NICK JOHNSTON: Panthers, Eagles highlight Week 1 games


Hokes Bluff’s Brad Robertson throws against Southside during last year’s game in Hokes Bluff. Robertson and the Eagles open the season at Barney Hood Stadium in Southside tonight. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)


COMMENTARY

Week 1 of the high school football season kicks off with a bang tonight, as the Southside Panthers host the Hokes Bluff Eagles in The Gadsden Times’ Game of the Week.

These teams met in the final week of the season in 2011 season, with Southside claiming a 13-11 win, and all indications are Thursday night’s contest will be similar.

The Panthers and Eagles appear evenly matched. Both have quarterbacks similar in size and ability in Hokes Bluff’s Brad Robertson and Southside’s Patrick Lister. Both teams like to run the ball, and both head coaches — Hokes Bluff’s Mike Robertson and Southside’s Marty Smith — want their teams to be solid on defense. Even the teams’ respective offensive and defensive lines are similar and should be strengths. I’m giving a slight edge to Southside, and a lot of it has to do with the Panthers playing at home. Southside wins 21-20.

Four other Etowah County teams open the 2012 season tonight. Etowah hosts Alexandria and West End hosts Susan Moore, while Coosa Christian travels to Collinsville and Sardis visits Sylvania.

Etowah coach Sam McCorkle is having to replace a lot of talent, including a starting quarterback and a star wide receiver, for the defending Class 5A, Region 7 champions.  Alexandria brings a tradition of good football to the field. The Valley Cubs win 24-14.

A new, and yet familiar, coach begins a new era with West End tonight, as Randy Hallmark, who coached for West End in the 1990s, returns to the helm of the Patriots. The Patriots are starting off the season with a solid Class 3A opponent. Susan Moore wins 35-21.

Coosa Christian finds tough sledding at Collinsville, and the back-to-back region champion Panthers win 50-12.

Gadsden City travels to Florence on Friday night. The Titans return a lot of talent, but will run up against a Florence team that also has a lot of talent. Jamey Dubose is the Falcons’ coach after a very successful run at Prattville. I think the Titans have something for Dubose and the Falcons, but it will be close. Gadsden City 21, Florence 17.

In other games Thursday: Guntersville 30, Boaz 20; Cedar Bluff 35, Gaylesville 12; North Jackson 32, Fort Payne 28; Sardis 28, Sylvania 20.

In other games Friday: Albertville 27, Arab 20; Springville 20, Ashville 13; Piedmont 34, Cherokee County 20; Plainview 40, Crossville 6; Douglas 12, DAR 6; Fyffe 21, Geraldine 20; Randolph County 24, Gaston 13; Glencoe 27, Westbrook 13; Sand Rock 26, Pisgah 13; Spring Garden 27, Fayetteville 20.

 

Times sports writer Nick Johnston can be reached at nick.johnston@gadsdentimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @GT_NickJohnston.