Before the Fort Payne Wildcats enter the AHSAA Class 6A postseason next week, they host the 4A North Jackson Chiefs in a regular-season finale at Wildcat Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.
The 5-4 Chiefs enter with a two-game winning streak, having closed out 4A, Region 7 play with a 48-7 victory against New Hope last Friday night.
Returning home for their final regular-season game, the Wildcats (5-4) took a 41-13 loss at Oxford in their region finale last week.
“We just have to continue to improve on a daily basis,” Fort Payne head coach Chris Elmore said. “We made several ‘self-inflicted’ mistakes at Oxford on Friday. Oxford has a very good team and played very well. But, we did not execute some basic assignments like our players are capable of doing. I think our team will learn from these mistakes and do their best to not let these mistakes happen this week vs. North Jackson or next week in the playoffs.”
Last Friday night at Oxford, the Wildcats fell into a 28-0 halftime deficit and couldn’t overcome it. Oxford finished with 320 yards of offense, including 194 yards passing.
Fort Payne collected 201 yards of offense in the loss. Jake Barnes threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Sawyer Burt and Dax Varnadore tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brannon Oliver, all in the fourth quarter.
Kaden Dubose led all Fort Payne runners with 19 carries for 88 yards.
On the defensive side, Devin Wells made 11 solo tackles and assisted with six stops. Kobe King had an interception and tallied 15 total tackles.
As North Jackson visits, Dalton Morris directs the offense. Brady Cunningham is a standout receiver and Diego Holt is the team’s top running back, Elmore said.
The coach said Macklin Guess patrols the Chiefs’ defense as one of their top linebackers, and Myron Walton also does a good job in the defensive backfield.
According to the Alabama High School Football Historical Society’s website, North Jackson leads the all-time series 11-8, but the Wildcats have won the last five meetings. Last season, Fort Payne won 41-14 in Stevenson.