Prep notebook: Thomas picks up ASWA, AHSAA honors
by Brandon Miller
bmiller@annistonstar.com
Nov 06, 2013 | 2177 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Oxford's Racean Thomas (6) is an Auburn commitment. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Oxford's Racean Thomas (6) is an Auburn commitment. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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Oxford High tailback Racean Thomas’ eyebrow-raising performance last week against then-No. 10 Spain Park received statewide attention this week.

Thomas was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association offensive player of the week after rushing for 409 yards and five touchdowns on 32 carries in Oxford’s 56-49 win. In addition, Thomas topped the AHSAA Week 10 Prep Spotlight.

Thomas, an Auburn commitment, gets the most respect from Scout.com, which has him as the third best tailback nationally in the 2014 recruiting class.

“Everybody says he is a top five back in the country,” Oxford coach Ryan Herring said after the win. “Right now, there’s no doubt to me, he’s No. 1 in the country.”

Oxford faces Tuscaloosa County on Friday for the Yellow Jackets' first home playoff game since they went to the Class 6A semifinals in 2011.

STRAIN MILESTONE: Woodland coach Larry Strain has been the winningest football coach in school history since 2010, but Friday night, he reached another milestone.

In dramatic fashion, Woodland defeated Cleburne County 21-14 to earn Strain’s 100th career win, all at Woodland.

Strain took over the Bobcats' program in 1999 and has seen extraordinary success. Woodland made it to the state finals in 2004 and 2006, and Strain also led the Bobcats to the quarterfinals the last two seasons.

This week, Woodland will embark on its 10th straight Class 2A postseason trip. The Bobcats face 2012 state champion Tanner on Friday.

WELLBORN'S STREAK: Wellborn will make its 21st trip to the playoffs Friday night. The first came in 1970, and until now, the Panthers never had advanced five straight years.

This was considered a rebuilding season for Wellborn, but the Panthers turned in seven regular-season wins, which ties for second most in Jeff Smith's five years as head coach. Wellborn also tied for the Class 2A, Region 6 championship, although tiebreakers gave the Panthers the No. 3 seed for playoff purposes.

When Smith took over at Wellborn in 2009, the Panthers coming off back-to-back 1-9 seasons. Wellborn finished the 2009 season 4-7 and 2010 season 6-5, having made the first round in both years. Over the last two years, Wellborn has made it to the second round, going 8-4 (2011) and 9-3 (2012).

TOUGH BRACKET: The Class 3A playoff bracket hasn’t been kind to Weaver in recent years. In the past nine years, Weaver has made the field twice, and both times a state runner-up knocked the Bearcats out of the draw.

Weaver drew powerhouse Madison Academy in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, falling 27-26. Madison Academy went on to the state finals.

In 2010, Weaver drew Hamilton, the school the Bearcats face in the first round Friday. Weaver fell 45-7. Hamilton made it to the state finals.

In 2005, Weaver’s last playoff trip before 2010, the Bearcats lost to Cherokee County in the quarterfinals. Cherokee County played in the state finals two weeks later.

The 2005 playoff run was Weaver’s longest in its history. That's the one year the Bearcats won two playoff games.

PIEDMONT HISTORY: Piedmont is entering the Class 3A playoffs as region runner-up for the first time since 2009.

The Bulldogs won the state championship that year.

Piedmont was 0-1 after its first game of that season, a 42-13 loss to Cherokee County. After that, Piedmont played Piedmont football, losing only to Leeds in a game that decided the Region 5 championship.

Piedmont finished the 2011 and 2012 seasons with 10-0 regular seasons, but lost in the quarterfinals and second round, respectively.

Piedmont faces Winfield at home Friday.

Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star

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