The high school football state playoffs begin tonight across the state. Here are four things to watch for involving area teams.

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Does Morgan County football deserve more respect?

Six of the nine football programs in Morgan County are in the playoffs. Six teams made it last year, too. You have to go all the way back to 1999 to find the last time Morgan County had that many schools in the state playoffs.

There are four repeat teams: Austin, Hartselle, Decatur Heritage and Falkville. Priceville and Danville are in the playoffs this year after not making it in 2018. Decatur and Brewer were in the playoffs in 2018, but didn’t make it back this season.

That’s eight out of nine schools in the playoffs over the last two years. The ninth school is West Morgan. The Rebels were in the playoffs in 2017.

So that’s all nine of the schools in Morgan County in the playoffs over a three-year period. Maybe some people underestimate football in Morgan County.

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Can any team from Class 7A, Region 4 advance?

This is the sixth year for Class 7A football in Alabama. It’s the sixth year for teams in Region 4 from north Alabama to attempt to break through the dominance of Region 3 in the Birmingham area, which includes Hoover, Spain Park, Thompson, Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Oak Mountain and Hewitt-Trussville.

Representing Region 4 tonight are Austin, Florence, Sparkman and James Clemens. Austin travels to Thompson. Sparkman is at Hoover. Florence hosts Mountain Brook. James Clemens hosts Vestavia.

No Region 4 team advanced out of the first round in 2018 and 2017. James Clemens did in 2016 and 2015, but lost in the second round both years. In 2015, Gadsden City won two playoff games before losing to Hoover in the semifinals.

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Will Priceville's Jerry Burton break 200 yards?

The Bulldogs’ running back leads the area in rushing with 2,203 yards to go along with 28 touchdowns. He’s had seven games this season with over 200 yards rushing.

The Rogers Pirates will try to slow Burton tonight when they visit Priceville. He may need to break 200 for Priceville to have a chance to advance to the second round.

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Can Decatur Heritage go to 11-0?

The Eagles are one of 21 teams in the state to finish the season undefeated. Joining Decatur Heritage in the undefeated ranks in Class 1A are Isabella (10-0), Lanett (9-0) and Mars Hill (10-0).

If Decatur Heritage beats Vina tonight, the Eagles would be one win away from matching the school record of 12 wins in a season, which happened in 2015.

 david.elwell@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2395. Twitter @DD_DavidElwell.

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