The AHSAA high school football playoffs do not start for another five weeks, but they are effectively underway already for Woodville.

The Panthers enter Friday night’s Class 1A Region 7 game with R.A. Hubbard needing a win to keep their playoff hopes afloat. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Woodville’s Frazier Field. It’s the final regular-season home game and “Senior Night” for the Panthers.

A Woodville (2-4, 1-2) loss and a Decatur Heritage (7-0, 3-0) win over Falkville (4-3, 3-1) would be eliminate Woodville from playoff contention. A win keeps the Panthers in the hunt entering its final two region games.

“As for the playoffs,” said Woodville head coach Jay Powell, it’s must win.”

It’s the fourth meeting between the teams, who have meet each year since 2016. R.A. Hubbard has won two of those three previous meetings. The home team has won all three meetings. 

Woodville spent the week doing some lineup shuffling due to some injuries. 

“We got banged up last week (in a 29-7 loss to Valley Head),” Powell said. “There’s a few (players) we’re hoping are going to be ready.”

R.A. Hubbard (4-3, 2-2), located in Courtland in Lawrence County, began the season 3-0 before suffering three straight losses. The Chiefs snapped that losing streak with a 43-8 win at Gaylesville last week.

“Hubbard is really big and has some good athletes,” Powell said. “They rely on them to make plays. They’ve very multiple on offense. They’ll get in the wishbone, then be a two-back shotgun (offense) or go under center two by two. They don’t do a lot of different plays (from the different formations), but you’ve got to line up correctly against whatever they do.”

Powell said Woodville needed to tackle well defensively while its offense must finish drives. Penalties derailed several promising drives last week.

“Getting behind the chains in our offense, it’s tough to overcome it,” Powell said. “We can’t hurt ourselves.”

With the Panthers’ playoff hopes at stake and it being the “last guaranteed home game,” Powell expects his team to be ready to play.

“The kids know playoffs are on the line,” Powell said. “They’ve showed up this week focused. They know it’s crunch time.”

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