the best team in northwest Alabama in any classification. Red Bay wants to pull off the upset and keep a home winning streak intact.

Meanwhile, Tharptown hosts Hatton, and Vina travels to Hackleburg.

CANCELLED: Phil Campbell (4-3) hosts East Lawrence (6-1)

This game had to be cancelled because of several positive COVID-19 cases within the Phil Campbell football program. The game will result in a forfeiture and will go down as a loss for Phil Campbell and win for East Lawrence. The Bobcats aim to be back in action Oct. 23 against Danville to secure a playoff spot.

Red Bay (5-0) hosts Mars Hill (6-1)

Get to this game early if you want a seat – and don’t expect much social distancing. The No. 2 and No. 3 teams in Class 2A will meet at Red Bay Friday night in a muchanticipated matchup.

The Mars Hill Panthers quickly vaulted to the top of Class 1A football the past two years after starting the infant program less than 10 years ago. The two teams have played four times, with Red Bay holding a 3-1 record.

The Tigers handily defeated the Panthers 2014, 2015 and 2016, but Mars Hill won in 2017. Fast forward a few years, and Mars Hill is one of the most dominant programs in northwest Alabama in any classification.

Mars Hill has lost one game – to Class 6A Jasper. The Panthers have rolled through every region game averaging 50 points per game, mostly in the first half, and giving up 76 basically junk points late in the game to teams.

Their other notable wins are a 21-6 win over top Class 6A, Region 8 team Cullman and a 21-0 shutout win over a top Class 5A Region 8 team East Limestone.

Red Bay is undefeated; the Tigers’ sputtering start, however, is well-documented, with the boys playing few games in the first half of the season. The Tiger defense has been dominant, helping the offense get the motor running to some easy wins.

Russellville (5-1) hosts East Limestone (6-1)

No easy homecoming game for the Golden Tigers. This is the best region team Russellville will face.

The Golden Tigers are well-rested, coming off an open week. They can lock up the top seed in the Class 5A Region 8 with a win.

East Limestone is 6-1, with the team’s lone loss coming to Class 2A powerhouse Mars Hill 21-0.

Both Russellville and East Limestone played Lawrence County this year – clearly the best common opponent in that region – and it was not even close. The Golden Tigers won that game 27-18, and East Limestone beat the Red Devils 20-13. So, if those two scores are any indication, this will be a very tight football game.

Both offenses look to be about the same, while Russellville should have a defensive edge. The Golden Tigers have given up 21 points in region play, while East Limestone has given up 70 points. Russellville is 8-2 all time against East Limestone and has won three straight over the Indians.

Tharptown (3-4) hosts Hatton (2-5)

Tharptown hosts rival Hatton in the last home game of the season for the Wildcats. Tharptown has struggled mightily in region games, not scoring a point and their opponents scoring 50-plus in each game. The Wildcats has shown flashes of being able to play in some of these games, but too many turnovers have thwarted any chances of keeping games close.

Hatton is also winless in region play, but their scores have been much tighter with opponents. They lost to Colbert County 24-16 and Lexington 13-12.

The Hatton boys do have one trophy win they can hang their hat on. They beat the top team in Class 3A Region 8 East Lawrence 38-12.

Tharptown is 0-6 against the Hatton Hornets. Hatton won this game last year 51-7 and went 5-5 last year in Class 2A region play. Because of the close proximity of the two schools, this has the makings of a natural rivalry game.

Vina (1-6) at Hackleburg (3-4)

The Red Devils are coming off their first win of the season, beating Cherokee 32-6. The Red Devils hope to maintain that momentum against rival Hackleburg this week, which beat Phillips 44-0 last week.

Both teams have played Shoals Christian, with Hackleburg winning 50-15 and Vina losing 20-8.

Hackleburg is Vina’s longestrunning series, with the two teams playing each other 67 times dating back to 1930. The Panthers have owned this series with a record of 9-55-3. The last time the Red Devils won was in 2001, giving Hackleburg a 17game win streak.

Hackleburg won 46-8 last year.

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