As the college football season begins in two weeks, a number of area high school football squads kickoff the 2016 season this week.

Each week during the season, we will highlight a number of the top games involving teams from around Tuscaloosa and west Alabama.


Week 1 Games


#4 Hillcrest (6A) vs. Demopolis (5A) (Thursday at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery)

Traditionally, these two west Alabama rivals meet at the end of the season. However, the Hillcrest Patriots and Demopolis Tigers will open the season at the Cramton Bowl as part of the Champions Challenge Football Classic. Hillcrest finished 2015 with an 8-4 record and a second round appearance in the AHSAA 6A Playoffs while Demopolis was 10-3 with a third round appearance in AHSAA 5A Playoffs. While Demopolis will break in a new quarterback and running back, Hillcrest returns Alabama commit Brian Robinson at running back. Hillcrest leads the all-time series 13-7. Airtime on 95.3 the Bear and the radioPup app is at 6:45.


#2 Gordo (3A) vs. #6 Fayette County (4A) (Thursday)

Two longtime rivals square off in what should be a fierce contest between two playoff contenders. The Green Wave won their first 12 games last season before losing a third round playoff game 17-14 to Bayside Academy. Gordo lost three all-state players from last season including Alabama linebacker Ben Davis. Fayette County finished the 2015 regular season 6-4 but got played their best football in the postseason as they made it all the way to the Class 4A title game before falling 55-7 to Leeds. The Tigers lost four key players from last season including quarterback Drew Guy and two wide receivers. Fayette County leads the all-time series 40-27-2.


Tuscaloosa County (7A) vs. Paul Bryant (6A)

Although these two teams have struggled in recent years, Friday night’s game could provide the winner an early season confidence boost. In head coach Eldrick Hill’s second season, Paul Bryant barely missed out on the 6A Playoffs with a 2-4 region mark, but their 6-4 overall record secured their first winning season since 2011. Across the field, Bart Sessions will make his Tuscaloosa County coaching debut. Last season, the Wildcats failed to win a game for the first time since 1975. Tuscaloosa County has won all six games in the all-time series. Friday’s meeting is the first between the two teams since 2009. Airtime on Tide 102.9 and the radioPup app is at 6:45.


Northside (4A) vs. American Christian (3A)

In a game featuring a pair of former Class 3A region rivals, American Christian makes the short trip to Samantha to battle Northside. Darrin Hughes will make his head coaching debut for the Rams as he takes over for Chris Hilliker. Northside has made four straight AHSAA Playoff appearance with two each in Class 3A and Class 4A. ACA is led by third year head coach and former Patriots quarterback Chris Smelley. The Patriots finished 10-2 with a second round appearance in the Class 3A Playoffs a season ago. ACA leads the all-time series 9-3.


Other Games around West Alabama:


Winfield (4A) vs. Sipsey Valley (4A) (Thursday)

Greene County (3A) vs. Francis Marion (2A) (Thursday)

Northridge (6A) vs. Theodore (7A)

Minor (6A) vs. Greensboro (4A)

Central (5A) vs. #9 Bessemer City (6A)

Curry (5A) vs. #9 Berry (1A)

West Blocton (4A) vs. Brookwood (6A)

Bibb County (4A) vs. Jemison (5A)

Marion County (1A) vs. Sulligent (2A)

Fruitdale (1A) vs. Holy Spirit (1A)

Tuscaloosa Christian vs. Russell Christian (8-man)