MONTGOMERY – Pinson Valley High School senior quarterback Bo Nix was named the Alabama Sportswriters Association’s Mr. Football recipient for the 20128 season Tuesday at the annual ASWA Player of the Year Luncheon at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
AHSAA Corporate Partner Cadence Bank was the presenting sponsor, and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) hosted the luncheon.
Nix, who was also selected for the second straight year as the Class 6A Back of the Year, beat out Class 7A Back of the Year Taulia Tagovailoa of Thompson in the Mr. Football voting – becoming the 37th Mr. Football selected in the ASWA’s long-running program which began in 1982.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Nix directed Pinson Valley to a 13-1 record in 2018 and a 15-0 slate in 2017 – earning Super 7 Class 6A state championship game MVP honors both years as the Indians won back-to-back state championships. He was 25-of-35 passing for 372 yards, one rushing TD and two passing touchdowns in the 6A 26-17 win over Saraland in the finals played at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
An Auburn signee already enrolled at AU for this semester, he completed 267-of-447 passes for 3,795 yards and 50 touchdowns as a senior and finished as the AHSAA’s all-time career total offense leader (12,497 yards) and touchdowns accounted for (161) – 127 TD passes and 34 rushing TDs with more than 2,000 career rushing yards.
Nix played at Scottsboro High School from 2015-2017 and moved to Pinson when his dad became the Pinson head coach prior to the 2017 season. He started at QB for 2½ years for the Wildcats. He finished his career ranked second in career passing yards (10,386), first in career pass attempts (1,223), second in completions (687) and third in TD passes thrown (127). His 50 TD passes as a senior ranks third in the AHSAA all-time.
Nix was named an All-American by USA Today (first team) and MaxPreps (second team), was the ALcom Super All-State Player of the Year and the Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year. He was selected and played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and Armour All-America Game following completion of the 2018 season.
He was the Mr. Football runner-up last season to another Auburn signee, Asa Martin. He becomes the 11th Auburn signee to win the state’s top honor. He is the first Birmingham-area winner since Huffman’s Andre Smith in 2005.
A total of 48 players, three linemen and three backs in each of the AHSAA’s seven classifications and the AISA, were honored at Tuesday’s luncheon. Tagovailoa was unable to attend the luncheon. He was in Hawaii preparing for the Polynesian All-Star Classic football game. He is enrolling early at the University of Alabama.
Clay Webb of Oxford, named the Class 6A Lineman of the Year and third in the Mr. Football voting, was also absent. The Georgia signee is already attending classes at UGA.
Named 2018 Back of the Year in the AHSAA’s respective classes were: Class 7A: Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Thompson; Class 6A: Bo Nix, QB, Pinson Valley; Class 5A: Javonta Leartherwood, RB, Central-Tuscaloosa; Class 4A: Lee Witherspoon, RB, North Jackson; Class 3A: Daquan Johnson, QB, Flomaton; Class 2A: Samario Rudolph, RB, Cottage Hill Christian; Class 1A: Jermaine Brown, QB, St. Luke’s Episcopal.
Selected 2018 Lineman of the Year in respective classes were: Class 7A: Pierce Quick, OL, Hewitt-Trussville; Class 6A: Clay Webb, OL, Oxford; Class 5A: Fred Austin, DL, Vigor; Class 4A: Will Breland, LB, UMS-Wright; Class 3A: Ja’Len Sims, LB, Fultondale; Class 2A: Arian Gregory, LB, Luverne; Class 1A: Jah-Marien Lathiam, DL, and Pickens County.
The ASWA SUPER ALL-STATE Team selected by the ASWA All-State and Mr. Football Committee of prep sportswriters across the state, was also announced following the luncheon. That team included, the top 12 players, regardlss of classification:
Bo Nix, QB, Pinson Valley; Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Thompson; Clay Webb, OL, Oxford; Lee Witherspoon, RB, North Jackson; George Pickens, WR, Hoover; Roydell Williams, RB, Hueytown; Pierce Quick, OL, Hewitt-Trussville; Mahamoud Diabate, DE, Auburn; Darrian Meads, RB, Hokes Bluff; Daquan Johnson, QB, Flomaton; Vonta Bentley, LB, Jackson-Olin; and D.J. Dale, DL, Clay-Chalkville.
