Tuscaloosa area high school football: What have we learned at the midway point

As we are in Week 5 of the Alabama high school football season, we have officially reached the halfway point.

While there's still a lot of football to be played, some teams have started to separate themselves from the pack, while others are playing catch-up.

Here are some midseason takeaways of what we have learned from the first half of the season.

State title contenders?

Many teams in the Tuscaloosa area have showed their talent so far this season, but do they have what it takes? Some surely have shown glimpses that they do.

Out of 6A-Region 4, Hillcrest has had a dominant 5-0 start to the season. The Patriots seem to be following the same path they were on last year, despite a second-round playoff exit, but could this year be the year they take it all the way?

From 4A-Region 3, Bibb County is off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2019, and it is the only undefeated team remaining in its region. Gordo, from 3A-Region 5, has also showed signs that it has what it takes to go all the way despite a Week 1 loss to Bibb County.

Pickens County is also another team in the Tuscaloosa area that has showed potential at the midway point of the season. The Tornados are annually a playoff contender, making it to the state championship game last year before ultimately losing 42-20 to Leroy, but perhaps this year can be the year they claim their second state title.

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A couple slow starts

While some teams are off to a hot start this season, some are still looking to find their groove.

One of those teams is Northridge, out of 6A-Region 4, who has started 1-3 and is 1-2 in region play. The Jaguars' three losses have come from Oak Mountain, Hillcrest and Paul Bryant, where they struggled to get going offensively until it was too late. Northridge still has the latter half of the season to turn around and make it to playoffs for the fourth-straight year, and it has the talent to do so.

Aliceville is another team that has yet to meet high expectations. The Yellow Jackets came into the season ranked No. 10 in Class 2A by ASWA, but they are off to a 1-4 start overall and 0-2 in 2A-Region 5. Aliceville has a tough schedule ahead, but it has enough talent to turn it around and make it to playoffs.

First-year coaches making a difference

Coming into this season, there were six new coaches in the Tuscaloosa area — Demario Pippen (Central), Brian Gunnels (Sulligent), Brian Newton (Holt), John McKenzie (Paul Bryant), Deon Washington (Greensboro) and Cory Cockrell (Greene County). Out of those six new coaches, five have gotten their first wins at their respective schools.

Under Gunnels, Sulligent is off to a hot 5-0 start. Central and Paul Bryant are also turning heads as the two are looking to make the playoffs this year. Central is off to a 3-2 start for the first time since 2019, while Paul Bryant is 2-3 and earned a big win last week over Northridge.

Holt also got its first win since the 2021 season last week over Dallas County, a big victory for the Ironmen, and Greene County is 2-3 for the second-straight year.

Anna Snyder covers high school sports and University of Alabama recruiting for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at Follow her on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, @annaesnyder2

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Midseason takeaways from around Tuscaloosa area high school football