The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

November 15, 2013

FEARLESS PREDICTIONS: predicting the second round playoff games

By Jean Cole
jonathan@athensnews-courier.com

ATHENS — Friday, Nov. 15

Both games at 7 p.m.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Pleasant Grove (10-1) at Athens (8-3)

Golden Eagle Stadium, Athens

Preview: Athens returns to Golden Eagle Stadium to host a playoff game for the first time since 2006. A week after filling the visiting stands at Center Point, Athens fans should provide a special atmosphere and a big boost Friday.

Athens will need all the help it can get against a Pleasant Grove team that defeated Etowah (8-3) 40-0 in its first-round playoff game. The Spartans finished the season strong, averaging 53 points over its last three games, including a 48-12 win over 4A No. 6 Bibb County (10-1).

Pleasant Grove is powered by its up-tempo, read-option attack, led by quarterback DeJuan Feagan. The diminutive Feagan (5’9”, 165) took over early in the season after an injury to the Spartans starting quarterback.

Athens has done an admirable job of stopping running games this season, including last week in a 24-22 upset of No. 6 Center Point. Stopping Pleasant Grove’s explosive running game will be the key to Friday’s game.

Athens head coach Allen Creasy is 4-4 in second round playoff games and 3-0 at home in the second round.

Series history: These teams have never met.

News Courier Prediction: Athens 17, Pleasant Grove 13

North Sand Mountain (9-2) at Tanner (9-1)

Rip Swanner Field, Tanner

Preview: Tanner got one of its biggest challenges of the season last week in 41-29 first-round playoff win against Woodland. The Rattlers should face another tough test Friday against a North Sand Mountain team that finished second in 2A Region 7.

The first-round win was Tanner’s closest game of the season. Since losing to 3A No. 1 Madison Academy in the opening week, Tanner has won every game by at least 21 points. North Sand Mountain has played in four games decided by a touchdown or less this season.

The Bison give up 17 points per game and score 26 points on average. Tanner has not been held under 35 points or allowed more than 15 since losing to MA on Aug. 29.

Tanner head coach Laron White has an impressive 20-9 record in the postseason. Under White, Tanner has won 10 of its last 11 playoff games and advanced past the second round four out of the last five seasons.

North Sand Mountain is playing its first second-round playoff game since 1998. The Bison have never advanced past the second round.

Series history: These teams have never met.

News Courier Prediction: Tanner 35, North Sand Mountain 14