TALKIN' PREP FOOTBALL: Welcome to the jungle ... we've got fun and games

Aug. 23—Our considerable wait has finally reached its end.

Don't accept the words of this sports editor, though.

In fact, why not this week take a drive past any school in The Times' coverage area?

No doubt you'll hear the harmonious — and unmistakable — sounds indicating football has indeed returned.

And that means it's time for another round of pigskin preview columns in this, my 12th season with The Times.

Last year, I picked winners at an 80-percent clip. Not too shabby, but let's try to do better this time around.

Editor's Note: Due to a change in print deadlines, please check out, or my Twitter account (@winfreyjake) for comprehensive coverage of Friday night football. For now, though, it's time to see what lies ahead in Week 1.


% Mars Hill Bible at Cullman: The first game of the local slate — this one takes place Thursday night — should be a dandy.

The Bearcats will officially kick off the Danny Stiff era when they welcome to Oliver Woodard Stadium the Class 3A No. 4 Panthers.

Mars Hill Bible has collected 61 wins since the start of the 2018 season, but Cullman has won two of three all-time meetings.

That includes last year's stunner in which the Bearcats recovered a fumble in the end zone on the final play of the game to triumph.

It may not come down to such theatrics in this matchup, but I still predict the same result.

% My Pick: Cullman


% Winston County at Addison: There's nothing like a good rivalry — and this one certainly fits the bill.

Although the Bulldogs under David Smothers have usually handled the Yellow Jackets, Winston County has won two straight in the series and would no doubt love to make it three in a row, which would be its longest such streak since 1986.

That's probably not going to happen, though.

Being quite bullish on this Addison team, I am inclined to believe the Bulldogs will have more than enough bite to secure the victory and avenge one of their three losses to county opponents last season.

% My Pick: Addison


% Cold Springs at Curry: This matchup couldn't have gone any better for the Eagles in 2022.

Not only did Cold Springs snap a 13-game skid with a 36-14 triumph, but it also gave Brendan Voce his first win as a head coach.

I think a similar outcome could be in store Friday night.

After all, the Eagles made tangible progress last season. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, are 2-38 over their past four campaigns.

% My Pick: Cold Springs

*Due to high temperatures, this game will kick off at 7:30 p.m.


% Columbia at Fairview: These two programs couldn't be more disparate at the moment.

One is mired in a 71-game losing streak. The other has won 38 games since the start of the 2019 season.

Can you guess which one I'm picking?

% My Pick: Fairview


% West Point at Good Hope: Here's my pick for the game of the week.

Although I don't expect a reenactment of last season's defensive slugfest won by the Raiders, I do think it'll be another fun-to-watch meeting — think an 80s tag match between The Rockers and The Road Warriors.

At the very least, there will be a terrific quarterback battle between Good Hope's Colten Whatley and West Point's Hunter Hensley that could go a long way toward deciding the victor.

There's been a whole lot of change — both in this sport and my industry — over the years, but one thing remains constant.

When in doubt, flip a coin.

% My Pick: Good Hope

*Due to high temperatures, this game will kick off at 8 p.m.


% Brewer at Hanceville: Much like a trip to the DMV, I don't know how this one is going to shake out.

The Patriots held off the Bulldogs 20-13 last season in the first matchup between the squads since 1989.

Based on what I witnessed at last week's jamboree, though, it'd be hard not to side with the home team.

Give me the Bulldogs in a close one.

% My Pick: Hanceville


% Clements at Holly Pond: Welcome to the Coleman Mason era.

The first-year head coach will try to help the Broncos break their current 14-game losing streak against the Colts on Friday night.

Clements won the first-ever meeting between the schools (48-34) last season and I could see another offensive-minded clash.

After all, Holly Pond quarterback Sawyer Olinger and Colts running back Jayden Gilbert make for a great in-game matchup.

% My Pick: Clements

*Due to high temperatures, this game will kick off at 8 p.m.


% Vinemont at Falkville: Let's cap things off with what could be a sneaky good clash.

The last three games between these teams have been decided by a combined 21 points, including the Eagles' 46-40 win in 2022.

Both squads lost some key contributors from a season ago and both would like to open their respective campaigns with a victory.

At the end of the day, I have faith Vinemont will be able to run the ball effectively enough to come out on top.

% My Pick: Vinemont

*Due to high temperatures, this game will kick off at 8 p.m.