Both teams are undefeated and Sand Mountain rivals. Each school has had legendary success in northeast Alabama. One has suffered only 1 losing season in 30 years. The other has won 10 games or more in the last six seasons, as well trips to the last 3 state championship games winning the title twice. The Plainview Bears travel to meet the Fyffe Red Devils Friday night for the 57th time, hoping to derail the reigning 2A champions.
The past success of Fyffe is well documented. The 2017 season looks very similar to the last three years, outscoring four opponents 197-6. Coach Paul Benefield has used spring and fall jamboree games in the past to challenge some of the state’s best small school teams. The Red Devils lost to Maplesville 21-7 in the Champions Challenge in Montgomery in August. “Playing good teams shows you your weaknesses,” said Coach Benefield. “We opened the season with an inexperienced offensive line and a good team like Maplesville will expose that. But playing in Montgomery was a good experience for our kids.”
Plainview tabbed one of the state’s best young coaches in Homewood assistant Dustin Goodwin to replace legendary coach Dale Pruitt in 2015. After two 6-5 seasons, Goodwin says his team has gradually progressed. “We are more experienced and are now in the third year in our offensive and defensive systems,” said Coach Goodwin. “We understand the players better and the players are more comfortable with our coaching staff. It just takes time.” He said that his offense can handle more things than two years ago. “We have experience at quarterback and that really helps.” Third year starter Bailey Dukes has made a difference for the Bears, so has a large senior class that Coach Goodwin says “has taken hold of our team.”
Plainview opened the season with an exciting 31-30 victory over a good Sardis team that has victories over Madison Academy and North Jackson. “It was a big win. I was proud of the way we fought in that game,” said Goodwin. “We were outsized up front but we found a way to win.” The offense has been solid, scoring at least 35 points per week after the Sardis victory. The improved Bear offense is obvious to Fyffe. “Plainview has played good defense for the last two or three years,” Coach Benefield said. “But this year they have a better offense with a three year starter at quarterback and 3 or 4 receivers that they can get the ball to.”
Goodwin says that this Fyffe squad is of the same mold of previous teams. “They play very hard and are very well coached. I think they are a little more balanced with what they do on offense this year,” he said. The Red Devil defense had given up only 6 points in four games. Goodwin probably describes it best. “They just get after it on defense.” Bennefield said his defense is not as big as last year. “But we are aggressive and we have a little more speed,” he said.
To upset Fyffe in this battle of unbeatens, the Bears will have to be strong enough and have the will to win the fourth quarter. “Fyffe prides themselves in wearing you down,” said Goodwin about his team’s Sand Mountain rivals. “It’s like a damn breaking. They tend to be very patient and they won’t beat themselves.” Coach Benefield believes that the Plainview game will be a strong challenge for his Red Devils. “This is a mid season test that will tell us a lot about where we are.”
Both coaches expect a big crowd to view the latest edition of this rivalry.