5 Birmingham area high school football games to watch in week 1
Here are five games to watch in the Birmingham area this week with the full schedule to follow.
MADISON ACADEMY AT BRIARWOOD CHRISTIAN
Time / place: Friday 7 p.m., Lions Pride Stadium, Birmingham
Last year: Madison Academy (10-1) fell to Northside in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs and Briarwood Christian (8-3) lost to Oxford in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. The teams have each won two matches in the series, last played in 2017.
The lean: Madison Academy, third in Class 4A, has plenty of returning talent from across the states, including 3-star LB / WR Tim Spurlock, TE / LB Kanen Hamlett and OL Kaden Young, all senior. RB / DB Will Stokes is another senior who produces in all aspects of the offense. WR / DB Jailen Holmes is a senior playmaker on both sides of the ball.
Briarwood has an incredible streak of 28 straight playoff appearances. The Lions offense will rely heavily on senior RB Luke Reebals, who ran for 1,149 yards (2,031 all-purpose yards) last season, as well as 3-star junior QB Christopher Vizzina, who tallied 150 on 246 passes for 1,969 yards and 13 touchdowns. Senior Ethan Adams is WR’s best target. A trio of seniors leads the defense. Miller Stubblefield at DE and LB Haddon Stubbs are tough on the top seven while DB Seth Alford manages the back.
PINSON VALLEY IN HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE
Time / place: 7 p.m. Friday, Hewitt-Trussville Stadium, Trussville
Last year: Class 7A Hewitt-Trussville (9-3) lost to champion Thompson in the second round of the playoffs while Pinson Valley (12-2) won the class 6A championship. Hewitt-Trussville leads the series 24-7 and won last year’s game 44-19.
The lean: Pinson Valley, ranked among the best in class 6A, lost both coordinators and 15 starters, but came back with great skill in attack with the 3-star commitment Baylor QB Zach Pyron, senior RB Mike Sharpe, senior WR Taborie Reed and the 3-star engagement Vandy TE BJ Diakite. Seniors Cameron Ambrose and Joel Brown as well as juniors Carson Moore return to OL. Nine lost starters came in defense, but part of that need was met by transfers including junior DB TJ Metcalf from Spain Park and junior DL Connor Knight from Hewitt-Trussville. Returning starter Diakite will double at DE and junior Zach McCray returns to DB.
Hewitt-Trussville senior quarterback Cade Ott Carruth, fourth in Class 7A, has several receiving targets, including WR / ATH senior 4-star Omari Kelly. Other WRs include senior Jordan McCants, who transferred from Pinson Valley, while senior Cayson Zackary and Ryan Shoop return. Alabama’s baseball commitment, Riley Quick, as well as seniors Maverick McIntyre and Ryan Gunter are solid at OL. Senior 4 Star Rookie Judge Finkley anchors the DL with Hunter Osborne Junior 3 Star. MLB senior Jamarion White and DB Connor Thomas are returning starters for several years while senior DB KJ Jackson also started last season.
THOMPSON AT OXFORD
Time / place: 7 p.m. Friday, Lamar Field, Oxford
Last year: Thompson (14-0) won their second straight Class 7A title while Oxford (11-2) lost to champion Pinson Valley in the third round of the playoffs. Thompson has won the previous two meetings, including 56-34 last season.
The lean: Thompson, the top of Class 7A, is leading an 18-game winning streak and has the talent to complete his second straight season unbeaten. Offensive class back of the year and North Carolina entry Conner Harrell returns to quarterback (3,568 passing yards and 32 touchdowns) with Western Kentucky WR entry Ryan Peppins (1,188 yards by reception). Other WR targets include senior transfers from Spain Park, Jaylen Ward, a 3-star prospect, and David Moultry. Senior RB Brandon Franklin was injured much of last season and senior RB Justin Pegues is another talented transfer from Spain Park. OL is led by seniors Cole Hall and Parker Mitchell. The defense is even more impressive with the state’s top player and Alabama committing Jeremiah Alexander to DL, 4-star Miami DB as Tre’Quon Fegans, 3-star DB Trevor Hardy and North Texas committing Jax Van Zandt . Also impressive are 4-star junior rookies Tony Mitchell at DB and Peter Woods at DL.
