With the regular season swiftly dwindling down, the battle for state playoff spots continues to heat up.
Eleven Dothan Eagle coverage teams have clinched a playoff berth, though all are still seeking a first-round home playoff game with two weeks of region play still remaining. At least five teams could join the 11 this week with a postseason ticket.
Area Alabama High School Association teams who have already secured a postseason spot are Dothan and Eufaula in Class 6A, Pike County and Providence Christian in Class 3A, G.W. Long, Ariton, Abbeville and Goshen in Class 2A and Elba in Class 1A.
Alabama Independent Schools Association teams who have postseason dates are Northside Methodist in Class AAA and Lakeside School in AA.
Several teams can clinch a spot with a win this week, including the winner of the Geneva County at Daleville game. The winner earns the fourth and final spot in Class 2A, Region 2.
Also trying to clinch this week are Rehobeth and Charles Henderson in Class 5A, Opp and Geneva in Class 3A and Kinston in Class 1A.
Other teams could also clinch with help from other teams.
Region titles on line: Two area teams can clinch a region title on Friday – Pike County in Class 3A, Region 2 and Ariton in Class 2A, Region 2.
Pike County currently leads 3A, Region 2 with a 5-0 record and needs only one more region win, either Friday against Opp or next week versus Straughn to wrap up the region crown.
Ariton, meanwhile, faces county rival G.W. Long in Skipperville in a battle of 2A, Region 2 leaders at 5-0. Abbeville (4-1) is also still in the region-title race. If Ariton wins Friday, it clinches the region. If Long wins, then next week’s Abbeville-Long game will factor into the equation with either Long winning the crown or the top spot knotted in a three-way tie.
Thursday night football: There is a change in this week’s schedule as Eufaula’s game at Carver of Montgomery was moved to Thursday night. The teams play at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl. Eufaula enters 6-2 overall and 3-1 in region play, while Carver is 4-3 and 1-2.
Finally a region game: After six games and two off weeks, Early County in Georgia finally plays a region game this Friday. The Bobcats (4-2) face Brooks County in a Region 1-AA contest at Standifer Field in Blakely.
Henderson ties state record: Geneva County sophomore Emmanuel Henderson tied an AHSAA state record last Friday with his sixth kickoff return for a touchdown of the season, an 82-yard return for a score against Cottonwood. The six kickoff returns for touchdowns ties the state mark that was set just last year by Elba’s Richmon Singletary.
For the season, Henderson has returned 15 kickoffs for 649 yards.
Including his kickoff return, Henderson scored four different ways in last week’s 34-14 win over Cottonwood. He scored on runs of 58 and 44 yards, a touchdown catch of 48 yards and an interception return of 92 yards in addition to the kick return.
For the night, Henderson compiled 353 all-purpose yards and five TDs. His kick return achievements and his all-around performance landed up a runner-up accolade in the AHSAA Special Teams Prep Spotlight to Mountain Brook’s two-point victory “heave” pass over Hewitt Trussville.
Jeter also in special teams spotlight: Providence Christian kicker John Jeter was also in the AHSAA Prep Spotlight for special teams after kicking two field goals, including a go-ahead 41-yarder with 2:14 left in the Eagles’ 13-10 win over Opp. He also had a 30-yard field goal with two seconds left in the first half.
Six honored on offense: Six area players were honored in the AHSAA Offensive Prep Spotlight – Geneva teammates Kahari McReynolds and Damion Kemmerlin, Daleville’s Jalen White, Headland’s Tyler Danzey, Eufaula’s Hess Horne and G.W. Long’s Carson Dunlap.
Geneva’s McReynolds accounted for 281 yards rushing and receiving and four scores in the Panthers' 34-27 comeback win over Houston Academy. He had 50-yard TD reception and rushing touchdowns of 50 yards and 1 yard in fourth quarter to help Geneva overcome a 27-14 deficit. He rushed for 140 yards on 13 carries and had 141 reception yards on six catches.
Kemmerlin totaled 280 yards passing and running and accounted for three touchdowns in the Panthers’ come-from-behind win. He was 11-of-13 passing for 187 yards and two touchdowns and had 10 rushes for 93 yards and a 50-yard TD run.
Daleville’s White had 29 rush attempts for 230 yards and one TD in a 32-7 loss to Abbeville. He also had an interception on defense.
Headland’s Danzey rushed for 151 yards and four touchdowns, passed for another TD and scored on two-point conversion in a 50-28 Rams win over Ashford. He also had six tackles and an interception on defense.
Eufaula’s Horne completed 10-of-14 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers' 48-0 win over Russell County.
G.W. Long’s Dunlap was 6-of-9 passing for 218 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Rebels over Houston County 49-7. His TD completions covered 22, 54, 43 and 48 yards.
11 defensive standouts: Eleven area players were in the AHSAA Prep Defensive spotlight for play last week.
They were Geneva’s Dylan Creech, Headland’s Wilson Turner, Cottonwood’s Micah Lewis, Providence Christian’s Grayson Stewart, Charles Henderson’s J.B. Sanders, Ariton’s Zack Phillips, Opp’s Thomas Glisson and Brady James and Wicksburg’s Zeke Kelley, Reese Martin and Dustin Woodham.
Geneva’s Creech had 12 tackles, including five for losses, and forced and recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter to set up a touchdown in Geneva's 34-27 comeback win over Houston Academy. He also rushed for 62 yards on 14 carries on offense.
Headland’s Turner had 15 tackles, including a sack, as the Rams thumped Ashford 50-28.
Cottonwood’s Lewis recorded 13 tackles in a 34-14 loss to Geneva County.
Providence Christian’s Stewart totaled 11 tackles with a sack and also recovered a fumble caused by teammate Cole Smith in the final minute to preserve a 13-10 Class 3A, Region 2 win over Opp.
Charles Henderson’s Sanders had 13 tackles in the Trojans’ 28-18 Class 5A win over Carroll.
Ariton’s Phillips had 12 tackles and had a team-high 75 yards rushing (among 12 Ariton rushers) in a 61-6 win over Barbour County.
Opp’s Glisson and James both had 12 tackles in the Bobcats’ 13-10 loss to Providence Christian.
Wicksburg’s Kelley had 13 tackles and Martin and Woodham 12 each in the Panthers’ 20-7 win over Straughn. Martin and Kelley accounted for the Wicksburg touchdowns on offense with Martin rushing for two and Kelley one.