It happens rarely enough. For those involved Friday night, it came as little surprise, though.
Of the 48 regions that comprise the six AHSAA football classifications, three regions statewide managed to advance all four of their playoff teams past Friday’s first-round games.
Of those three regions, two — Class 3A, Region 8 and Class 5A, Region 8 —include area high schools.
In other words, 3A-8, which includes Lauderdale County, Deshler, Colbert County and Madison Academy, and 5A-8, which includes Muscle Shoals, Russellville, Hartselle and Cullman, went a combined 8-0 in the first round.
“Did it surprise me regarding our region? Not really,” Colbert County coach Dale Jeffreys said. “You look at our region and it has some of the best teams in the state. I think the other three (region playoff) teams were expected to win. We went on the road and were able to win by finally putting together a complete game. It just goes to show the kind of competition there is in this region.”
The occurrence is pretty rare locally.
Since the AHSAA went to the eight-team region format in 2000, once previously (2006) have two regions including local high schools both gone undefeated in the first round of the playoffs.
In all, regions including local high schools have gone a perfect 4-0 in the opening round a total of seven times. Before this postseason, Class 3A, Region 8 (then fielding playoff teams of Lauderdale County, Sheffield, Rogers and Elkmont) was the last to do so in 2011.
Aside from 3A-8 and 5A-8, Class 1A, Region 5 (Marion County, Pickens County, Berry and Hubbertville) is the only other in the state this postseason to advance all four of its teams to the second round.
Jeffery’s Colbert County team arguably was the surprise of the lot.
The Indians saw a state-best 30-year streak of playoff appearances snapped in 2011. They started this year, Jeffrey’s first year as head coach at his alma mater, 5-0 before losing four of their last five regular-season games, all to top-10-ranked teams.
“We played a really tough schedule down the stretch, and we were always missing an ingredient,” Jeffreys said. “We had turned it over a lot and didn’t play well defensively for a whole game. We kept working and finally put it together.”
That came in last Friday’s playoff-opening 42-21 at Class 3A No. 3 Hamilton (10-1).
Colbert County’s defense forced four turnovers on downs, including once inside its 20-yard line and another inside the 10, and scored on a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Collin King.
Meanwhile, running back Ryan Carpenter rushed for 254 yards and three touchdowns behind an improved offensive line.
“We finally found some things we can do that we can hang our hat on and kind of found an identity offensively,” Jeffreys said. “Really, it’s stuff Colbert County had done for years in the past. Our offensive line is getting better, Ryan is playing better and other backs are stepping up to take pressure off him.
“We really focused on the offensive line after the Deshler loss, and they really played their best game to that point against Brooks. The strength of the region schedule we had was invaluable. If we hadn’t played such good teams we might have had a better record, but it sure wouldn’t have prepared us for this.”
All four Class 3A, Region 8 playoff teams were ranked in the ASWA top 10 at some point during the regular season, while No. 4 Lauderdale County, No. 5 Madison Academy and No. 10 Deshler finished ranked.
Three of the four teams in Class 5A, Region 8 — Muscle Shoals, Hartselle and Cullman — were ranked during the regular season. Muscle Shoals finished No. 1, while Cullman and Hartselle were ranked through Week 9.
Thanks to the latest AHSAA realignment, the eight-team region featured six that made the 2011 playoffs.
Hartselle (7-4), the defending 5A champion, settled for the region’s fourth seed after a Week 9 loss to Russellville and getting the short end of a tiebreaker. Still, the Tigers went on the road and knocked off second-ranked, previously undefeated Fort Payne 14-6 in its playoff opener Friday.
Russellville (9-2) also went on the road and beat Etowah in its opener, 49-6, its defense getting five takeaways for a total of 15 in its last three games.
Golden Tigers coach Michael Jackson expected this kind of early playoff success from the region and won’t be surprised to see some rematches down the road.
“I expect to see some teams from our region to play again in the playoffs,” Jackson said. “Those teams are all so good. Having played that competition every week has made us a better team. It didn’t surprise me at all to see them all advance.”
Bryan App can be reached at 256-740-5730 or