Brandon Miller's five storylines to watch Friday night
by Brandon Miller
Nov 20, 2013 | 890 views |  0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Head coach Jonathan Miller and his Saks football team faces another long trip North on Friday. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Head coach Jonathan Miller and his Saks football team faces another long trip North on Friday. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Does Clay Central get revenge?

The Volunteers have lost four games in school history, and this Friday night, they have a chance to avenge a loss from last year.

After Clay Central fell to Class 3A state champion Madison Academy in Week 10 during the 2012 season, it went down to Troy to face Charles Henderson on a cold Thursday night two weeks later. The Volunteers played their worst game of the season, falling 13-0.

Two turnovers deep in their own territory by the Vols gave Charles Henderson easy scores.

Charles Henderson enters the game as the top-ranked team in Class 4A, while Clay Central sits at No. 8. There’s little doubt the Volunteers will have to play a flawless game to win, but Clay Central is fresh off a dominant 23-6 win over Bibb County, which makes the upset seem a little more possible.

Will Munford face adversity?

Before last week’s 26-16 win over Guntersville, it had been nearly two months since Munford had been challenged. Following a 30-14 loss to Clay Central in Week 5, the Lions have beaten their next seven opponents by an average of 26.3 points a game.

But Munford may get a challenge this week.

Seventh-ranked J.O. Johnson enters Friday night with back-to-back blowout, playoff wins, including a 49-16 pounding of Lincoln in the first round. Despite J.O. Johnson scoring at least 39 points in each of its last eight games, the Jaguars’ defense is even better, holding all but one opponent to 14 points or less.

Can Piedmont slow down the defending 3A state champion?

Piedmont will have its hands full on Friday when it hosts Madison Academy.

The Bulldogs were able to rally to defeat Deshler last week, but Madison Academy brings the biggest threat a team will find in Class 3A.

Madison Academy hasn’t lost a game since Sept. 28, 2012 — a 42-21 loss to Class 5A Cullman. The Mustangs haven’t lost to a 3A team since the 2011 state championship game, which Handley won 20-14.

This fall, 4A Clay Central is the only team that has tested Madison Academy — the Mustangs won the Week 10 battle 14-7. But in the postseason, it’s been back to business for Madison Academy.

At the same time, it’s never wise to count out Piedmont.

Madison Academy may have more talent, but the Bulldogs have good, smart players and coaches, and this game may surprise some people.

Can Cleburne County win its toughest test?

Cleburne County has battled and battled this season, and they’ll need that fight and more Friday in a 4A matchup.

This week’s opponent, Oneonta, lived up to its billing in the last round, beating Jacksonville 56-7. But the Redskins have been winning like that for a while. Since losing to Class 5A Pinson Valley and narrowly defeating Guntersville during the first two weeks of the season, Oneonta has blown everyone out of the water.

But let’s not discredit Cleburne County.

The Tigers are about as gritty a team as you will find, and that has shown in the last three wins. Cleburne County had to beat Lincoln to make the playoffs, then had to beat Madison County and Central-Florence to stay alive.

If Cleburne County can keep Friday’s game close, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Tigers pull out another big win.

At the same time, Oneonta isn’t a fan of allowing opponents to keep games close.

Can Saks handle traveling North as well the second time?

Blame the bracket, matchups or anything you would like, but Saks is headed back to the Florence area for the second straight week.

Making a multiple-hour trip can give a team a mental disadvantage right off the bat, and last week Wildcats coach Jonathan Miller made three stops on the way to Lauderdale County. He said he’ll do the same this week when Saks goes to Colbert County this week.

Saks didn’t struggle at all to open the second-round game, taking a two-touchdown lead before Lauderdale County had taken an offensive snap.

Lauderdale County scored the next 21 points, however, and led heading into the fourth quarter before Saks got it together and won 36-21. To put it simply — that can’t happen against Colbert County.

Blame the 21-point swing on lack of execution, a mental fallout or anything you would like, but Saks needs to play better this week if it wants to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1996.
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