Friday, Oct. 18
All games at 7 p.m.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Athens (5-2, 3-2) at Cullman (6-1, 5-0)
Woodard Stadium, Cullman
Why it’s important: Athens controls its own destiny in the 5A Region 8 playoff picture. The Golden Eagles know they’re in the playoffs, but where they finish is yet to be determined. A loss to Muscle Shoals (7-0, 5-0) in week 4 means Athens can’t finish first, but a home-field first-round playoff game is still possible if AHS wins Friday at Cullman.
A win would force a three-way tie for second place with Hartselle. Athens would have an above-average chance of winning that tiebreaker based on its non-region wins so far this season.
Preview: All those theories aren’t worth talking about unless Athens can beat Cullman Friday. Only one team — 3A No. 1 Madison Academy — has been able to do that this season. Cullman has impressive wins over Walker (5-2) and Hartselle (5-2), but have the Bearcats faced a defense like Athens? The Golden Eagles’ D is at its best playing against spread offenses like Cullman’s. Expect a low scoring game. The team with the fewest mistakes will leave with a “W.” Athens has not played in Cullman since 2004.
Series history: Cullman lead 30-17 with one tie.
Last year: Cullman won 41-14.
News Courier prediction: Cullman 14, Athens 13
Madison County (5-2, 4-1) at Ardmore (6-1, 4-1)
Cooper Field, Ardmore
Preview: Ardmore is another team that can improve its playoff positioning Friday with a win. But a victory won’t come easy against a Madison County team that beat D.A.R. (4-3, 3-2) 49-0 last week. With Johnson already beating both teams, the winner of this game can lock up second place in the region and a first-round playoff game.
Series history: Madison County leads 8-5.
Last year: Madison County won 75-14.
News Courier prediction: Madison County 27, Ardmore 14
West Limestone (5-2, 3-2) at Priceville (4-3, 2-3)
Priceville High School Stadium, Priceville