Nov. 14—Last week nine local teams entered the state football playoffs. This week four remain.
Hartselle, Priceville, West Morgan and Tanner are still standing, while Austin, Athens, Lawrence County, Hatton and Decatur Heritage all saw their seasons come to an end.
The four teams that picked up wins Friday all took different paths to getting there.
As expected, West Morgan was as dominant as they've been all season in a 56-0 drubbing of Etowah. Running back Jalen Fletcher accounted for 378 yards of offense, while the defense held the Blue Devils to just 93 total yards of offense.
Hartselle struggled early against Center Point, trailing 12-10 at halftime, before finishing strong in the second half to secure a 28-18 win. The Tigers will have to travel to take on Gadsden City this Friday for the second time this season. Hartselle defeated the Titans 31-28 in September.
Tanner had possibly the most exciting game of the first round. The Rattlers trailed 28-12 early before coming back to win 64-55 behind Tailan Hall's four touchdowns.
Then there was Priceville.
The Bulldogs lost four of their last five games to close the regular season and came into the playoffs with a 4-6 record. There's a reason you play the games, however, as they went on the road and upset Dora, the Class 4A, Region 5 champions, 18-14.
With four teams left, the question remains. How many can advance to the third round?
It's been seven years since more than one team from The Decatur Daily's coverage area made it past the second round.
For three of the four teams, it's been just as long if not longer since they made it.
Hartselle is the lone exception. The Tigers advanced to the third round in 2022.
Tanner's last quarterfinal appearance came in 2016, which was the last season under longtime head coach Laron White, who led the Rattlers to two state championships.
For West Morgan, you have to go all the way back to 1994 for the school's last trip to the third round. The Rebels have been ousted in the second round 11 times since.
Then there's Priceville.
Priceville has reached the playoffs three of the last four seasons, losing in the second round each time. The Bulldogs have never reached the third round of the playoffs.
This week they travel to take on a Brooks team that, like Priceville, finished the regular season with an average record (6-4), but pulled off a stunning upset (56-42 over Oneonta) in the first round.
So how many can advance to the third round?
In the playoffs, anything can happen. All four losing is just as likely as all four winning.
However, it certainly feels as if The Daily's streak of having no more than one team advance since 2016 is in serious jeopardy.
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