The 2013 season was one that the Dora Bulldogs would like to forget.
The season saw injuries remove key starters from the depth chart and head coach Johnny Wright off of the sideline for a period due to health-related issues. On the plus side, the team was rewarded with valuable experience for backups and a revived spirit to return to deep playoff contention going into 2014.
Dora’s move to Class 5A this year could provide a quick turnaround for the Bulldogs, with powerhouses Calera, Jemison, Bibb County clear of the region schedule. Non-region bouts against Muscle Shoals and Handley have been rotated off as well.
The Bulldogs face just two opponents who had a better than .500 record last season and two opponents that advanced past the first round of the playoffs.
Dora starts the year with its traditional battle at archrival Cordova on Aug. 21. Dora has won the last three games in the series in a lopsided fashion, outscoring the Blue Devils 140-20. Cordova leads the overall series 46-42-2.
Dora plays its first 5A team of the year when it hosts the Mortimer Jordan Blue Devils in Week 2. The Blue Devils finished 2013 with a 4-7 mark and were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. Dora holds an 8-7 record in the series, winning the last meeting, 52-23, in 2005.
Region 5 play begins in Week 3, with Dora hosting the Carver-Birmingham Rams. The Rams’ program has struggled since posting its last winning season in 2003, posting a 13-87 record in the past 10 years, including four winless season and the historic 2007 season where Carver scored just 10 points. Carver and Dora have never met.
The Bulldogs also host a new opponent in the Ramsey Rams in Week 4. The Rams, which restarted their football program after a 36-year absence in 2012, have won just three games during the two-season stretch.
The Bulldogs remain in Region 5 play in Week 5 when they travel to a familiar foe in the Corner Yellow Jackets — who also made the jump to Class 5A. Corner went 5-5 in 2013 under coach Zac Willis, missing the playoffs after back-to-back trips. Dora leads the series, 29-7-2.
The Parrish Tornadoes were scheduled to meet Dora in Week 6, but due to the school’s closure, the spot currently remains vacant. Wright indicated that an opponent will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
Dora returns to region play in Week 7 with a road matchup against the Fairfield Tigers. The Tigers have posted consecutive 5-5 seasons after nine-straight years of making playoff appearances. Fairfield leads the series, 11-7, and won the last meeting, 40-0, in 2009.
The Bulldogs stay on the road in Week 8 for a region battle against the Wenonah Dragons. The Dragons made their second-consecutive playoff appearance last year and finished the season with a 5-6 mark. It will be the sixth meeting between the programs, with Dora holding a 3-2 edge.
Dora faces a formidable challenge in Week 9 when the Bulldogs host the Pleasant Grove Spartans, who posted a 10-2 record last season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. It will be the first meeting between the teams since 1987, when Dora beat Pleasant Grove 49-0. The Bulldogs lead the series, 7-4.
The Bulldogs close the regular season on the road against another tough matchup against the Parker Thundering Herd. Parker advanced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs last year, finishing the year at 8-4. It will be the first meeting for both programs.