ASWA 2018 Player of the Year Finalists
Te'Darrian Murray, Lee-Montgomery
George Pickens, Hoover
Taulia Tagovailoa, Thompson, Alabaster
Daevion Davis, James Clemens, Madison
Mohamoud Diabate, Auburn
Pierce Quick, Hewitt-Trussville
Bo Nix, Pinson Valley
Tyquan Rawls, Wetumpka
Roydell Williams, Hueytown
Vonta Bentley, Jackson-Olin, Birmingham
D.J. Dale, Clay-Chalkville
Clay Webb, Oxford
Zaye Boyd, Russellville
Javonta Leatherwood, Central-Tuscaloosa
C.J. Yarbrough, East Limestone
Fredrick Austin, Vigor, Prichard
Jamin Graham, Etowah, Attalla
Mark Hand, Briarwood Christian
J.J. Evans, Montevallo
Darrian Meads, Hokes Bluff
Lee Witherspoon, North Jackson, Stevenson
Will Breland, UMS-Wright, Mobile
C.J. Person, Catholic-Montgomery
James Waller, American Christian, Tuscaloosa
Tony Amerson, St. James, Montgomery
Daquan Johnson, Flomaton
Ian Thies, Westminster Christian, Huntsville
Ricky Samuel, T.R. Miller, Brewton
Ja'Len Sims, Fultondale
Sean Smith, Piedmont
Payton Anderson, Fyffe
Jaquon Kincey, Abbeville
Samario Rudolph, Cottage Hill Christian, Mobile
Karron Daffin, Leroy
Arian Gregory, Luverne
Caleb Lyles, Fyffe
Graderius Brown, Linden
Jermaine Brown, St. Luke's Episcopal, Mobile
Kristian Story, Lanett
Jah-Marien Latham, Pickens County, Reform
Colt Smith, Mars Hill Bible, Florence
Tristen Thetford, Maplesville
ASWA Mr. Football Award
Recipients by year
2018 Bo Nix, Pinson Valley, quarterback
2017 Asa Martin, Austin, running back
2016 La'Damian Webb, Beauregard, running back
2015 Tyler Johnston, Spanish Fort, quarterback
2014 Kerryon Johnson, Madison Academy, running back
2013 Racean “Roc” Thomas, Oxford, running back
2012 Jeremy Johnson, Carver-Montgomery, quarterback
2011 T.J. Yeldon, Daphne, running back
2010 Jamal Golden, Wetumpka, quarterback
2009 Coty Blanchard, Cherokee County, quarterback
2008 Clint Moseley, Leroy, quarterback
2007 Julio Jones, Foley, wide receiver
2006 Larry Smith, Prattville, quarterback
2005 Andre Smith, Huffman, offensive lineman
2004 Jarod Bryant, Hoover, quarterback
2003 Chris Nickson, Pike County, quarterback
2002 JaMarcus Russell, Williamson, quarterback
2001 Brandon Cox, Hewitt-Trussville, quarterback
2000 Carnell Williams, Etowah, running back
1999 Cory Whisenant, Springville, running back
1998 DeMarco McNeil, Blount, defensive lineman
1997 Mac Campbell, Alexandria, running back
1996 Antoneyo Williams, Central-Tuscaloosa, running back
1995 Gorman Thornton, Jeff Davis, tight end
1994 Dawud Rasheed, Shades Valley, running back
1993 Thomas Banks, West Jefferson, running back
1992 Freddie Kitchens, Etowah, quarterback
1991 Robert Davis, Homewood, running back
1990 David Palmer, Jackson-Olin, running back/wide receiver
1989 Steven Coleman, Pike County, running back
1988 Darrell Williams, Vigor, running back
1987 Robert Jones, Parker, running back
1986 Larry Ware, Lee-Montgomery, running back
1985 Pierre Goode, Hazlewood, running back
1984 Roderick Green, Gardendale, wide receiver
1983 Freddie Weygand, Emma Sansom, wide receiver
1982 Tommy Compton, Vigor, quarterback
MONTGOMERY -- Camryn Crider sank 13 of the 22 3-point goals she attempted to tie the AHSAA girls’ single-game state record in the Lady Eagles’ 74-58 win over Cleveland on December 7. She opened the new year with eight in an 84-20 win over Southeastern on Jan, 8 as Coach Tammy West’s team grabbed the AHSAA Prep Basketball Spotlight for the second time this season.
