Red Bay's Roberts Notches 800th Career Victory


                                                           By KEITH LETBETTER
                                              Red Bay News (Special to the AHSAA)

    Red Bay High School girls coach Donnie Roberts notched the 800th win of his long prep basketball coaching career Jan. 25 as the Lady Tigers beat Colbert Heights 64-37. The Lady Tigers improved to 22-2 this season with the win.
    Roberts, who has compiled an 800-346 overall record in his 41-year coaching career, is now the state’s career wins leader for girls basketball and the first in state history to win 800 games.  He will be inducted into the Alabama High School Athletic Association Sports Hall of Fame in March as a member of the Class of 2014.

   “It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about how fortunate my career has been at Red Bay and the 10 years Icoached at Tremont (Ms.). All I can do is thank the kids that played for me. They had a lot more to do with it than Idid.

   After earning a Master’s Degree from Mississippi State University, he returned to his alma mater, Tremont High School just across the state line from Red Bay and compiled a 142-127 record in the next 10 seasons. Roberts moved to Red Bay in 1983 and began working on the goal of making that first trip to Birmingham for the state playoffs.
    “I came here and took over a team that was 9-11 the year before. We had a real good year that first year and we went 19-5,” Roberts said.

    Roberts, who owns a 658-219 girls coaching record at Red Bay, led the Lady Tigers to state championships in 1987, 1993, 2001 and most recently directed Red Bay to the 2012 Class 2A state finals, a 54-49 loss to Section. Last year Roberts’ team won the Northwest Regional again and lost in the Final 48 semifinals.
     “It takes a combination of things to have a state championship program. It does take coaching, but it also takes pride in our program from our girls.”

      Roberts said that it also takes the involvement of the community.

“Everybody here is involved in it,”said Roberts. They back us and support us. The community likes to see us do well.

      Roberts said that over the years some of the best memories he has is that of having the opportunity to coach both of his daughters, Laura Beth and Leah.

“I think it’s rare to have coached two daughters and to have those two daughters on two different teams win state championships. I can tell you it’s a great experience.”


  Players, coaches and media at Champions Challenge press conference. Champions Challenge Coaches Address Media

     Head coaches for the six teams participating in the seventh annual Champions Challenge preseason high school football triple-header April 24-25 at Cramton Bowl addressed the state’s media at a press conference held Aug. 15 at the AHSAA office.
     While each one said their schools were excited to be a part of the 2012 Champions Challenge, Central of Clay County head coach Steve Giddens went one step farther.
     “We are proud to be opening up our program in the Champions Challenge and at Cramton Bowl,” said Giddens, who compiled a 128-45 record in 14 seasons as Lineville’s head football coach. Lineville and Clay County High Schools have consolidated to form Central of Clay County. The rich tradition of the two schools and the fierce rivalry that was once judged one of the top 10 prep football rivalries in the nation is now uniting into one.
     “I think the best part of this is the unity that is developing in Clay County,” Giddens said. “We had 3,000 to show up at an open house last Sunday at our new school. Unity is our theme right now. It is heartwarming to see.”
     Central, nicknamed the Volunteers, will face Beauregard (10-2) Aug. 25 at 5 p.m. The event opens Aug. 24 with a 7 p.m. contest between Muscle Shoals (11-2) and Spanish Fort (9-4). The final game, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25, pits McGill-Toolen (11-2) and Northridge (10-2).
     Lineville finished 10-4 last season and reached the Class 2A state semifinals. Clay County was 12-2 and reached the 3A semifinals. Beauregard coach Smitty Grider, who led the 2011 Hornets to their first 10-win season in history, said he was glad to play in the Champions Challenge. However, he said when he learned the opponent would be Central of Clay County he had some reservations.
     “I told my principal about it and he asked me if I had lost my mind,” said Grider. “I thought that two plus three (referring to the classifications of Lineville and Clay County) equaled five, not four.”
Central is classified as a Class 4A school in the program’s inaugural season.
All joking aside, he said his team is eager to face the challenge.
     “It is such an honor to play in a game like this,” he said. “It is also an honor to be the first opponent against this new program. We are treating this like our season opener.”
Muscle Shoals is coached by Scott Basden, Spanish Fort by Mark Freeman, Northridge by Michael Smith and McGill-Toolen by Bart Sessions. Sessions coached in the Champions Challenge twice as defensive coordinator for Prattville. All six coaches addressed the media Wednesday.


Schedule: Muscle Shoals vs. Spanish Fort, 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 24
Central of Clay County vs. Beauregard, 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25
Northridge vs. McGill-Toolen, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25

Where: Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.
Tickets: $10 each day. Available at Cramton Bowl on game day.
TV: WSFA TV (Raycom) will televise/web-stream all three games live over the AHSAA TV/Internet Network.
Radio: The AHSAA State Radio Network will broadcast all three games live over its network of affiliates. CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE HISTORY

Hueytown 36, Thomasville 27

Hamilton 38, Sweet Water 35

Daphne 24, Clay-Chalkville 21


Opelika 34, Greenville 6

Auburn 30, Spain Park 3

Jackson 30, Trinity 8


Prattville 37, Carver-Montgomery 0

T.R. Miller 27, Leeds 7

Hoover 32, Oxford 27


Prattville vs. Oxford, canceled due to inclement weather


Prattville 36, North Gwinnett, Ga. 3


Hoover 38, UMS-Wright 0

Clay-County 41, Addison 6