Former Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa coach Sam Adams takes over at Oxford, which lost many starters and stars last season. The Yellow Jackets will depend on second RB Jaydon Thomas in attack and junior WR Emari Carroll. Senior Kyle Pilkington is OL’s bell cow. Seniors Miguel Mitchell at DB / WR and Jordan Dobbins at DB / RB as well as junior Josiah Kimbrough at DL lead the defense.
VESTAVIA HILLS AT MOUNTAIN BROOK
Time / place: 7 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Mountain Brook
Last year: Vestavia Hills (4-6) failed to advance to the Class 7A playoffs while Mountain Brook (12-2) lost to Class 6A champion Pinson Valley in the semifinals. Vestavia Hills was forced to forfeit last year’s game due to Covid-19 and leads the series 29-26.
The lean: It’s a year of something new for Vestavia Hills, who are playing football for the first time in 43 years without coach Buddy Anderson. Sean Calhoun takes the reins and makes changes with him, especially on the offensive. Mitchell Towns is the QB’s likely starter in the new offense with WR Cole Turner and RB Bryant Agee both returning starters while WR Keown Richardson is also expected to be important. OL are anchored by returning holders Hoke Smith, Jack Dawsey and Hill Stokes. Max Neuroth, Lane Whisenhunt and Andrew Sykes manage the defensive front while Trey Saunders is the first LB and Jackson Ayers is strong at DB.
Mountain Brook, ranked eighth in Class 6A, lost more than 40 seniors last season, but the closet is far from empty. The defense, still a staple under coach Chris Yeager, will be led by senior John McMillan and junior Trent Wright, the team’s top tacklers at LB. Quinn Thomas and Gray Doster will be strong on the top seven while Jones Beavers and Mac McCowan will lead in DB. John Colvin takes over at QB with top targets WR Jake Thompson, Sims Brown and Jackson Beatty. Cole Gamble aligns with RB and Wider Hines anchors OL.
HOOVER VS. NORTH GWINNETT (GA.)
Time / place: 4:45 p.m. Saturday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Last year: Hoover (11-2) lost to champion Thompson in the Class 7A playoff semifinals while North Gwinnett (8-4) lost in the second round of the Georgia Class 7A playoffs. This is the first meeting between the two teams.
The lean: Hoover is the first out-of-state team to compete in the 30th Corky Kell Classic. Spain Park senior quarterback Bennett Meredith is a 3-star rookie who tallied 3,106 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. Junior WR RJ Hamilton has 53 passes for 1,063 yards and Cotton Peters will be leaning on the defenses while Jabari Gaines is solid at TE and Ahmari Williams is a load at RB. The top seven are strong with 3-star entry from Coastal Carolina Markus Clark, 3-star Terrell Jones, Josh Carter, Andrew Parrish and Kaleb Jackson. 4-star junior rookie Dale Miller is playing a fierce defense in BC and Jay Avery is strong in security.
North Gwinnett has failed to win his region for the first time in coach Bill Stewart’s tenure since joining in 2017. Defense is the strength of the team with a pair of 4-star junior rookies in the seven. first. DL Kayden McDonald and LB Grant Godfrey are stout while Kenan Holmes returns to DB. Ethan Washington split time at QB last season. Race leader Marcus McFarlane returns while Brinston Willams and Ethan Washington have also spent time at RB.
BIRMINGHAM REGION SCHEDULE
(All games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise specified)
Winterboro at Vincent
Woodlawn in Jackson-Olin
American Christian at Parker
Ashville to Oak Grove
Banks Academy at Pickens Academy
City of Bessemer to Ramsay
Carver-Birmingham at BT Washington
Dallas County to Helena
Demopolis in Calera
Fultondale at John Carroll
Gardendale in Sparkman
Glenwood at Bessemer Academy
Homewood in Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa
Hooper Academy at Coosa Valley Academy
Huffman at Benjamin Russell
Huntsville at the park of Spain
Madison Academy at Briarwood Christian
Marbury to Montevallo
Minor in Hueytown
Mortimer Jordan in Pelham
Oak Mountain in Chelsea
Pinson Valley in Hewitt-Trussville
Shades Valley in Clay-Chalkville
Shelby County to Holtville
Southern Academy at Cornerstone Christian
Parc d’Espagne in Huntsville
Saint-Paul to McAdory
Sylacauga to Leeds
Thompson in Oxford
Vestavia Hills in Mountain Brook
Wenonah at the central point
North Gwinnett (Ga.) Vs. Hoover
(Corky Kell Classic, Atlanta, 4:45 p.m.)