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Hartselle Enquirer

Patriots are slowly getting better

By Staff
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
In each of the last three seasons, Brewer has won exactly two football games. That's six wins total in coach Billy Coleman's tenure (seven if you include this year's opening-game win against Priceville). It might come as a surprise then, when Coleman says that this past weekend's 21-14 loss to Muscle Shoals might be the best game Brewer's ever played since he's been coach there.
It might be a surprise, but it really shouldn't be. Yes, the Patriots lost the game, but they competed with the Trojans like never before. Last season, Muscle Shoals defeated Brewer 49-28; in 2005, Muscle Shoals won 31-21; and in 2004 the Trojans clobbered Brewer 61-27.
At Brewer, it has almost come to be expected that the Patriots will be blown out unless they are facing one of the poorer teams on its schedule. While Muscle Shoals is probably not a team who will make the playoffs in a loaded Region 8, the Trojans are still a solid team that would probably compete for the postseason in other regions. For Brewer to stay close for the entire game says a lot about the direction the Patriots' program is headed.
There is also the possibility that next year's realignment might place Brewer in Region 7, which could help the Patriots be more competitive. Regardless of where Brewer ends up, it's hard to argue the significant strides the program has taken under Coleman.
How will Brewer and the other local teams do this week? Here's my picks.
Hartselle Tigers (0-3, 0-2) at Muscle Shoals Trojans (2-1, 1-1): This game is almost a must-win for Hartselle if it wants to make the postseason this year. The Tigers have struggled to score through their first three games of the season, averaging just seven points a contest. Other than the exception of a few big plays by Decatur's Chris Coffey, the defense has been very strong. Last season, Muscle Shoals gave a very good Hartselle team all it could handle at J.P. Cain Stadium, as the Tigers survived with a 24-14 victory in a game that was as close as three points in the fourth quarter. This season, Hartselle's defense will help shut down Muscle Shoals' talented running back Avery Jackson and the Tigers' own rushing attack will score enough points to win a tough game…Tigers 14, Trojans 7.
Brewer Patriots (1-2, 0-2) at West Point Warriors (1-2, 0-2): Both teams will be looking at this game as their one realistic shot to pick up a region win this season. Brewer won last year's contest 9-6 and looked strong last Friday against Muscle Shoals. The Patriots should have enough to pick up their second win of the season…Patriots 17, Warriors 10.
North Jackson Chiefs (3-0, 2-0) at Priceville Bulldogs (1-2, 1-1): This could be a really tough game for the homestanding Bulldogs to swallow. No. 1 North Jackson is the premier Class 4A northern powerhouse in Alabama and the Indians appear just as strong this year, outscoring their opponents 145-41 through the first three games. One of those wins was against Buckhorn, who is currently tied for the lead in Class 6A's Region 8. Priceville picked up a nice region win last week, but it will be very difficult to avoid a loss this Friday…Chiefs 41, Bulldogs 10.
Vinemont Eagles (2-1, 1-1) at Danville Hawks (0-3, 0-2): Until the Hawks learn to score points, it is hard to see them winning many ball games. Danville has scored 14 points through its first three games – Vinemont scored 16 points just in its opening win at Class 4A Fairview…Eagles 27, Hawks 10.
Falkville Blue Devils (2-1, 1-1) at Cold Springs Eagles (0-3, 0-2): Falkville defeated this team 40-22 last season, so the Eagles will be out for revenge in front of their home fans. It shouldn't make a difference, though, as this is a bad football team that has been outscored 71-13 by its opponents so far. Falkville will be looking to bounce back from a tough home loss to Fultondale and they'll be able to get back on the winning track Friday…Blue Devils 31, Eagles 13.
Georgia Bulldogs (2-1, 0-1) at Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0, 2-0): The Bulldogs' 35-14 opening game win over Oklahoma State lost a lot of its luster after the Cowboys were clobbered 41-23 in Troy last Friday. Meanwhile, Alabama has looked exactly like the team I expected to see this season – explosive offense and shaky defense. Georgia's own offense has struggled at times this season, but quarterback Matthew Stafford should be able to make some plays against the Alabama secondary. It won't be enough, though, as another raucous Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd makes all the difference for Alabama…Crimson Tide 35, Bulldogs 21.
New Mexico State Aggies (2-1) at Auburn Tigers (1-2): Each of the last three weeks I had strongly considered picking Auburn to be upset, but was never confident enough to pull the trigger. I'm probably a week too late now, but I think Auburn's bound for another confusing home loss this weekend. First, the Tigers are just ready to get back to SEC play, starting with a tough matchup in Gainesville, Fla. next Saturday. This game means a lot more to New Mexico State than it does to Auburn, and it would not surprise me at all to see the Aggies go up early. Secondly, the Aggies are more than capable of attacking Auburn's main weak spot on defense – the secondary. New Mexico State quarterback Chase Holbrook has shined in coach Hal Mumme's system, throwing for 1,187 yards through the Aggies' first three games. Auburn must find a way to get pressure on Holbrook, or he will pick the Tigers' pass defense apart…Aggies 24, Tigers 20.
Michigan State Spartans (3-0) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-3): The honeymoon appears to be over for Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, as questions abound about just how good a college coach the former NFL whiz kid coordinator really is. Looking at the numbers, it's hard to see how the offensive "genius" has been reduced to fielding the NCAA's worst offensive team (Notre Dame has just 6 points scored by its offense through three games). Until the Irish get back to strong fundamentals, it's hard to see them beating anyone, let alone a Spartans team that has won five straight games in South Bend…Spartans 28, Fighting Irish 13.

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