Photo | Mike Kittrell
They know each other well. As neighbors playing in Class 4A, Region 1, there won’t be any secrets when the Vigor Wolves entertain the Jackson Aggies at Blount High School’s field — the Wolves’ “home” game — this Friday night.
But the stakes will be a whole lot different this time around in comparison to when the two teams met in the regular season. While that game — won by Vigor 39-13 on Sept. 11 at Ladd-Peebles Sports and Entertainment Complex when that was the Wolves’ “home” field — was certainly an important region matchup, this week’s game determines which of the two teams will play for the Class 4A state championship on Dec. 3 at Birmingham’s Protective Stadium.
So there’s a lot on the line when the two teams meet in the Class 4A state semifinals on Friday. The winner of the game will face the winner of the Oneonta at Madison Academy game for the state championship at the new home of the UAB Blazers football team at 11 a.m. on Dec. 3 as part of the annual Super 7 state title games.
Vigor head coach John McKenzie said he expects a good, competitive game from the Aggies, who he says is much improved from the team his Wolves faced earlier in the season.
“I thought they were good when we played them earlier in the year, and I think they are even better now,” McKenzie said. “If you’re playing in this part of the year you’ve got to be playing pretty good football. We respected them earlier in the season and we played well that particular day, and we know they still create a good challenge for us, and we’re preparing right now to try and meet that challenge.”
Vigor won its first nine games of the year before losing to St, Paul’s in its final regular-season game of the year. But in the playoffs, Vigor has been even stronger, rolling out to three dominating victories by outscoring its opponents 100-10. All 10 points were scored by American Christian in last week’s third-round game.
The Vigor defense is leading the way. It has claimed three shutouts this season, two coming in the playoffs. For the year, the Wolves have outscored their opponents 423-146.
Jackson, now 11-2 on the season, lost both of its games back to back and on the road. They dropped a 24-21 decision to St. Michael in a Region 1 matchup in Fairhope, then followed with the loss to Vigor. The Aggies haven’t lost a game since, running off nine straight victories. They have outscored their opponents 113-76 in the playoffs and for the year the mark stands at 498-278.
Jackson carries a 3-2 road record into the game at Blount, where Vigor has called “home” in recent games since the Mobile County Public School System stopped using Ladd-Peebles Sports and Entertainment Complex for football games or other activities since the late-season shooting during the Wolves’ game against Williamson.
Vigor is trying to get back to the state championship game. The Wolves last reached the title game in 2018 when they, like Jackson, were a Class 5A team. Vigor met Central Clay County in the championship game, losing a tight 43-42 decision that many felt the Wolves should have won.
Vigor’s last state championship came in 2008 when the Wolves defeated Russellville 50-30 to win the Class 5A state crown and cap a perfect 15-0 season. They reached the state title game in 2011 as well but lost a 13-3 decision to Hartselle.
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