High school basketball tipped off this week in Conecuh County, and by and large basketball season in Conecuh County is usually the best season on the annual sports calendar.
Hillcrest’s boys and Sparta’s girls are usually among the state’s best in their respective classifications while Sparta’s boys and Hillcrest’s girls are typically above average from year to year, depending on what kind of talent they have. I expect this year to be no different.
Veteran head coach Russ Brown, who has a number of state titles under his belt, will remain the head boys and girls coach at Sparta this year, so it’ll be business as usual for those teams, which is to say they’ll be pretty good.
Tammie Patrick, who cut her teeth at hoops powerhouse J.F. Shields, returns as the girls head coach at Hillcrest, where she had an outstanding season last year in her first year as head coach. Chenson Griffin, who many will remember from his outstanding playing days at Hillcrest, is beginning his first season as Hillcrest’s head boys coach.
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The 11th weekend of our local ESPN College Football Pick ‘Em Contest closed out on Saturday night, and the standings shook up again this week.
I (barely) held on to first place for the seventh week in a row, and Steve Stacey jumped from third place to second place. Drew Skipper dropped from second place to third place. Robert Bozeman jumped from fifth place to fourth place, and Ricky Taylor jumped from No. 7 to fifth place.
Rod Sims remained in sixth place for the third straight week, and Justin Chandler dropped from fourth place to seventh place. Eric Talbot and Nick Watson were tied for eighth place. Talbot wasn’t in the Top 10 last week, and Watson was in ninth place last week.
Casey Grant and Hunter Norris finished the week tied for the No. 10 spot. Grant was in tenth place last week, and Norris was in seventh place last week.
If you’re taking part in this contest and didn’t make the Top 10 this week, don’t worry about it. We’ve got three more weeks left in the contest, and there’s a lot of football left to be played. The Top 10 changes a good bit every week, and you can bet that next week will probably be no different.
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According to this week’s SEC football schedule, there are four head-to-head games between SEC teams this Saturday. Florida will play LSU at noon in Baton Rouge, and Missouri will play Tennessee at 2:30 p.m. in Knoxville. Arkansas will play Mississippi State at 6 p.m. in Starkville, and Ole Miss will play Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. in Nashville.
In other games this week featuring SEC teams, Alabama will play Chattanooga at 6 p.m. in Tuscaloosa, and Auburn will play Alabama A&M at 6:30 p.m. in Auburn. Georgia will play Louisiana-Lafayette at 11 a.m. in Athens, and Texas A&M will play Texas-San Antonio at 11 a.m. in College Station. South Carolina will play Western Carolina at 3 p.m. in Columbia, S.C., and Kentucky will play Austin Peay at 3:30 p.m. in Lexington.
Here are my predictions as to how those games will turn out. I like Alabama over Chattanooga, Auburn over Alabama A&M, LSU over Florida, Tennessee over Missouri, Ole Miss over Vandy, Mississippi State over Arkansas, Texas A&M over Texas-San Antonio, Georgia over UL-Lafayette, South Carolina over Western Carolina and Kentucky over Austin Peay.
Last week: 5-2. So far this season: 73-18.