For first-year Scottsboro head football coach Cris Bell, the Wildcats’ region-opening opponent is a new but familiar foe.
Bell will coach against Oxford for the first time, but he’s no stranger to coaching against the Yellow Jackets’ new head coach Sam Adams. Bell’s Oak Mountain teams from 2014-17 faced Adams’ Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa teams each season. Each coach has two wins against the other.
“Different schools now but there is some familiarity with the coaches,” Bell said. “It’s helpful when you’re playing someone you have some familiarity with. I count Sam as a friend, so there will also be a good conversation before the ball game.”
Bell leads this Wildcats against Oxford, the reigning region champion, in the Class 6A Region 7 opener for both teams Friday night at 7 at Scottsboro’s Trammell Stadium.
It’s just the fourth all-time meeting between the schools with Oxford holding a 2-1 series lead. Last year’s meeting, a 42-14 Oxford win, was the first time the schools had played since 1960.
Scottsboro (1-1) enters the matchup after suffering a 42-7 loss at 4A No. 5-ranked Madison Academy. The Wildcats fell behind 21-0 after one quarter and never recovered.
“Madison Academy is a really good team and their speed on both sides of the ball hurt us,” Bell said. “We wanted to keep it close and have a chance to win in the fourth quarter but it got away from us early and we got in a hole we couldn’t get out of. Defensively we didn’t play well early and compete like we did (the week before). Offensively we’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. Ball-control is so important to us, and penalties and things like that don’t help us sustain long drives. I think our kids are gaining confidence in the offense, we just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Scottsboro’s depth took another hit last week, as senior defensive back Kaylem Dupree was lost for the season because of a leg injury that required surgery, according to social media posts. Dupree is the second senior, the other being lineman Jonah Warren, to suffer a season-ending injury. Dupree and Warren were both multi-year starters for the Wildcats.
“That’s our second senior to go down for the year and you just feel really bad for them and so disappointed for them,” Bell said. “We’ve just got to regroup without them, but our depth is being tested early.”
Meanwhile, Oxford (0-2) is off to an uncharacteristic start. The Yellow Jackets, who had nearly 10 returning starters/players transfer this offseason, have had a tough schedule to begin this season, however, losing 55-0 to nationally-ranked and two-time defending Class 7A state champion Thompson in Week 0 and 61-24 to Class 5A No. 2-ranked Pleasant Grove in Week 1.
“Offensively, they’re doing some of the same stuff that Sam did at Hillcrest," Bell said. "They spread you out. The quarterback and the tailback are the two guys you have to stop. They’ve got a big receiver as well. Defensively they’re not as big as they have been but they’ve still got speed.”