Springwood looks to win first region title since 2001 in week nine
Published 2:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022
It’s been a difficult year for most of the schools in the Greater Valley Area, but there are still a few games left with a lot of meaning.
Week eight saw the Lanett Panthers clinch a playoff spot while Valley came up short in their region.
Chambers Academy won its seventh straight region title while Springwood secured its first winning season since 2014.
Email newsletter signup
LaFayette and Beulah both dropped games to tough opponents to miss the playoffs.
This week features the most important game in Springwood’s season.
Game of the week: Springwood (5-3) at North River (3-6)
The Springwood Wildcats are coming off of a big 30-8 win over New Creation, but now they have their eyes set on their first region title in 21 years.
If the Wildcats win on Friday, they will be the region champion no matter what happens.
If they lose to North River, either the Chargers or Southern Prep will win the region.
Even though every team in the Alabama Independent School Association 8-man will make the playoffs, winning the region means the Wildcats will have home field advantage in the final four as well as a first round bye.
Springwood head coach Joey Burch is focusing on getting his team healthy before its final game of the season.
“It’s a huge game,” Burch said.
“We’ve struggled the last three weeks. We had a lot of injuries and the flu. We hadn’t practiced very well, and we hadn’t played very well. We had a little reset and a come to Jesus meeting with the coaches and players. Our kids responded great. A big part of winning the championship is winning Friday night. We were very impressed with the leadership our kids showed.”
For Burch, he’s just trying to use practice to focus on the fundamentals.
“We’re trying to go back to basics,” Burch said.
“That’s one of the things the coaching staff got away with. We’ve gone back to blocking and tackling and doing the little things well. Our timing has been off in several games. We feel like that will get us in the right direction again.”
Burch is looking forward to the opportunity to lead Springwood to their first region title since 2001, especially in his first year as head coach.
“I’m just proud of everything we’ve accomplished so far,” Burch said.
“It’s all about changing the culture. I think we have changed it. We’re doing the right things in the classroom and the weight room. I think that’s something to be proud of. Our kids are getting a quality experience this year. We’ve had wins. We’ve had close losses. Football teaches those lessons. It would be a cherry on top to win out and be champions.”
Burch mentioned the health of his players is improving.
“We had several players yesterday running without limps,” Burch said.
“We’re all bandaged up and ready to fully practice. The last few weeks we’ve had players recovering instead of being on the practice field and that hurt us.”
This will be the first ever meeting between these two teams, and there’s a lot at stake for both programs.
The game will be played in Tuscaloosa on Friday at 8 p.m. EST.
Carroll (5-3) at Valley (3-5)
The Valley Rams are coming off of a disappointing 17-13 loss to Elmore County that eliminated them from playoff contention.
The Rams will now look to finish strong in their final home game against Carroll, who beat Greenville 41-0 last week.
Valley will look to deal with its offensive struggles this week as the Rams have only scored 26 points in the last three weeks.
This game may also end up being the final home game ever for the Valley Rams with consolidation with LaFayette High on the horizon.
This will be the eleventh meeting between the two teams, and Valley has won nine out of the ten matchups.
The two teams last played in 2019 when the Rams won 42-13 on the road.
The game will be played at Ram Stadium at 8 p.m. EST on Friday night.
Hooper (2-6) at Chambers Academy
The Chambers Academy Rebels found their groove in the middle of the season, and it resulted in them winning their seventh straight region title with a dominant 56-20 win over Macon-East last week.
They’ll celebrate senior night with a matchup against a struggling Hooper team, which was shutout 20-0 by Edgewood last week.
The Rebels have already secured home field advantage for the playoffs, but head coach Jason Allen knows they still have two games to get better before the postseason.
“I treat every game the same,” Allen said.
“This game is important because it’s the next one. We don’t want to lose any games around here. We’ll prepare for this game the same way we did for our first eight. We want to send our seniors out in style. It’s a big night for those guys, and we want to play well for them.”
The Rebels have ten seniors, but two of them are out with injuries.
Allen wants his players to remember that they still have to play these games despite winning the region.
“That’s just coaching,” Allen said.
“You have to let the players know what the big picture is. We’re trying to get better every single day. At the end, you can’t make any excuses for not winning a game. It’s an ongoing process until that last game. You have to keep getting better to win the state championship.”
The Rebels have been dominating opponents with their heavy rushing attack, but Allen is thinking about opening up the playbook.
“We’re still progressing as an offense,” Allen said.
“We’re a dominant running football team. We know we would like to be a little more balanced. We understand that if we’re pretty good at something we’re not going to change who we are. Balance doesn’t always mean throwing the ball. It means attacking every part of the field. Hopefully we’ll play better this Friday than we did last Friday. I’d really like to get to 7-2. That would really say a lot about our season. The next one up is a big one.”
This will be the ninth meeting between the two teams, and the Rebels have only won one game.
The two teams last played in 2003 when Hooper won 6-0.
The Rebels have never scored more than 20 points against the Colts in series history.
The game will be played at Torbert-Allen field on Friday at 8 p.m. EST.
Barbour County (0-9) at Lanett (4-5)
The Lanett Panthers have struggled a lot this season, but they’re coming off of a 30-25 win over Goshen that clinched a playoff spot.
Barbour County is a program that has struggled in recent years, and they’re looking for their first win of the season after losing 57-8 to Horseshoe Bend.
The Panthers have dealt with a lot of issues this season, especially with losing starting quarterback Jarrious Goodman.
Senior Elijah Whitfield has stepped in under center, and they put up 75 points in the last two weeks after being shut out the previous two weeks.
Lanett will look to get a routine win over Barbour County before its first round playoff game against B.B. Comer on Nov. 4.
Lanett is 4-0 all-time against Barbour County, and the two teams last played in 2007 when the Panthers won 34-6 at home.
The game will be senior night for Lanett, and it will be played at Morgan-Washburn Stadium on Friday night at 8 p.m. EST.
LaFayette (2-6) at Luverne (5-4)
The LaFayette Bulldogs have struggled throughout the entire season due to having a young team, and things won’t get any easier as they finish their season on the road against a good Luverne team.
The Tigers are coming off of a 44-14 loss to Reeltown, and LaFayette is coming off of a 41-14 loss to Highland Home.
The Tigers have already clinched a spot in the playoffs, and LaFayette will not qualify for the postseason.
This could be the final game ever for LaFayette High School, and the Bulldogs will look to finish strong against a team that is in the middle of the pack in the region.
This will only be the second ever meeting between these two teams, and Luverne won 31-0 back in 1991.
The game will be played in Luverne on Friday at 8 p.m. EST.
Weaver (1-7) at Beulah (1-7)
The Beulah Bobcats have been struggling to find an offensive identity all season long, but they’ll have a chance to finish strong in a game against Weaver, who is coming off of a 22-12 loss to Walter Wellborn.
This will be homecoming for the Bobcats, and it will also be their last region game of the season.
This will be the third ever meeting between these two schools, and Weaver has won the previous two matchups.
They last played in 2003 when Weaver won 43-8.
The game will be played at Bobcat Stadium on Friday at 8 p.m. EST.