Albertville finished fourth in Class 6A, Region 8 and earned its fourth state football playoff appearance in five years.
Because they’re Region 8’s No. 4 qualifier, the Aggies (5-5) must travel to Region 7 champion and unbeaten Muscle Shoals (10-0). The first-ever meeting between the Aggies and second-ranked Trojans is slated for Friday night at 7 at J.F. Moore Stadium.
Senior quarterback Logan Smothers directs a Muscle Shoals’ offense averaging 42.4 points per game. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Smothers transferred from Athens to Muscle Shoals. He’s verbally committed to Nebraska.
“He throws the ball really well, and he runs the ball really well,” AHS head coach Cliff Mitchell said of Smothers. “They run a lot of quarterback buck sweeps with him. They’re really good on offense, and they’re really, really, really good on defense.
“Their inside linebacker, the [Jackson] Bratton kid, is going to Alabama, and they play their 4-2-5. They’re very, very sound in what they do.
“They’re a good team. They’re 10-0, and they’ve beaten some good teams.”
Muscle Shoals’ defense has recorded three shutouts and allowed only 92 points this season.
Trojans’ head coach Scott Basden has compiled a 110-35 record in 12 seasons. He’s guided them to 11 consecutive state playoff berths.
“We need to have a good preparation week, and we need to bring our ‘A’ game and go over there and play our butts off and try to come out of there with a ‘W,’” Mitchell said. “We’re going to have to play as good as we can play. I believe our guys can do it, but they’ve just got to bring their ‘A’ game.”
Mitchell is hoping Albertville seniors Andrew Trammell and Brendan Merrell are full speed for Friday’s game. Trammell suffered a concussion in the Aggies’ Oct. 24 win over Sardis and must be cleared to play, and Merrell is nursing a high ankle sprain that limited his playing time in last week’s 24-21 loss to Guntersville.
“We watch Brendan in warmups to see if he can go,” Mitchell said.
Guntersville scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:09 left to beat Albertville in the 105th renewal of the state’s oldest rivalry. A penalty wiped out an Aggie touchdown in the second quarter, and Trinity Bell stepped out of the back of the end zone before making a catch on Albertville’s last-ditch drive.
Albertville quarterback Ben Allen completed 28-of-35 passes for 179 yards and two scores against the Wildcats. Luke Kelly rushed 15 times for 106 yards, and Hayden Mann had six receptions for 55 yards.
Cade Boman’s 10 tackles paced Albertville. Hunter Harris and Jordan Knight made seven each
“The kids played hard,” Mitchell said. “I haven’t had to question any effort from our young’uns. They play as hard as they can.
“We had several chances to win that one. Hats off to Guntersville. A play here and a play there, and we’re coming home as the winner.
“I thought both sides played hard. After it was over, I enjoyed seeing the boys from both sides have good sportsmanship and hugging each other. That showed me that the rivalry is alive and well. A great ballgame to be a part of, and when it was over, both sides came together and it was good to see.