Class 5A, No. 5 Etowah and Center Point haven’t met a lot, but they’ve become more familiar with each other over the last year.
The Blue Devils traveled to Center Point last year for the second round of the playoffs and came back to Attalla with a 24-14 victory to end the Eagles’ season.
Later in the school year, it was Center Point’s turn in ending Etowah’s season on the hardwood. The two faced off at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum in the Northeast Regional finals with a berth in the state tournament on the line. The Eagles won 69-49.
Friday night’s first-round matchup at Jim Glover Stadium in Attalla will be the sixth meeting on the football field between the two schools. Etowah is 4-1 all-time against Center Point (formerly known as Erwin High School).
NOT YOUR AVERAGE 4 SEED
Some 1 vs. 4 game in the first round are easy wins for the top seed. That is far from the case for the Blue Devils (9-1).
Had Center Point beaten Central-Clay County in its regular season finalé, they would’ve been the Region 5 champion. But the Eagles narrowly lost to the defending 5A state champions 19-12 and fell to fourth.
“I told our guys that I thought they are the best four seed in Alabama,” Etowah coach John Holladay said.
The Eagles are 7-3 with each loss coming against a playoff team — 7A, No. 7 Mountain Brook (24-6), 5A Sylacauga (17-6) and the 5A, No. 4 Volunteers.
“We won’t be overwhelmed by any means,” Center Point coach George Bates said. “But at the end of the day, we are the four seed. We are on the road first round versus the best from Region 6.”
ASSESSING THE OPPOSITION
Holladay: “They are extremely athletic. Their defensive front is large and aggressive. They have skill players all over the field.”
Bates: “They are well-coached and an explosive ball team. That’s what jumps out at you. We swapped the last five games of the season. You can put on the film and see the first three or four plays of Etowah having the ball are touchdowns.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
It’s the usual suspects for Etowah: Quarterback Brady Troup, running back Trent Davis, receiver Ollie Finch and the do-it-all guy NyNy Davis. — all juniors. All of these guys have been banged up, but don’t expect any of them to miss any playing time Friday night.
“(The bye week) was big for us because we needed to get some people healthy,” Holladay said. “ … Everybody (will play).”
While Center Point has many athletes to watch, Jayson Jones — No. 4 for the Eagles — wears many different hats. He plays some quarterback, running back, receiver, cornerback, punts, kicks off, returns punts and returns kickoffs. Jones transferred to Center Point from Fultondale for his senior season. According to 247 Sports, the three-star athlete is committed to Jacksonville State as a receiver and holds SEC offers from LSU, Ole Miss and Kentucky.
“He is an offensive specialist,” Bates said. “ … He’s just a very athletic kid that can move around for us to help us in any fashion to be successful.”