Five county teams in action Friday

(Photo by Johnny Autery) Sweet Water's Daniel Sewell pops Demopolis' Ryan Schroeder on a pass play during last week's Jamboree game between the two county teams.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Sweet Water’s Daniel Sewell pops Demopolis’ Ryan Schroeder on a pass play during last week’s Jamboree game between the two county teams.

Two Marengo County teams got their seasons going Thursday night as Marengo Academy downed South Choctaw 34-6 and Marengo High fell 32-20 to Southern Choctaw.

For the remaining five county schools, kickoff of the 2013 season is only hours away. Here is a quick glance at what you need to know to get you ready for tonight’s local high school football action.

A.L. Johnson @ R.C. Hatch

The Eagles have not lost t o R.C. Hatch since 1991 and pulled out last year’s contest by a narrow 22-18 margin.

While their 2013 roster does not consist a lot of players, the Eagles have no shortage of talent as they enter 2013 with high expectations. But psyche matters in sport and opening the season with a loss to rival Hatch would be damaging for ALJ.

Look for the Johnson offensive line to keep the Eagles’ hopes intact as it paves the way for the ALJ ground game to put Johnson’s record at 1-0.

John Essex @ Sunshine

Never has kickoff been more welcome for any team than it will be for John Essex in week one. The Hornets have seen a tumultuous run since they last took the field Oct. 12, 2012. The team was outscored 144-14 in its last four contests of 2012 before the wheels completely came off and the team was unable to finish the season.

The Hornets have seen plenty of transition from an administrative perspective as they have welcomed a new coach and a new principal. And the summer was spent with the program’s future constantly in question.

Regardless of the outcome, Friday night will be good for Essex. The 13 players that make up the Hornet roster will finally be able to put 2012 in the rearview and move on.

Sunshine brings a certain degree of familiarity for JEHS as the schools have met every season since 1984. The Hornets have won four in a row against the Sunshine Tigers and would like little better than to open Keonn Nettles’ coaching career with a W over their traditional rival.

Linden vs. Leroy

This is a sneaky compelling contest between two traditionally physical football teams. Leroy went into rebuilding mode after the loss of long-time head coach Danny Powell to nearby Jackson High. And last year’s 39-13 home stinging at the hands of Linden surely has not been forgotten.

As such, Linden coach Andro Williams is not expecting another route. His Patriots are being groomed to focus on each series, each quarter, each contest. Doing just that will be a key ingredient to toppling Leroy.

This contest also marks the starting QB debut of Dewayne Charleston. He is the first signal-caller not named Anthony Robinson to start for Linden since 2008.

(Photo by Johnny Autery) Tyler Oates looks to pass during last week's Jamboree contest against Sweet Water.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Tyler Oates looks to pass during last week’s Jamboree contest against Sweet Water.

Sweet Water vs. Thomasville

They don’t get much nastier or more physical than Sweet Water and Thomasville. Nearby rivals, the schools have clashed every season since 1983 with Thomasville’s reign of dominance only briefly interrupted on rare occasions.

In the three-decade span since the rivalry renewed, Sweet Water has only managed to beat their neighbors to the south four times. Two of those occasions came in back-to-back seasons under head coach Stacy Luker in 2007 and 2008. Since then, however, Thomasville has won all four meetings.

Sweet Water enters the latest round with a new starting quarterback, a reconfigured offensive line and a defensive group that has the potential for the same standout performances that have made SWHS a perennial power in recent years.

But Thomasville comes equipped with a stout offensive line, an athletic quarterback, multiple ball carriers capable of breaking a game wide open and a high-powered, ground-based offense that will challenge the SWHS front like few others can.

In short, this one will be a good, old-fashioned football game.

Demopolis vs. American Christian Academy

Call it the Causey Bowl if you like, but the best story lines in this contest don’t involve the siblings who will oppose each other as head coaches.

Sure, ACA and head coach John Causey remember that 49-7 blistering that Tom Causey’s Demopolis Tigers put on them a season ago. But the team also remembers that it finished 4-6 a season ago and one of those victories actually came via forfeit.

ACA is looking to return to its championship form and ruining Demopolis’ season-opener is exactly how the Patriots would like to start that quest.

On the other side, Tyler Oates finally steps into the starting gig after seeing significant snaps at quarterback in each of the last two seasons. He will be working behind a new-look offensive line that will be faced with creating space for the Tigers’ plethora of skill players.

On the other side of the ball, DHS is employing a new 4-2-5 defense that has already seen three significant contributors suffer injuries late in the offseason. That gives rise to opportunity for a handful of reserve players.

But the biggest thing for the Tigers is the hump. Since winning the Class 5A state title in 2009, Demopolis has not made it out of the second round of the playoffs. And ACA is the first stop in a road the Tigers hopes leads them back to Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.