Crider, who tied four others with her 13 treys versus Cleveland, sank seven in the first quarter for 21 of her 39 points in that win. She also had eight 3-point goals in the victory over Southeastern. She now shares the single-game mark with Erica Smith of Belgreen (2011), Jordan Dollar of Russellville (2007); Heather Morris of Vestavia Hills (1995); and Heather Mayes of Fyffe (1994).
Cold Springs beat Southeastern with 17 treys on 33 attempts – an amazing 51.5 percent accuracy rate from beyond the 3-point arc. Kinley Campbell added three 3-pointers and Neely Ellison, Toni West and Kylon Hamby two each. Southeastern had four – giving both teams 21 total. Kasandra Soto had three and Andrea Zamoro one.
The Lady Eagles had 19 treys overall in the Cleveland win to tie the school record set in 2009. The Panthers had five. The 24 3-pointers by both teams set an AHSAA single-game record. The old mark (21) was set by Brilliant in a 2016 82-78 win over Vina and tied by Cold Springs and Southeastern earlier this week.
The state record (20) was set by Locust Fork in a 95-36 win over J.B. Pennington in the 2017-18 season. Three schools have had 19 – with Cold Springs the only school to complete the feat twice. The Eagles had 19 in an 88-80 victory over Addison in 1999; Clay-Chalkville had 19 in a 79-43 victory over Ardmore in 2008; and North Sand Mountain canned 19 in a 97-13 win over Whitesburg Christian in 2010.
Cold Springs is the only school in state history to have four games with 17 or more 3-pointers in a single game. West’s teams have now had 19 twice and 17 twice.
In other highlights reported over the Christmas break and first week of 2019:
PRIDE BECOMES FIRST FORMER PLAYER TO WIN CLASSIC AS COACH: Howard Pride, the boys’ basketball coach at Mae Jemison High School, became the first person in the Huntsville City Classic tournament’s 36-year history to win the Classic title as a player and a coach when the Jaguars defeated Columbia 75-65 in the finals in late December.
Pride, a former Alabama Mr. Basketball who is in his first season as head coach for the Jaguars, won three Classic titles with Butler during the early 1990s while playing under Coach Jack Doss. Tony Toney recorded 25 points, six rebounds and three blocks to lead the Jags in the finals.
HARDING CAPTURES 400TH CAREER WIN: Albertville’s 63-42 win over Scottsboro on Jan. 8 at AHS’s Hambrick Hall notched the 400th Albertville victory for Coach Patrick Harding. Harding, who has coached 472 wins in his prep coaching career spanning more than 20 years, won his 400th game as a coach in 2015 when Albertville beat the Wildcats 58-48 at Hambrick Hall. He had 72 wins prior to starting his 20-year coaching run at Albertville. The Aggies are now 13-6 this season with six wins in the last seven games. Trinity Bell had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots in the Aggies’ win.
SEGARS SETS PRATTVILLE CHRISTIAN ASSIST RECORD: Guard Gen Segars dished out six assists in a 60-19 win over Trinity Presbyterian to become the school’s career assist leader. He upped his career total to 294 to eclipse the record (291) set by Wyatt Jennings, who graduated in 2017. Segars also had 11 points in the win.
JAKE HALL TOPS 1,000 POINTS: The Shoals Christian guard had 25 points in a 67-49 loss to Waterloo and went over 1,000 points for his high school career in the process.
LUE WILLIAMS, ESCAMBIA COUNTY: Had 14 points and eight rebounds for Escambia County (9-1) in a 68-40 win over Flomaton. The points put him over 1,000 for his prep career.
