At 7-2 and playoff bound, the Scottsboro Wildcats still have much to play for Friday night at Madison County High School in Gurley in the regular season finale for both teams.
Getting that eighth win is important for a number of reasons. First, it will come against another 7-2 team that is considered by many as among the better teams in North Alabama. Second, it will help avenge a 56-14 setback from a year ago to the home standing Tigers who return most of the starters from last season’s 4A state semifinal team. Third, it would be another step toward a great turnaround season for the Wildcats under first year head coach Patrick Nix. Finally, in addition to upping the team’s current win streak to seven games, it would give Scottsboro needed momentum entering the first round of the 5A playoffs.
Yes, the Wildcats seized part of the opportunity before them talked about in this space a week ago when they soundly defeated Fort Payne, 35-20, for the TopCat trophy. This week is another chance for Scottsboro to get the attention of fans across North Alabama and media types around the state before squaring off with Parker of Birmingham (also 7-2) at Trammell Stadium on Nov. 8 in the playoffs.
Madison County is well respected. The Tigers have lost to 4A region foe Johnson that is 8-1 on the season and to 6A Hazel Green. Otherwise, they’ve easily marched through the 2013 schedule with little trouble. In their seven wins Madison County has outscored opponents by 34 points per contest. On the season the Tigers average 33.1 PPG and give up 12.3.
A win proves that Wildcat football is competitive again after years of being little more than the laughingstock of 5A football in North Alabama. Even when Scottsboro made the playoffs it was as a road team against a favored foe.
It showed. Scottsboro’s 2006 team finished at 5-6 after a loss in the first round of the playoffs to Gardendale. The 2007 and 2008 teams finished at 6-5 after losing to Benjamin Russell and Hartselle by big margins in the opening round.
The perception right or wrong that Scottsboro didn’t belong in the playoffs was evident after those seasons. The 2013 Wildcats have earned their way into the playoffs as a second seed. In a region where there is a semblance of parity the team finished 6-1 in region play to finish behind undefeated and Top 10 ranked Southside. Etowah and Fort Payne are the other two playoff bound teams from Region 7.
It won’t change this week or in the playoffs. Scottsboro will face quality opponents, no matter how far they advance, that offer a tough challenge. For a good team, the focus will remain on Friday night’s contest and the chance to improve and make a statement. Again, we’ll see if the Wildcats will seize the opportunity and the moment.