It’s hard to predict which teams will still be playing football in Week 11, especially since they haven’t played a regular season game yet. But after talking to coaches, looking at rosters, schedules and regions, I feel like I can make a guess. And if nothing else, it’ll give the coaches and players a chance to prove me wrong. Below you’ll find all the teams from the DH coverage area that are eligible for the playoffs (either AHSAA or AISA – this means Alabama School for the Deaf is not listed because they do not compete in a region in AHSAA play) and some explanation as to why I think they will or will not make a postseason appearance in 2009. All right, here we go…
AHSAA Class 1A
Fayetteville – The Wolves lost nearly half of their 2008 roster to graduation and now have a new coach. Playing in a region with TC Central, Loachapoka and Wadley won’t do them any favors. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2004 and they won’t do it in 2009.
Ragland – This will be the youngest team Brian Mintz has had at Ragland in quite a while. The Purple Devils will struggle in a few games this year and yet their region will save them because as young as they are, they’ll still be better than a lot of the teams they play. Don’t be fooled by their record…the Purple Devils will make the playoffs, but I’ll be shocked if they make it out of the first round.
Talladega County Central – It’s a little hard to know what the Fighting Tigers will do this season, but the athletes will be there. They may not be as experienced as the ones that played last year, but they’ll be playing in the postseason.
Victory Christian – The Lions may play in the same region as Ragland and the schools may be located in the same county, but that’s about all the two teams have in common in 2009. Where Ragland is young, Victory is loaded with experience. The Lions lost very little from last year’s playoff team. Expect them to make the playoffs and possibly host the first round.
Winterboro – The Bulldogs should make the playoffs, but they’ll have to show up every week and play the entire four quarters. Winterboro had a lot of turnovers in the spring scrimmage against B.B. Comer. They can’t do that much this year if they want to play in Week 11.
B.B. Comer – Every single year I can talk myself into B.B. Comer making the playoffs. But they may stand a better chance this year. Tripp Henderson is back for his second season as the head coach of the Tigers and I think he’s got the program headed in the right direction. So I’ll go out on a limb and say the Tigers will still be playing in Week 11. It’s up to them to prove me right.
Central-Coosa – There may not be another school in the state that has as much coaching turnover as they do at Central-Coosa. That leaves them at a huge disadvantage when it comes to putting together a winning season. The players rarely know who their coach will be in the fall when they get out of school for the summer. The Cougars have plenty of talent, but they’ll be taking that talent to the gym after Week 10 this year.
Childersburg – The Tigers are another team I usually give far too much credit to. With a new coach and some talent on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to know just what they’ll do. I know they don’t have an easy road to the playoffs in the region they’re in. But the Tigers could be in the fight for the fourth playoff spot this season.
Lincoln – Everyone expects Lincoln to make the playoffs and they should, but it wouldn’t shock me to see the Golden Bears traveling in the first round. They may have D.J. Howard back and in tip-top shape, but this is not the same team that made the quarterfinals of the playoffs a year ago. A lot of the other teams in the region have gotten better and it won’t be easy for the Bears to repeat as region champs.
Munford – The Lions won’t make the playoffs this season, but they’re not a team opponents should take lightly. Playing with 24 kids on the roster last season, the Lions were a field goal away from defeating rival Lincoln. Most of those playmakers are gone now, but Todd Smith’s players will give every opponent a fight each week. Sadly, it won’t be enough to put them in the playoffs.
Sylacauga – The Aggies come in as possibly the most experienced team in our coverage area. They lost some linemen from last year’s playoff team, but return most of their skill players. Matt Griffith’s team should be pretty good this season and definitely good enough to make the playoffs.
Talladega – Ah, Talladega. I really wish I could wait and make my pick after I see them play a game. The Tigers would need three region wins to get in the playoffs because they play in a region with just seven teams. It sounds doable, right? The Tigers have yet another new coach and the fans are really excited about Chris Mahand taking over the program. He took the Fighting Tigers of TC Central all the way to the state championship. Can he turn things around at THS? There’s nobody more confident of his chances for success than he is. Since I’m making these picks now, I’m going to have to say the Tigers won’t have to postpone basketball season this year. I really hope Mahand and company prove me wrong.
Pell City – For the first time in a long time Jay Brown’s dealing with a young team. A really young team. That doesn’t usually work too well in Class 6A. The Panthers will gain a lot of experience this year, but I think they’ll fall short of making the playoffs this season.
Coosa Valley Academy – The Rebels are putting new players all over the field this season. Vince DiLorenzo has stepped in as the head coach after serving as the defensive coordinator. It’s hard to know exactly how good Coosa Valley will be since they got in a couple of transfers from public schools. And it’s hard to know how good the competition in AISA will be each year because so many kids transfer in and out a lot. I think the Rebels are going to be too inexperienced to make the playoffs in 2009 though.
LaVonte Young will post his playoff predictions later today, so be sure to check out his blog as well.