Bearden

Derek Bearden and NSM battle Falkville for a playoff berth when they face off Friday in Falkville.

Despite all the ups and downs the North Sand Mountain football team has been through this season, the Bison arrive at Week 9 in control of their playoff destiny. 

NSM travels to Falkville Friday night (7 p.m.) in the teams’ Class 2A Region 7 finale with the winner claiming the region’s fourth and final playoff spot.

“We’ve got a shot to get back to the playoffs and try to make some noise, but we’ve got to there first,” said NSM head coach Keith Kirby. “We’re glad to have the opportunity we’ve got. We want to get in and keep that (playoff appearance) steak alive.”

NSM (3-5, 2-3) has been to the playoffs in each of the past six seasons, the longest active postseason appearance streak among teams in the Sentinel’s coverage.

It is just the third all-time meeting between NSM and Falkville. The series is tied 1-1.

It’s the second straight season the teams’ have met with major playoff implications. NSM defeated a then undefeated Falkville 12-7 in Week 9 last season to claim the Class 2A Region 7 championship. 

Falkville (4-4, 2-3) enters the rematch on a three-game losing streak. The Blue Devils lost 14-0 at Ider last week while playing without their two best offensive weapons, running back Jordan Greenfield and quarterback Caden Burnett. 

Kirby called the duo “playmakers” and said NSM is preparing this week as if both Burnett and Greenfield will be in the Falkville lineup. 

NSM, which is undefeated on the road this season, is coming off a dominant 39-6 win over Whitesburg Christian. Freshman quarterback Landon Keller posted career highs in passing yards (197) and passing touchdowns (four ) while five different Bison found the end zone as they raced in front 39-0 at halftime.

“Hopefully we can build off that (performance),” Kirby said. “The biggest thing is we’ve got to make sure that we do the basic football stuff right. Got to limit penalties, protect the ball, create turnovers. We’ve got to finish the game, something we’ve struggled with a bit during the season. It’s about us and doing what we’re supposed to do. Go play hard and see what happens.”

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