MONTGOMERY – Two defending state champions an four undefeated teams survived the third round of the 56th AHSAA State Football Playoffs as 24 teams move into the semifinals in Classes 1A through 6A this week.
The Class 7A semifinals concluded Friday night with two-time defending Class 7A state champion Thompson (12-1) downing Hoover 35-10 to clinch the North berth in the Super 7 Class 7A championship game set for Wednesday, Dec. 1 at Birmingham’s Protective Stadium. Central-Phenix City (13-0) beat Auburn 28-17 in the other 7A semifinal Friday night to claim the South berth in the 7A finals opposite the Warriors. It will be the Red Devils’ third appearance in the last four years in the big-school title game.
The other classes will settle the other six championship games set for the Super 7 Dec. 1-3 on Friday, Nov. 26.
The coaches met at the AHSAA Saturday morning to set the semifinal brackets and go over game-management details as well as Super 7 plans for those that qualify. The 7A coaches, Mark Freeman of Thompson and Patrick Nix of Central were on hand for AHSAA TV Network interviews. Also present were Smiths Station girls’ flag football coach Meg Larsen and Hewitt-Trussville flag coach Taylor Burt for interviews. The Panthers (10-2) and Huskies (10-0) clinched berths earlier this week in the first-ever AHSAA Girls’ Flag Football championship match, which will kick off the Super 7 on Dec. 1 at 3 p.m., at Protective Stadium. All seven boys’ games and the flag game will be televised over the AHSAA TV Network and live-streamed over the NFHS Network. Smiths Station downed John Carroll Catholic 14-7 in the semifinals of the flag playoffs Nov. 16, and Hewitt-Trussville beat Oxford 25-0 in the other semifinal.
The 56th annual AHSAA boys’ football playoffs, which started with 208 teams qualifying for the first round, moved forward with 26 teams still standing after Friday night’s third round.
Saks (12-1) downed Fyffe 14-7 in the Class 3A quarterfinals to end the Red Devils’ championship streak at three in a row. Fyffe won the Class 2A state title in 2018 and 2019 and the 3Achampionship in 2020. The Wildcats’ win also snapped the Red Devils’ playoff winning streak at 17 in a row.
Mountain Brook (12-1) blanked defending Class 6A state champion Pinson Valley (9-4) 30-0 in the Class 6A quarterfinals, and Jackson (11-2) scored the game-winning touchdown and extra point with 4.3 seconds remaining to upend defending Class 4A state champion Handley 24-23 Friday night. St. Paul’s Episcopal and Linde, the 5A and 1A state champions in 2020, were eliminated in the second round last week.
Class 2A defending champion Mars Hill Bible (10-3) defeated previously unbeaten Spring Garden (12-1) at Killen 42-19 Friday to keep its championship hopes alive. The Panthers travel to Cleveland (11-2) for the semifinals.
The third round started with nine undefeated teams in the hunt but only four survived – including Class 6A Clay-Chalkville (13-0), which beat Gardendale 50-44 in overtime. The Cougars of Coach Drew Gilmer travel to Mountain Brook (12-1) for the 6A north semifinals this week. That contest, announced AHSAA TV Network executive producer Vince Earley, will be featured as the AHSAA TV Network and NFHS Network Playoff Game of the Week. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m., on Nov. 26.
Other unbeaten teams advancing from the third round are Class 1A Brantley (12-0) and Sweet Water (12-0) in Class 1A; Pike Road (12-0) in Class 5A; and Central-Phenix City (13-0), which sealed its spot in the 7A finals. Ironically, Sweet Water travels to Brantley in the Class 1A South semifinals this week.
In addition to Spring Garden in Class 2A, three other unbeaten teams were ousted. In Class 3A, Piedmont (11-2) downed Winfield (12-1) 43-14; Oneonta (12-1) eliminated Brooks (12-1) 56-28 in Class 4A; and Hoover (12-1) in Class 7A was beaten by Thompson.
Home teams won 15 of the 26 third-round games (57.7%).
This week, teams from the same region will meet in four semifinals while Auburn and Central-Phenix City (Region 2), Thompson and Hoover (Region 3) met from the same region Friday. In Class 6A, Region 4 rivals Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (11-2) and Hueytown (12-1) met for the second time this season. Other region rematches include Andalusia (9-4) at Pike Road (11-0) from Class 5A, Region 2; Jackson (11-2) vs. Vigor (12-1) from Class 4A, Region 1; and Piedmont (11-2) at Saks (12-1) from Class 3A, Region 5. It will be the sixth time in seven seasons that two teams from that 3A region have met in the semifinals.
All 12 semifinals games are expected to be live-streamed over the NFHS Network’s School Broadcast Platform this week, and 11 of the 12 games will be carried live over a radio or internet live-audio affiliate.
The Class 1A-6A semifinal playoff pairings and Friday’s third-round results for all classes are below:
AHSAA 2021 FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
Friday, Nov. 26
Sweet Water (12-0) at Brantley (12-0)
Wadley (12-1) at Pickens County (11-2), Reform
Highland Home (8-5) at Clarke County (11-2), Grove Hill
Mars Hill Bible (10-3) at Cleveland (11-2)
Montgomery Academy (10-3) at Montgomery Catholic (13-0)
Piedmont (11-2) at Saks (12-1), Anniston
Jackson (11-2) at Vigor (12-1), Blount HS Stadium, Prichard
Oneonta (12-1) at Madison Academy (12-1)
Andalusia (9-4) at Pike Road (12-0)
Fairview (12-1) at Pleasant Grove (12-1)
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (11-2) at Hueytown (12-1)
Clay-Chalkville (13-0) at Mountain Brook (12-1)