Matthew Puckett: Red Raiders, Pirates represent county in postseason

Puckett
Puckett

This week’s column is going to be short and sweet since we only have to teams left standing heading into the playoffs.
Typically, I wouldn’t try to predict the playoffs, but this year, I thought, why not give it a shot?
After finishing 7-3 overall and 4-3 in Class 1A, Region 6, Marion County faces Mars Hill--the team I thought and still think will represent the North--in the opening round of the Class 1A playoffs.
Winfield enters postseason play coming off a perfect regular season at 10-0 overall and 6-0 in Class 3A, Region 4 and will face Houston Academy.
Last week’s action saw me go 2-1 with my lone miss being Hackleburg--who I’m proud to say extended its winning streak over rival Phil Campbell to 16 straight games--to bring my overall record to 40-7--an 85.1 correct prognosticating percentage for those who like percentages.
This week’s games are scheduled for Friday, Nov. 9, with kickoff at 7 p.m.

Marion County @
Mars Hill
Marion County received what I think is the toughest draw in the northern half of Class 1A in Mars Hill for Round 1.
The Red Raiders wrapped up their regular season with an open week as the team was stuck awaiting outcomes to find out if they made the playoffs.
Marion County averaged 29.3 points per game while the team’s defense allowed just 16 points per contest.
Mars Hill (9-1, 6-0) has shattered team records this year, including points scored for a season and several individual game records.
The Panthers cruised to a 47-0 win over Class 3A Lexington to end the regular season and suffered its only loss to Class 4A Brooks 36-35. (Brooks, the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s third-ranked 4A school in the state, is the top seed in Class 4A, Region 8 and will host Oneonta in a first-round playoff game.)
The ASWA’s Class 1A No. 10-ranked Mars Hill has scored 52.4 points per game while the defense has allowed just 10.6 points per matchup.
This will be the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
I am not going into this game expecting Marion County to be blown out. On the contrary, I expect this game to be a great game. The Red Raiders are nothing if not battle-tested coming out of Region 6--the toughest region in Class 1A.

I expect the Red Raiders to give Mars Hill more than they bargained for in a first-round opponent, but I also don’t see it being enough to topple the Panthers.
Prediction:
Mars Hill

Houston Academy @ Winfield
Winfield welcomes Houston Academy to Estes Hudson Stadium for the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Class 3A’s third-ranked Pirates simply had to wait and see who they were playing to begin the team’s postseason run after having an open week to conclude the year.
Winfield’s offense has scored 39.6 points per game while the defense has allowed 13.2 points per matchup.
Houston Academy (7-3, 4-3) clawed its way into the playoffs with a 27-14 non-region win over G.W. Long last week.
The Raiders have scored 27.4 points per contest while the team’s defense has allowed 23.7 points per game.
Like Marion County and Mars Hill, Winfield has never faced Houston Academy.

Also similar to the Class 1A matchup in the county this week, Houston Academy doesn’t appear to be a pushover. The visiting Raiders saw all four playoff qualifiers from its region (Region 2) finish with a 7-3 record or better. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Look for head coach David McKinney and his Winfield Pirates to find a way to keep playing and advance to the second round.
Prediction:
Winfield


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