The playoff chase commences this week for AHSAA football teams in the Dothan Eagle coverage area.
That’s because region play begins for 27 of the 29 local teams in the Alabama High School Athletic Association. The other two teams have the week off.
Among the top games are Enterprise visiting 10th-ranked Auburn in a Class 7A, Region 2 game, Dothan hosting Eufaula in Class 6A, Region 2, Class 3A No. 6 Providence Christian traveling to Geneva in a 3A, 2 game and Ariton and Geneva County meeting in Hartford in 2A, 2 action.
All four local Alabama Independent Schools Association (AISA) teams, meanwhile, have non-region games this week as does one of the two Georgia coverage teams (Early County).
Off week: Carroll and Ashford both drew a week off. Both are part of a seven-team region where each week one team has a bye from region play because of the odd number of teams. Neither Carroll nor Ashford filled the date with a non-region contest.
Bobcats roll: Defense powered Early County in a 24-0 shutout over Miller County last week. In addition to earning its fourth shutout in the last 11 games, the defense scored twice and forced four turnovers.
Tyrell Rainey had two interceptions and was in on six tackles, four unassisted. Brian Hanks returned a fumble 30 yards for a TD and had six assisted tackles and one solo. Jay Ealey had seven assisted tackles, a solo stop and an interception. Rodriguez Davis and Jaquez Farrior had six assisted tackles each and James Gilbert had seven assisted tackles and one solo stop.
Offensively, Ladarius Ceasar rushed for 91 yards on 10 carries and Jakirrin Davis rushed for 67 on 10 tries, including a 1-yard TD run. Alex Warr had a 20-yard field goal and converted all three point after kicks.
One successful debut: Of the eight new head coaches in the area this year, only one won his debut – Desmond Lett at Daleville. Lett’s Warhawks defeated Elba 38-28 in Daleville’s opener on Aug. 23.
The other seven new coaches lost their first game, including Enterprise’s Rick Darlington and Dothan’s Smitty Grider, who both have since picked up their first wins with their programs. Darlington’s Wildcats lost to North Miami Beach (Fla.) 34-31 in the opening week before winning 50-22 last week over Charles Henderson. Grider’s Wolves lost to Clay-Chalkville 37-14 in the first week before winning last week over Wetumpka, 54-41.
The other head coaches who lost debuts with their teams are Barbour County’s Chad Martin (54-0 to Central Hayneville), New Brockton’s Zack Holmes (42-13 to Providence Christian), Kinston’s Rudy Free (14-10 to Samson), Lakeside’s Josh McConnell (35-0 to Glenwood) and Seminole County’s Trey Woolf (47-7 to Bainbridge, Ga.).
Fourteen honored by AHSAA: Fourteen Wiregrass players were honored in the AHSAA Prep Spotlight this week for play last week.
Three were honored on defense – Geneva’s Dylan Creech, Dothan’s Jaylan Faison and Headland’s Will Turner. Five were honored in rushing – Daleville’s Jalen White, Geneva’s McReynolds, Slocomb’s Jaylen Nobles, Dothan’s Jalen White and Headland’s Tyler Danzey.
Four were cited for play at quarterback – Eufaula’s Hess Horne, Opp’s Hal Smithart, Dothan’s Jamal Lane and Abbeville’s Martavious Glanton. Eufaula’s Devin Fuller was honored at wide receiver and Geneva County’s Emmanuel Henderson on special teams.
Geneva’s Creech recorded 18 tackles, three for losses, including a key stop short of a first down on third-and-3 at the 18 in the final minute of a 34-26 win over Geneva County. Creech also rushed for 137 yards on 14 carries, including a 56-yard TD run.
Dothan’s Faison recorded 10 tackles and an interception as the Wolves downed Wetumpka 54-41.
Headland’s Turner had 13 tackles in the Rams’ 36-34 win over Highland Home.
Daleville’s White rushed for 309 yards with five touchdowns on 17 carries and added a sixth touchdown on a fumble recovery in a 58-41 win over Wicksburg. He also recorded 12 tackles, four for losses, and had an interception on defense.
Geneva’s McReynolds rushed for 289 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries and added an interception and nine tackles on defense, including a touchdown-saving stop on a punt return, in the Panthers' 34-26 win over Geneva County. He had TD runs of 29, 10, 15 and 3 yards, scored on two 2-point conversions and had nine of his 22 carries go for 15 or more yards.
Slocomb’s Nobles rushed for 217 yards on just 11 carries with four touchdowns and had a 50-yard interception return on defense to set up a score in the Red Tops' 48-14 win over Cottonwood. His TD runs were from 26, 20, 69 and 64 yards. He also completed one pass for 30 yards.
Dothan’s White rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries in the Wolves' 54-41 win over Wetumpka.
Headland’s Danzey rushed for four touchdowns and scored a two-point conversion in the Rams' 36-34 win over Highland Home. He rushed for 105 yards on 18 carries with TD runs of 18, 15, 6 and 7 yards and also returned three kicks for 104 yards.
Eufaula’s Horne was 13-of-15 passing for 328 yards and three touchdowns – all in the first half – in the Tigers’ 63-19 win over Beauregard.
Opp’s Smithart was 19-of-31 passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-34 loss to Elba.
Dothan’s Lane led the Wolves to their first victory as a program with 255 totals yards and three touchdowns in a 54-41 win over Wetumpka. He was 10-of-21 passing for 219 yards and three TDs and rushed for 36 yards on 10 carries.
Abbeville’s Glanton passed for 139 yards, rushed for 109 and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 10-yard run in the second overtime as Abbeville beat Ashford 34-28. He accounted for three TDs, adding a 53-yard touchdown run and a 30-yard TD pass to Gabriel Shell.
Eufaula’s Fuller caught five passes for 122 yards and also rushed for three touchdowns (1, 10, 35 yards) on just three carries in Eufaula's 63-19 win over Beauregard.
Geneva County’s Henderson accounted for 298 combined yards in rushing and kick/punt returns and had three touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 34-26 loss to Geneva. He had 144 yards and TD runs of 49 and 4 yards rushing and had kick returns of 66 and 44 yards and a punt return of 38 yards. The 66-yarder was returned for a TD.