— Friday, September 13
GAME OF THE WEEK
Athens (2-0) at Hartselle (2-0)
7 p.m. J.P. Cain Stadium
Why it’s important: The shuffle for playoff positioning in 5A Region 8 begins tonight in Hartselle as a pair of undefeated teams mix it up in this heated rivalry. Although still early in the season, the winner of this game will effectively stake a major claim to one of the four playoff spots in the region. For Athens, the Golden Eagles will find out if they are for real against a team that has won seven straight in the series. The teams are dead even through 60 games in the series dating back to 1929.
Preview: These teams have faced similar schedules so far this season with each team beating a capable 6A opponent while burying region cellar-dwellers last week. Despite putting up big numbers last week, both teams could rely on their defenses in this early-season tilt.
Series history: The series is tied 29-29 with two ties.
Last year: Hartselle won 23-7
News Courier prediction: Athens 8, Hartselle 7
North Jackson (0-2) at Ardmore (2-0)
7 p.m., Cooper Field
Preview: This one will be interesting. Normally a perennial power in Class 4A, North Jackson visits Ardmore tonight off the heels of two heavy defeats. The Chiefs were blasted in the opening week 46-0 by Fort Payne followed by a 28-7 region defeat against Madison County last week. Ardmore has gone about its business in two wins this season, quietly jumping out to a 2-0 start. Could this be the year Ardmore beats North Jackson? A win would be one of the biggest in program history.
Series history: North Jackson leads 5-0
Last Year: North Jackson won 42-14
News Courier Prediction: North Jackson 28, Ardmore 24
Madison Academy (2-0) at Clements (1-1)
7 p.m., M.T. Newman Stadium
Preview: What a win for Clements last week. The Colts snapped the program’s longest losing streak in a dramatic 34-32 win over West Morgan. That win will do so much for the Colts’ confidence, but it might not matter this week against what is probably the top team in the state outside of 5A-6A. The Mustangs beat the defending 2A champions, Tanner, and 3A semifinalist Lauderdale County by an average of 41 points their opening two wins.