Greater Valley Area teams prepare for playoff push halfway through the season
Published 11:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2022
We’ve reached the halfway point of football season in the Greater Valley Area, and teams are starting to learn who they are and where they stand in their regions. Half of the teams have played five games, and the other half have played four.
Every team in the area still has a chance to make the playoffs, and here are some scenarios for each team to make it to the postseason.
Beulah (0-4, 0-2 in region)
The Beulah Bobcats haven’t had the best start to their season, but they still have six games left on the schedule.
Their two region losses have come to Walter Wellborn and Saks.
Their path to the playoffs won’t be easy as they still have region games against Dadeville and Randolph County, who are both undefeated.
The Bobcats will have to beat Childersburg and Weaver to earn that fourth playoff spot.
Luckily, both of those games will be at home. Beulah’s loss to Walter Wellborn may come back to haunt them as the Bobcats lost the head-to-head battle.
The odds aren’t looking great for the Bobcats, but a strong finish could put them in fourth in the region.
Chambers Academy (3-2, 1-0 in region)
The Chambers Academy Rebels got off to a slow start losing their first two games, but they’ve continuously improved to win three straight.
Their goal isn’t to make it to the playoffs but to win state as a whole. The Rebels missed the state championship last year for the first time in seven years, and they’ll look to make it back to the title game.
Chambers Academy head coach Jason Allen is pleased with his team’s progress throughout the first half of the season.
“It started out kind of rough,” Allen said. “We played two schools that I thought were better than us. I thought our kids played hard. We knew it was going to take time to figure out who we were. We got exposed early. It really prepared us. Week three against Edgewood was a big game for us. It really slowed down. We’ve gotten better each week. We’ve been very physical, which is who we have to be. I like where our team is right now.”.
The Rebels’ two losses have come to Lee-Scott, who is undefeated, and First Presbyterian Day, who has been one of the top independent schools in Georgia.
Their biggest challenge for the remainder of the season will be fighting Macon-East for the top spot in their region. For Allen, that’s the key to making the state championship.
“We have a chance,” Allen said. “We have to keep getting better. We have to be a little more balanced on offense. We want to finish strong. I’m proud of our kids. I think they’re excited about what we can become. Our goal is to win the region so we can have home field advantage in the playoffs.”
The Rebels will play their next game against Bessemer Academy, and then they’ll have a bye week before playing three straight region games.
LaFayette (1-4, 1-2 in region)
The LaFayette Bulldogs haven’t had the best start to their season, but they will have a shot at making the playoffs for the third straight year under head coach Juan Williams.
The Bulldogs have a young team, and they haven’t been performing as well as they have in the past few years.
Their region isn’t doing them any favors, as their only region win is over last-place Barbour County.
Their two losses are to Goshen, who is ranked below them, and Reeltown, who is undefeated in the region.
Despite the rough start to the season, Williams feels confident about his team’s ability to finish strong.
“We haven’t been where we wanted to be,” Williams said. “Our young guys are getting better weekly. They’re learning about adversity. We hope we can put it together before it’s over with.”
The Bulldogs have a bye week this week, and Williams will use it to his full advantage.
“We’re going to see what we’re doing well on film,” Williams said. “Special teams needs to be better. We have to win in all three phases, and we’re not winning in all three phases. We’re working on conditioning. A lot of our players play both ways, so we’re trying to give other kids an opportunity to play.”
LaFayette has four more games on their schedule, and they’re all region games.
If they can hold off against Horseshoe Bend, who is tied for last in the region, they’ll still have a shot at the fourth playoff spot.
The Bulldogs have a tough two game stretch where they play their rival, Lanett, and Highland Home, who is number two in 2A this year. If they can beat Lanett, they can steal that fourth spot and make the playoffs.
Lanett (2-3, 1-2 in region)
The Lanett Panthers, like LaFayette, have a young team that has struggled through the first half of the season.
The Panthers have started the season 2-3 for the first time in eight years. They’re still hanging on to the fourth spot in the region.
The good news for the Panthers is the most difficult part of their region schedule is done. They still have to face Reeltown, who is undefeated in the region, but they will face three region teams who have worse records.
“It hasn’t worked out how I thought it would work out,” Story said about the first half of their season. “The kids don’t know a lot about football, so we have to coach every aspect of the game. Overall, I’m pleased with them not giving up and still fighting.”
Story feels like the schedule has made it tough on his kids this season.
“It’s no different from what we’ve had in the past,” Story said. “We embrace it. I want them to get hit in the mouth and see how they respond. We’re young. They’re going to learn from it. I can assure you, in two or three years, they’ll be playing for a state championship because the group of kids we have will get bigger and stronger.”
The Panthers are tied with Goshen and LaFayette for fourth in the region, and they’ll need a strong showing in the second half to make the playoffs.
Springwood (3-1, 3-1 in region)
The Springwood Wildcats are playing their first ever season of 8-man football, and they’ve been doing well so far through the first half of the season.
Head coach Joey Burch has them sitting at 3-1, and they’re in second place in the AISA 8-man league.
While there aren’t multiple regions for 8-man, Springwood just has to be one of the top four teams out of the six AISA 8-man teams to make the playoffs.
The first half of their season has been relatively easy, but they’ll have a tough stretch of non-region games before they end the season against region opponent North River.
Springwood’s only loss this season was a two-point loss to Cornerstone Christian.
If the Wildcats continue to be successful running the ball, they shouldn’t have too much trouble making the playoffs.
They already beat half of the teams in their region, and they’ll only face two teams with winning records for the rest of the season.
Valley (2-2, 1-1 in region)
The Valley Rams dropped down to 5A after spending the last two seasons in 6A.
They’re sitting at 2-2, and it’s hard to tell where this team is at through four games.
One of their two wins was against 2A Lanett while the other was against Sylacauga, who is at the bottom of their region.
One of their two losses was to 4A Handley, who is undefeated, and region opponent Beauregard, who is also undefeated.
Their next six games will determine who they are as a team and where they stand in their difficult region.
The good news for the Rams is there are only six teams in their region.
Their region game against Central of Clay County in two weeks will tell whether they’re a middle of the pack team or one of the top teams in their region.
If the Rams beat Elmore County and Tallassee, they should clinch a spot in the playoffs.