PARKER DRIGGERS, BRANTLEY: Sank a bucket at the buzzer to give Brantley a 67-65 win over Florala. He finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Teammate Tucker Kilcrease had 25 points and 10 rebounds.
KAILEY RIRY, OAK MOUNTAIN: Nailed a 3-pointer at end of regulation to the game with McAdory and the Lady Eagles responded by posting a 61-52 win in overtime. She finished with 10 points and teammate Hannah Edwards posted 32.
LOGAN PADGETT, HOMEWOOD: Nailed a clutch put-back at the buzzer in overtime to send the game into its second extra period and finished with 12 points as the Patriots beat Oak Mountain 40-36 to win the Homewood Metro Tourney. He earned MVP of the tourney in the process.
GARRETT HICKS, JAMES CLEMENS: Nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, his seventh of the night, to lift the Jets to a 59-56 win over Athens. He finished with 33 points, seven assists and was 7-of-10 shooting from the 3-point zone.
TYLER EUBANKS, SPANISH FORT: Scored 19 points, including sinking a free throw with eight seconds remaining in overtime to seal a 76-72 win over Baker. It was the sixth straight win for the Toros. Kirston Davis had four 3-pointers and finished with 31 points for the Hornets.
SRJDAN PETROVIC, HOUSTON ACADEMY: Fired a shot from just inside the mid-court line at the buzzer to lift the Raiders to a dramatic 32-30 win over Pike County. He inbounded the ball under the Pike County goal to a teammate with 4.9 seconds left and got a pass back before dribbling downcourt for the game-winning shot. He led HA with 14 points.
KATE ANDREWS, HOUSTON ACADEMY: In the girls’ game, Andrews scored twice in the final minute to spark the Lady Raiders to a 49-47 win over Pike County. She had 14 points on the night.
OTHER TOP PERFORMANCES
TRENDON WATFORD, MOUNTAIN BROOK: The senior had 38 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Spartans past nationally-ranked IMG Academy 72-67 in the City of Palms Classic at Fort Myers (FL) during the Christmas break. He also had 18 points and 10 rebounds in a 63-62 loss to De La Salle (MN) and scored 29 in an 89-44 win over Mitchell (S.D.) at the Hoop City Classic in South Dakota to close out the Christmas break. He opened 2019 with 30 points and 17 rebounds as Mountain Brook beat Hoover 63-49.
TOMMY MURR, LINDSAY LANE: Scored 47 points to lead Lindsay Lane to a 77-70 victory over Skyline. Collin Lockhard had 32 for Skyline.
JACOB HOPPER, SARDIS: Had 32 points and 20 rebounds in s 66-63 double-overtime win versus Douglas.
BRANDON GREEN, PHILLIPS: Scored 31 points as the Bears topped Brilliant 75-41.
D.J. BROWN, WILLIAMSON: Had 25 points, five assists and three steals as the Lions downed Gulf Shores 69-64. He also had 17 points, six assists and two steals in an earlier win over Alma Bryant.
TRINITY BELL, ALBERTVILLE: Recorded 26 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the Aggies’ 79-71 win over Fort Payne.
AUSTON LESLIE, WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN: Had 27 points as the Wildcats beat Madison County 51-35.
MATTHEW McNEECE, McGILL-TOOLEN CATHOLIC: Had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Jackets past Spanish Fort 68-52.
MARTAVIUS PAYTON, GEORGIANA: Scored 22 points and cleared 16 rebounds as the Panthers beat McKenzie 83-51.
MALIK McCLAIN, DAPHNE: Posted 19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocked shots in a 72-52 win over Robertsdale.
MATTHEW LANZI, CHELSEA: Was 12-of-14 at the foul line and finished with 20 points as the Hornets beat host UMS-Wright 55-44 to reach the finals of the William Mitchell Memorial Tourney at Mobile. He added 11 points in the finals as Chelsea beat Jackson 40-35 to win the championship.
ELSIE HARRIS, B.C. RAIN: Totaled 37 points and four steals in a 59-29 win over Daphne.
KAROLINE STRIPLIN, GENEVA COUNTY: Scored 36 points as the Bulldogs beat Cottonwood 70-24.
