Mark Clark: Great games ahead in 2018 season for local teams

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Boy, I love it. High school football season is finally here. There is no better sport in this great country of ours – or this community we live in. Every local team will be on the field this weekend – Central will be in Atlanta in the CN1 Alabama vs. Georgia Showcase to face Mays High on Saturday evening at Lakewood Stadium. Glenwood will be on the road in Eufaula to face Lakeside Academy on Friday. And the other two area teams – Russell County and Smiths Station – will tangle with each other in Smiths Station on T.C. Britton Field at Panther Stadium on Friday. It is a full slate for the first time this new season.

Glenwood actually kicked off the season last weekend with a Saturday night contest against Monroe Academy at Huntingdon College in Montgomery. The Gators took a tough one to the chinstrap in a 34-7 loss.

I cannot say enough about how much high school football excites this community. We all seem to love discussing it. In fact, we spend about nine months a year discussing the previous season whether the season was a good one or a bad one. Then we get to watch the sport for about three months and start over again. Yeah, I know we have other sports than football that are just as important to the athletes who participate in them, but spectator-wise, football is the big “dawg” on the block.

That is why we begin to get excited about the upcoming season each year when the high school magazines start hitting the news stands. We get more excited when the preseason polls come out. Then there is the week of the first full slate of games – this week – when we start making plans to attend games in our largest numbers. Yeah, us!

Central was ranked third in the preseason poll of Class 7A teams by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Glenwood was ranked sixth. Russell County and Smiths Station were ignored by the sports writers in that poll.

Central is not the only team to get votes in the Class 7A poll that is in Region 2. Auburn is ranked at No. 7. R.E. Lee-Montgomery, Jeff Davis and Enterprise each received votes, but did not make the Top 10.

Central plays all of those Region 2 teams plus Class 6A’s No. 6 team – Opelika. Park Crossing, another team Central will face in the first half of 2018, received votes in the Class 6A poll and went 10-2 last season. This Saturday, Central faces the No. 5 team in Class AAAAAA in Georgia – Mays. Next week, it takes on Meridian, Miss., a team that went to the semifinals in Class 6A last season in its state.

Glenwood plays No. 10 in the AISA poll this week – Lakeside. They lost to No. 4 ranked Monroe last week. Before the season is over, the Gators will play No. 1 Autauga Academy, No. 2 Tuscaloosa Academy and No. 5 Bessemer Academy. So that’s half the Top 10 the Gators will play this season.

Russell County will play the No. 3 team in Class 5A – Carroll of Ozark – next week on the Warriors’ home field in Seale. Later this season, the Warriors have the No. 10 Class 6A Eufaula Tigers and the Park Crossing Thunderbirds.

Smiths Station, under the direction of its new coach Mike Glisson, will face No.3 Central in the third week of the season and No. 7 Auburn in the eighth week. The Panthers will also play the Region 2 teams that received votes – R.E. Lee-Montgomery, Jeff Davis and Enterprise. And, they will face the No. 10 ranked Class 6A Eufaula Tigers in the final week of the regular season.

I wish all of our local teams could go undefeated, but that is not possible when they have games scheduled involving each other. So, let’s just hope for the best outcomes in each of the games played this season for the local teams.

I mentioned polls earlier that get us excited. Here is another one. released its first Power 25 rankings this week. Central is tied for sixth in the poll with Class 6A Spanish Fort. The teams ahead of Central are No. 1 Hoover, No. 2 Thompson, No. 3 Pinson Valley, No. 4 Hewitt-Trussville and No. 5 McGill-Toolen.

And one more thing, also released a Top 50 list of the best prospects in South part of the state recently. There are seven Red Devils among the Top 50 – 14 percent of the total number of prospects listed. That is the most prospects listed for any school. The players are No. 7 Peter Parrish, No. 13 Ray Thornton, No. 21 Eddie Williams, No. 26 A’Montae Spivey, No. 42 Joseph McKay, No. 44 Javion Cohen and No. 48 Tucker Melton – three seniors, three juniors and a sophomore. No other local players made the list – at least not at this point of the 2018 season. The listing of prospects is subject to change with each game. Here’s to seeing more of our local football players inserted on this list as the year goes along.

Now, go get ready to watch some high school football. It is certainly worth more than the price of admission, no matter the cost.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for 

The Citizen of East Alabama.