NICK JOHNSTON: Pressure builds for area teams in Round 2


Southside's Dantley Coker celebrates a touchdown against Wenonah on Friday. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times | File)


COMMENTARY

Knowing football season’s end is just one loss away, area teams prepare for Friday night’s second round of the state playoffs under immense pressure with one goal — a state championship.

Two Etowah County teams remain alive for the dream, as Class 5A, No. 4 Southside hosts Cullman and Glencoe hosts 3A, No. 8 Colbert County.

Southside, undefeated at 11-0, looks to reach the third round of the postseason for the first time since 1980. The Panthers are coming off a 30-14 first-round win over Wenonah in which they were able to wear down the visiting Dragons in the second half behind a brutal rushing attack. And that’s the thing about Southside: Cullman knows what’s coming, it’s just a matter of trying to stop it.

No team’s been able to yet, as Dantley Coker topped the 2,000-yard rushing mark last week, while speedsters Blake Devine and Holt Keeling give the Panthers a solid change of pace around the ends. And it goes without saying, but Coker’s success along with every other back on the team is because of strong offensive line play. Cullman (7-3) should be ready for the challenge, as it boasts plenty of size on both sides of the ball and comes into the game having navigated tough Region 8 for the No. 2 spot.

It’s going to be close — and I really can see how either team comes out with a win — but I think the Panthers’ rushing attack will get the job done. Southside 24, Cullman 21.

As for Glencoe, the Yellow Jackets have been playing their best ball the last few weeks. Coach Lee Ozmint really likes how his team is approaching each game and, more importantly, the players believe they can beat anyone ahead. The Yellow Jackets (8-3) are winners of five straight and seven of eight after a 1-2 start, so they are full of confidence right now.

Colbert County (10-1) has plenty of talent, too, and it’s tough to pick against a team that is outscoring its opponents 36-10 on average.

However, I’m picking the upset and giving the Yellow Jackets the nod 30-28.

No. 5 Piedmont (10-1) will be looking to exorcise some demons against Deshler. Deshler sent shockwaves through the state when it upset top-ranked Piedmont in the second round last year, and the Bulldogs want revenge. They should get it, too. Bulldogs 45, Tigers 20.

Fyffe, Class 2A’s fourth-ranked team, has an interesting matchup with Walter Wellborn on Friday night. The teams met in Week 5 of the regular season, with the Red Devils (10-1) coming out on top 34-6. I see the Red Devils cruising again. Fyffe 31, Walter Wellborn 12.


Times Sports Writer Nick Johnston can be reached at nick.johnston@gadsdentimes.com.