Who knew that title would be so accurate?
I went 0-for-2 on Thursday but rebounded to post a 3-0 mark on Friday.
As much as I would like to have put that nightmarish week by my standards behind me, I got a little good-natured ribbing on picking from Sand Rock coach Russell Jacoway on Friday. I'm not sure, but I think he might have been trying to fire me up for the playoffs.
Here’s hoping I can get my picking mojo back this week, but this isn’t your easy, run-of-the-mill first round games. There are some tough match-ups for our five playoff qualifiers, which makes my job even harder.
As always, I’ll give it my best shot.
J.B. Pennington (4-6) at Piedmont (10-0): I’ll lead off with this one, since I’m almost 100-percent certain an upset is about as likely as me suiting up for my favorite team, the Denver Broncos, and catching passes from Peyton Manning.
Piedmont is 2-0 against the Tigers, who used to be a region rival of the Bulldogs. The combined score in those games was 93-13.
Two reasons I’m very confident in picking this one: 1) Piedmont’s smothering defense, and 2) The Bulldogs are 20-1 in their last three seasons at home.
Piedmont hasn’t lost at the Field of Champions since 2010 to Hamilton in the Class 3A state semifinals. Their quest for this year's Class 3A state title gets off to a smashing start … Piedmont 52, J.B. Pennington 7.
Sand Rock (5-5) at Tanner (9-0): Picking aside, Coach Jacoway and I both agree on a couple of things: 1) The Wildcats played admirably in their loss to the Tigers last week, and 2) They played perhaps their best game of last season at Tanner last year, so Sand Rock knows what it’s in for in the return trip.
I’d really, really like to pick Sand Rock to pull the upset in this one, but after such a physical battle with Cedar Bluff on Friday and then going up against Class 2A’s top-ranked team that’s averaging 50.3 points and yielding just eight points per contest, I’m afraid it’s just too tall a task for the Wildcats to overcome … Tanner 33, Sand Rock 13.
R.A. Hubbard (6-4) at Collinsville (8-2): To me, this one is the hardest of the bunch to pick.
The five-time state champion Chiefs have a 69-25 all-time playoff record, and a 23-7 record in the first round. On the flip side, they’re only 2-3 on the road this season.
Collinsville suffered a heartbreaker last week against White Plains, and I look for this one to be much the same, even the result … R.A. Hubbard 32, Collinsville 27.
Spring Garden (8-2) at Shoals Christian (6-4): I’ve really admired what Jason Howard has been able to do in his return to the Garden this season. A break here or there and this team could have very well been a region champion hosting in the first round.
The Flame could have been also. Just look at the close games its had this season.
Shoals Christian lost at Class 2A Lexington in their season opener 21-14, flickered past R.A. Hubbard 13-12 in Week 2, lost at Hubbertville 27-26 in Week 5, and lost at Hackleburg 15-12 in Week 8.
Again, I expect another close battle here, but I don’t think the Flame has faced a running-back duo as solid as Forrest Livingston and Tyler Morgan … Spring Garden 28, Shoals Christian 21.
Phillips-Bear Creek (5-5) at Cedar Bluff (9-0): This one could perhaps be the highest scoring playoff match-up this week.
Cedar Bluff senior quarterback Levi Mintz has thrown for over 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, including last week’s 5-TD performance at Sand Rock.
The Bears have a gunslinger, too. Rodney Camp has tossed for 2,649 yards and 31 touchdowns this season, so he’ll be priority No. 1 for the Tiger defense.
The difference in this one could come down to which team has the better running game. If it does, I give the nod to the Tigers’ D’Shawn Fife … Cedar Bluff 38, Phillips 27.