The Alabama high school football season begins Aug. 19.
Here is a look at 15 games scheduled around the Gadsden area to watch picked by sports writer Teddy Couch.
Coosa Christian at Westbrook Christian
When: Week 1 (Aug. 19)
The Conquerors are hoping for a breakout season, looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2018. A win against the Warriors would be a massive start. Westbrook leads the series 5-0 since both joined the AHSAA and is looking to start a run to its fifth consecutive playoff berth.
Etowah at Gadsden City
When: Week 1 (Aug. 20)
In what is arguably the biggest rivalry in Etowah County, the Titan defense — led by multiple college prospects, including three-star 2022 cornerback Rodney Johnson — will hit the field after earning a shutout victory in last year’s meeting. It’ll be the first look at the Blue Devils, who are replacing four Division I signees, but return quarterback Trace Thompson. The Titans lead the series 5-2.
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Southside at Hokes Bluff
When: Week 2 (Aug. 26)
The Panthers broke a three-game losing streak in the rivalry last season and went on to earn a 6A playoff berth. Southside lost a lot of production from that team and also has a new coach in Miles Holcomb. Hokes Bluff will take the field also looking to replace key players, particularly Will Clemons and Hunter Burke.
‘FOR THE CITIES’:The culture new Southside football coach Miles Holcomb is trying to create
Cherokee County at Piedmont
When: Week 2 (Aug. 27)
The Warriors have lost the last nine meetings against the Bulldogs, per the Alabama High School Football Historical Society. Cherokee County will be led by running back Damien Ramsey while Piedmont will lean on 2020 3A Back of the Year finalist quarterback Jack Hayes. Bulldogs coach Steve Smith is a Cherokee County alum.
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Sand Rock at Westbrook Christian
When: Week 3 (Sept. 3)
The matchup will likely go a long way in determining playoff positioning for 2A, Region 6 despite it being early. Westbrook was the No. 2 seed in 2020, but lost a lot of production from that squad.
MAKING PROGRESS:Westbrook Christian reached the 2nd round and it wasn’t a big deal. That means progress.
Hoover at Gadsden City
When: Week 4 (Sept. 10)
Hoover will come to town with plenty of athletes who will play in college. That includes 2023 cornerback Dale Miller, who has offers from Auburn, Tennessee and Ole Miss. It’ll be the seventh meeting between the two schools with the Titans looking for their first win in the series.
Fultondale at Etowah
When: Week 4 (Sept. 10)
Despite it being the second 4A, Region 6 game of the season for each, the result of this one could go a long way in determining who finishes where. Another interesting wrinkle is Fultondale’s new coach Kendric Cook is an Etowah alum. Cook, who played at Mississippi State, was on the Blue Devils’ staff the last two seasons. It’s the home opener for Etowah.
Hokes Bluff at Glencoe
When: Week 5 (Sept. 17)
This is one of the oldest running rivalries in Etowah County. Glencoe leads the series 42-34-1, according to the AHSFHS, but Hokes Bluff has the upper hand as of late winning the last five meetings.
Boaz at Albertville
When: Week 6 (Sept. 24)
The Pirates looked to be on their way to breaking a seven-game losing streak in the series last season, but the Aggies rallied and eventually won in double overtime. This will be Albertville coach Chip English’s first experience in the “Backyard Brawl”.
Westbrook Christian at West End
When: Week 7 (Oct. 1)
This will be the start of four consecutive region games for both, a key stretch in trying to clinch a playoff berth. The Warriors have been a playoff regular, but the Patriots are in search of their first postseason appearance since 2016.
LOOKING TO BE PHYSICAL:Setting the standard begins in updated weight room for West End football, Derrick Sewell
Gadsden City at Thompson
When: Week 8 (Oct. 8)
This one will not go down in Gadsden, but anytime a team from the area is playing Thompson, which finished No. 7 in the 2020 USA TODAY Super 25 high school football rankings, it’s worth mentioning. The Warriors have many highly touted recruits, including 2022 Alabama commitment Jeremiah Alexander.
RECRUITING:Alabama football lands top-ranked 2022 edge rusher Jeremiah Alexander from Thompson
Etowah at Lipscomb Academy
When: Week 9 (Oct. 15)
The Blue Devils will take a long road trip to Nashville, Tennessee, to face Trent Dilfer’s Lipscomb Academy. It’ll be a big challenge for Etowah as the Mustangs finished runner-up in their class last year. Etowah was a 4A semifinalist.
Piedmont at Hokes Bluff
When: Week 9 (Oct. 15)
This will be the lone regular-season trip to Etowah County for Piedmont. The Bulldogs have won at least 12 games and secured three state championships in the last six seasons. Hokes Bluff narrowly missed out on the postseason in 2020 after making it the previous four years. The Eagles look to snap a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
Scottsboro at Fyffe
When: Week 11 (Oct. 28)
The Red Devils are riding a 45-game win streak and have won three consecutive state championships. The streak would be up to 53 games if Fyffe is able to keep it alive before playing 6A Scottsboro, which is three classifications bigger. It’ll be the first meeting between the two, according to AHSFHS.
Southside at Etowah
When: Week 11 (Oct. 29)
Both were playoff bound before the non-region rivalry matchup to end the regular season in 2020. Each hope for the same scenario this season. In one of the top rivalries in Etowah County, the Panthers pulled off an upset last year before the Blue Devils made their deep postseason run.
10 other games to watch
Coosa Christian at Gaston, Aug. 27
Glencoe at Weaver, Sept. 3
Oxford at Gadsden City, Sept. 24
Sardis at Southside, Sept. 24
Collinsville at Sand Rock, Sept. 24
Fort Payne at Southside, Oct. 8
Dora at Ashville, Oct. 8
Cherokee County at Handley, Oct. 8
Walter Wellborn at Piedmont, Oct. 22
Sardis at Hokes Bluff, Oct. 29
Reach Gadsden Times reporter Teddy Couch at [email protected] or via Twitter, @Teddy_Couch.