By Jonathan Deal
Friday, September 27
*All games at 7 p.m.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Elkmont (2-2, 2-1) at West Limestone (2-2, 1-2)
James Kennemer Stadium, Salem
Why it’s important: Separated by less than 10 miles as the crow flies, these Limestone County rivals meet for the 58th time Friday night in Salem. Outside of West Limestone’s decisive 41-14 victory last year and a triple OT win two years ago, the rivalry recently has been dominated by Elkmont. The Red Devils have won six of the last eight dating back to 2005. After losing to Ardmore in the season-opener, Elkmont will be eager to prove it’s still competitive in the Limestone County pecking order.
Preview: Both teams bring plenty of momentum into Friday’s game with decisive region victories last week. West Limestone scored 35 unanswered in Caddo to pull away from East Lawrence. The win snapped a two-game losing streak to the region’s top two teams. Elkmont is on a roll after two convincing wins in back-to-back weeks, including last week’s 35-21 victory on the road at West Morgan.
Last year: West won 41-14.
Series history: West leads 40-17 with one tie.
News Courier prediction: West Limestone 27, Elkmont 14
Clements (1-3, 1-2) at Ardmore (4-0, 3-0)
Cooper Field, Ardmore
Preview: What a two-week stretch for Clements. The Colts will limp into Ardmore after two blowout losses to two of the best teams in 3A. Ardmore, meanwhile, is off to its best start in more than four decades. The Tigers are trying to get to 5-0 overall and 2-0 against county rivals. New Ardmore head coach Clint Legg is facing his alma mater, which adds an extra dimension to this nonregion game.
Last year: Ardmore won 16-6.
Series history: Ardmore leads 21-18 with one tie.
News Courier prediction: Ardmore 34, Clements 6
Athens (2-2, 1-2) at Austin (1-3, 1-2)
Ogle Stadium, Decatur
Preview: Can Athens regain its early-season form? The Golden Eagles looked to be off to their best start in years before stumbling at Hartselle and getting steamrolled by Muscle Shoals. AHS steps out of region play and travels to Decatur to play an Austin team that picked up its first win on a last second field goal at Sparkman last week. The first quarter in this game is more important than ever for Athens. AHS needs something good to happen early.
Last year: Austin won 34-0.
Series history: Athens leads 21-12 with one tie.
News Courier prediction: Athens 24, Austin 17
East Limestone (1-3, 1-2) at James Clemens (2-2, 1-2)
Madison City Stadium, Madison
Preview: This is not the same James Clemens team East Limestone beat up on 41-14 last season. Winless in its first season as a program, James Clemens has already won two games this season, including a 14-6 victory over a good J.O. Johnson team. James Clemens has more talent, is more experienced and is playing with much more confidence than last year. East Limestone is a couple of plays from being 3-1 instead of 1-3. This should be another close game, which could give East the advantage, and it might come down to a couple of plays in the fourth quarter.
Last year: East won 41-14.
Series history: East leads 1-0.
News Courier prediction: James Clemens 31, East Limestone 28
R.A. Hubbard (3-1, 3-0) at Tanner (3-1, 3-0)
Rip Swanner Field, Tanner
Preview: Tanner is finally Tanner again after burying region opponents over the past three weeks. The Rattlers appear to have put that season-opening loss behind them and are back to scoring points and sacking quarterbacks. Hubbard enters this game with plenty of momentum after winning its last three. But the Chiefs will soon learn: Hackleburg is no Tanner. Laron White will have added motivation facing his alma mater.
Last year: Tanner won 48-0.
Series history: R.A. Hubbard (Courtland) leads 10-9
News Courier prediction: Tanner 35, R.A. Hubbard 12