Here are five games to watch in the Birmingham area this week.
All games are subject to change due to COVID-19. Please check with home teams for possible crowd restrictions and ticket information.
SPAIN PARK AT HUNTSVILLE
Time/location: 7 p.m. Thursday, Milton Frank Stadium, Huntsville
Last year: Spain Park (4-6) missed the Class 7A playoffs for the second straight season and Huntsville (6-4) also missed the Class 7A playoffs for the second season.
The skinny: Spain Park is 2-0 all-time against the Panthers, but the last win came in 2009. QB Bennett Meredith should step in after 3,100-plus yard passer Harrison Barker is gone to UAB and he’ll have plenty of receivers with the return of Cooper Kelly and Jaylen Ward. The OL will returns most of its starters and Drake Tabor could be a weapon at kicker. The Jags have to shore up a defense that allowed 36.6 points a game last season.
Huntsville returns starting TE and Florida State commit Jackson West, who’ll play some DL. QB Hayes Hedden and RB/WR Carlos Corbin key the offense. DL Vanderbilt commit Tyler Bence and LB Kieran Craig anchor the defense.
HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE AT PINSON VALLEY
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Willie Adams Stadium, Pinson Valley
Last year: Class 7A Hewitt-Trussville (6-4) missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and Pinson Valley (10-3) fell to eventual Class 6A champion Oxford in semifinal play.
The skinny: Third-ranked Hewitt-Trussville has loads of talent. Auburn commit Armoni Goodwin returns at RB after a season-ending injury in 2019 along with Sean Jackson while Omari Kelly leads the receiving corps. The QB battle is between Cade Ott Carruth and Jackson Holland while Riley Quick anchors the OL. On defense, 4-star recruit Justice Finkley will be tough to block on the DL while Michael Edwards leads at LB and Trey Washington and KJ Jackson star in the secondary.
Third-ranked Pinson Valley brings back the state’s No. 1 recruit in Ga’Quincy McKinstry, but the key could be how the team reacts to a new coaching staff. Longtime assistant Sam Shade takes over for Patrick Nix, who guided the Indians to championships in 2017 and 2018. QB Zach Pyron transferred in from Class 2A defending champion Fyffe while McKinstry will be the top receiver, Kenji Christian and Mike Sharpe will be formidable at RB and the Indians will find different ways to include versatile Jaquel Fells in the offense. Rayvon Crum anchors the OL while DL Julian Peterson is a Troy commit. Noah Steen leads at LB and McKinstry also played DB last season.
HILLCREST-TUSCALOOSA AT HOMEWOOD
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Waldrop Stadium, Homewood
Last year: Homewood (4-7) lost to Pinson Valley in the first round of Class 6A playoffs and Hillcrest (3-7) failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
The skinny: Homewood QBs Brode Susce and Woods Ray will probably both see action with WR Len Irvine as a target. Clark Snow anchors the OL. LB Charlie Goode returns on defense after posting 92 tackles, including 10 for loss, and two interceptions last season and Jalen Wright leads the DL.
Hillcrest has 15 returning starters, including QB Ethan Crawford, WRs Andre Siler and Terrance Callaway on offense. The defense features DBs Luke Williams — he’s also the punter — and Braylon Howard while Jayden Robinson anchors the DL and Kendrick Davis is at LB. PK Seth Martin also returns.
RAMSAY AT BESSEMER CITY
Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Bessemer City Stadium, Bessemer
Last year: Ramsay (10-3) fell to Pleasant Grove in the third round of Class 5A playoffs while Bessemer City (8-3) lost to Wetumpka in the first round of Class 6A playoffs.
The skinny: Fourth-ranked Ramsay has depth and experience with 30 seniors — the school’s largest since restarting football in 2012 —including DL Jeremiah Williams and Tim Kennan, both with Alabama and Auburn offers. QB Kamren Ivory returns after an injury as a junior, RB Jeffrey Rowser along with receivers Jaylin Peterson and Kameron Thomas add plenty of skill while Shaun Stitten and Rolandius Williamson anchor the OL. Along with Keenan and Williams on the defensive side, DL Zion Sharpe, junior LB Jalen Wright, and Sam Young and Byron Kynard at DB will be tough on opponents.
Former University of Alabama defensive lineman Rudy Griffin is Bessemer City’s fifth new head coach in the past five seasons. The Tigers feature some good talent from last year’s 8-3 squad that fell in the first round of Class 6A playoffs. QB/WR Anterrius Harris is a UT-Martin commit while RB Jaquan Rollins is a load at 6-4, 245-pounds. DE/OLB Quintaiyous Hutchins is a Murray State commit while LB Reco Williams and DB Roy Williams are solid.
OXFORD AT THOMPSON
Time/location: 7 p.m. Saturday, Warriors Stadium, Alabaster
Last year: Oxford (14-1) won the Class 6A championship and Thompson (12-1) captured the Class 7A title.
The skinny: The second Go Gold Bowl not only features defending champions, it’s also a rematch of the Class 3A — only four AHSAA classes — 1982 championship game, won 14-11 by Thompson. It’s the only time the teams have played.
Thompson returns the talent to claim its third state title. On offense, the entire line returns to block for whoever wins the QB spot —Conner Harrell or Cade Golden — and Jarrett Crockett ran for 10 touchdowns last season while the Warriors will find ways to get touches for South Carolina commit Sam Reynolds. Army commit Tre Roberson and J.B. Mitchell are dangerous at wideout. The defense may be even better with sophomore Peter Woods named one of the top national DL in his class, LB Jeremiah Alexander is an Alabama commit, DB Tony Mitchell has nine SEC offers, including Alabama, while Gavin Shipman and EJ Edwards are strong at DB.
Oxford also returns a bevy of talent, including first-team all-state QB Trey Higgins and Tennessee WR commit Roc Taylor on offense. OL Bradyn Joiner has a Georgia offer, among others, and Brandon Kirksey is a leader on the line. Brothers Delvon and Trequon Fegans are lockdown cover corners.
BIRMINGHAM AREA SCHEDULE
Spain Park at Huntsville
Benjamin Russell at Huffman
Bessemer Academy at Glenwood
Briarwood Christian at Fort Payne
Calera at Demopolis
Carver-Birmingham at Cherokee County
Center Point at Wenonah
Chelsea at Oak Mountain
Clay-Chalkville at Shades Valley
Coosa Valley at Hooper Academy
Dallas Co. at Helena
Dothan at Hoover (canceled)
Hewitt-Trussville at Pinson Valley
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa at Homewood
Hueytown at Minor
Jackson-Olin at Woodlawn
John Carroll at Fultondale
Leeds at Sylacauga
McAdory at St. Paul’s
Montevallo at Marbury (canceled)
Oak Grove at Ashville
Parker at American Chr.
Pelham at Mortimer Jordan
Ramsay at Bessemer City
Sparkman at Gardendale
Vestavia Hills at Mountain Brook (canceled)
Oxford at Thompson