Oct. 25—If you like piecing together puzzles or solving mysteries, then the Week 10 slate is one you don't want to miss.
All nine teams in The Times' coverage area will compete this week, and when the dust settles, we should have all the clarity we need as it pertains to the postseason ... emphasis on should.
I will try my best to explain — not hem and haw — each program's playoff scenario as warranted.
Let's get to it.
Class 1A, Region 8
▶ Addison (6-2, 4-1) at Phillips (2-6, 2-4): The Bulldogs should have no trouble in this game.
The Bears are surrendering 40.1 points per game defensively — bad news against the likes of quarterback Jed Wilkins and other standouts — and trail in the all-time series 17-8-1, including a 45-12 loss last season.
Addison likely won't notch a region title — not without unlikely losses by Hackleburg — but a victory this Friday night and next would secure a first-round home playoff game for the 10th time under coach David Smothers.
I'll bet a week's salary that happens.
▶ My Pick: Addison
Class 2A, Region 5
▶ Cold Springs (4-5, 1-4) at Tuscaloosa Academy (6-2, 4-1): The Eagles have a tough task to close the season.
The Knights are coming off back-to-back impressive wins over Winston County and Sulligent — teams that earlier this year vanquished Cold Springs — and can celebrate a region title with a victory this Friday night.
Tuscaloosa Academy won the first-ever meeting between the schools last year by a score of 41-22.
I have to pick the home team here.
▶ My Pick: Tuscaloosa Academy
Class 2A, Region 6
▶ Holly Pond (1-7, 1-4) at Cleveland (1-7, 1-4): The Broncos return from a bye week seeking their second victory.
The Panthers also sport just one win this season — both they and Holly Pond have defeated Gaston — and would love nothing more than to give the home crowd something to cheer about this Friday night.
Like trying to figure out why some people enjoy skydiving, I don't have a clue here.
Cleveland, though, won last year's game 40-6 and has played some stellar teams outside the region, such as Oneonta and J.B. Pennington.
Those facts have me leaning toward the home team.
▶ My Pick: Cleveland
Class 3A, Region 7
▶ Vinemont (2-6, 1-4) at Asbury (1-7, 1-4): This one isn't hard to explain at all.
The Eagles will claim a playoff spot for the fourth straight campaign with a victory this Friday night.
Given that the Rams have been outscored 350-55 this season, I'm inclined to believe that will happen.
Should I be correct, it'll mark the first time since 1987-90 the Eagles have pulled off that above feat.
▶ My Pick: Vinemont
Class 4A, Region 6
▶ Good Hope (3-6, 2-3) at Oneonta (6-2, 4-1): The Raiders will try to close out their season with a big-time win.
The No. 10 Redskins have recorded four consecutive victories — scoring 47.5 points per contest — since a Week 4 loss to No. 1 Cherokee County and are led by running back and South Alabama commit Da'Marion 'Fluff' Bothwell, who earlier this season accounted for eight total touchdowns in a win over Etowah.
I think Good Hope can put up some points here, but Oneonta (8-1 all-time against the Raiders) should prevail.
▶ My Pick: Oneonta
Class 4A, Region 6
▶ Hanceville (3-5, 1-4) at Fultondale (3-5, 3-2): The Bulldogs need two more wins to finish their season at .500.
The first step toward achieving that goal begins this Thursday night against a Wildcats team that's fresh off a 35-7 victory over another Cullman County program in Good Hope, which beat Hanceville 28-0 back in Week 7.
Because of this transitive property — not always the smartest play, admittedly — I'll side with Fultondale, though I think the Bulldogs can compete.
▶ My Pick: Fultondale
Class 5A, Region 8
▶ Fairview (8-0, 5-0) at Russellville (7-1, 5-0): These programs are once again set to play for a region crown.
The No. 10 Golden Tigers beat the No. 6 Aggies 41-14 last season and, in my opinion, are an even better squad in 2023.
Russellville's lone loss came back in Week 6 to Class 3A No. 4 Mars Hill Bible, but coach John Ritter's team has beaten every other opponent by at least 23 points.
Fairview, though, has been equally impressive behind a terrific rushing attack and laudable defense — one that has surrendered just 57 points this season.
I fully expect a four-quarter slugfest here, though I don't know who comes out on top.
▶ My Pick: Russellville
Class 5A, Region 8
▶ Brewer (3-5, 2-3) at West Point (4-5, 1-4): Here's where we run into some slight postseason complexity.
West Point must win this Friday night against the Patriots to advance to the playoffs — that much we do know.
Tiebreakers could arise should East Limestone defeat Ardmore, but based on my research, none of it matters.
The eventual tiebreaker (L) would eliminate East Limestone and revert back to Friday's head-to-head result.
Brewer edged West Point 22-21 last season to snatch away the final playoff spot. Could the home team exact some revenge this time around?
▶ My Pick: Brewer
▶ Etowah (3-5) at Cullman (4-5): The Bearcats will close regular season play with the Class 4A Blue Devils.
Cullman, which won last year's meeting 31-7, is 14-5-1 all-time against Etowah and the superior squad here.
Look for the home team to take care of business this Friday night before resting up ahead of the postseason.
▶ My Pick: Cullman
▶ Last Week's Record: 5-2
▶ Season-to-Date Record: 52-15