So who's gonna win?
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
This year's high school football schedule opens up with some intriguing matchups. Falkville coach Neil Estes is leading his first varsity team ever; Hartselle is opening on the road with a team whose coach once suited up for the Tigers; Brewer hopes to keep its winning streak alive…
I haven't been in this town long, but I've talked to enough people to think that I can make some legitimate predictions for the first week of this season. So here it is, readers, what my crystal ball says for this week:
Hartselle Tigers (0-0) at Austin Black Bears (0-0): Austin leapt out to an early lead last season before the Tigers came storming back to win in a 35-30 shootout. Hartselle has lost several key members of last year's offense, and starting out on the road against a tough opponent might be a little too steep of a hill to climb for Coach Godsey's young team. But the deck was stacked against the Tigers last year and they still prevailed…Tigers 28, Black Bears 21.
Falkville Blue Devils (0-0) at Danville Hawks (0-0): Falkville's rookie coach Neil Estes has been waiting 17 years for this moment, his first game as the head coach of a varsity program. The Blue Devils will be anxious to give their new skipper a win, and could sneak up on the more-talented Hawks if Danville's not careful. This one will be closer than one might think…Hawks 17, Blue Devils 14.
Priceville Bulldogs (0-0) at Hanceville Bulldogs (0-0): Priceville had trouble putting up points in 2004, and Hanceville had trouble stopping teams from putting up points. This one will probably be a low-scoring affair, with coach Chambers' team taking it in the end…Visiting Bulldogs 17, Home Bulldogs 10.
Brewer Patriots (0-0) at Madison County Tigers (0-0): When I talked to Brewer coach Billy Coleman about last season, he said that he thought the team's losing streak should have ended much earlier in the year. Brewer lost a close one to Madison County last season, but the Tigers won't be so lucky this time around. The streak continues – winning streak, that is…Patriots 28, Tigers 17.
The college football season is upon us, as well. Here's what I see happening for some of the big teams in 2005:
Alabama Crimson Tide: 9-2 regular season, bowl win. This Tide team is loaded on defense, and if it can stay healthy should also be able to keep up with any team offensively. This is the year for Brodie Croyle to really break out at quarterback, and for coach Mike Shula to show that he is the man for the job.
If he doesn't, he might find himself at the unemployment line once 2005 is in the books.
Auburn Tigers: 7-4, bowl win. This team had a miracle season in 2004, but has lost just too much talent to the NFL to be as good this year. The Tigers should be able to tell a lot about themselves after opening at home against a tough Georgia Tech team.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: 7-4, bowl win. Why? Because it's my column, that's why. Losses to Pittsburgh, Michigan, Tennessee and Michigan State. What's that? No loss to USC? That's right. The streak ends in South Bend. You heard it here first.