RODRECKIA PARKER, SELMA: Had 31 points as the Saints beat Foley 60-59 in the Dwight Madison Christmas Classic.
KRISTIN BROWN, CARVER-MONTGOMERY: Totaled 32 points and seven rebounds in the Wolverines’ 70-55 win over Park Crossing. Teammate Bri’Anna Rhodes also contributed 21 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
EMILY HENDERSON, MOUNTAIN BROOK: Had 30 points as the Spartans downed Dr. Krop (FL) 77-63 in the Holiday Basketball Classic at West Palm Beach (FL) in December. Mountain finished 3-1 in the tourney.
RIVER BALDWIN, PLEASANT HOME: Tallied 34 points and 16 rebounds as the Eagles beat South Walton (FL) 47-38.
BREE GRIFFIN, GOSHEN: Had 26 points and seven assists in the Eagles’ 48-22 win over Highland Home.
AALIYAH AUSTIN, FAITH ACADEMY: Aaliyah Austin scored 23 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Rams in a 50-44 win over Harrison Central (MS).
NYA VALENTINE, McGILL-TOOLEN CATHOLIC: Had 17 points in a 53-40 win over Booker T. Washington.
DESTINY SANDERS, FAITH ACADEMY: Scored 21 points and cleared 18 rebounds as Faith Academy downed Vigor 55-43.
JAKIYA JACKSON, FOLEY: Sparked the Lions to a 59-38 win over Baldwin County with 22 points and also had 16 in a win over Robertsdale.
TATIYANNA DAVIS, LEE-HUNTSVILLE: Had 10 points, 12 rebounds and five steals to lead the Lady Generals to a 68-29 win over Bob Jones.
MACIE WILLIAMS, SOUTHSIDE-GADSDEN: Had 24 points and 11 rebounds as the Lady Panthers beat Etowah 54-38.
As President of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control, I would like to address the numerous stories being circulated regarding a recent eligibility ruling assessed to a student-athlete attending Charles Henderson High School (CHHS). Several facts involved in the ruling have either been misstated or ignored; therefore, I feel the need to provide the following details:
No one (including USA Basketball or CHHS) disputes the Amateur Rule was violated. On August 15, 2018, USA Basketball paid the student $857.20 for lost wages while participating with the USA Basketball team over the past summer. Neither USA Basketball, the student’s parents, the student’s coach, nor CHHS administration reported the student had received the check until three months later, (specifically 91 days). During this time, the student played in several games. The AHSAA Amateur Rule states in part “A student cannot accept payment for loss of time or wages while participating in athletics as part of expenses . . . A student who has lost his/her amateur standing may be reinstated after the lapse of one high school season for the sport in which he/she has become professional . . .”
The check ($857.20) paid to the student was dated August 15, 2018, and endorsed by the student and posted to the student’s bank account on August 27, 2018. The student’s mother sent USA Basketball a check in the same amount three months later on November 28, 2018.
The student’s mother is a certified AHSAA Basketball Coach; therefore, she is required to uphold current AHSAA bylaws and rules, including the Amateur Rule quoted above. Furthermore, the Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at CHHS is a former member of the AHSAA Central Board of Control; thus, she should not only appreciate the importance of knowing and following the AHSAA bylaws and eligibility rules but also understand how imperative it is to consistently uphold the same rules.
Steve Savarese, as AHSAA Executive Director, made the eligibility ruling based upon the plain language of the Amateur Rule. As Executive Director, Mr. Savarese does not have the authority to change a rule. Rather, as Executive Director, his job is to apply the rules as written.
Following Mr. Savarese’s ruling, the school appealed to both appellate levels for the AHSAA. First, to the District 2 Board – affirmed by unanimous vote of the 4-member Board. Next, to the Central Board of Control - affirmed by unanimous vote of the 15-member Board which represents the entire State. Thus, this ruling was affirmed by the Board that under the AHSAA Constitution has complete and final jurisdiction over all questions of the Constitution and Bylaws or other facts appealed to it by a member school. Mr. Savarese was not present at the District appeal or during deliberation at the Central Board hearing. To be clear, this ruling was affirmed by the Central Board of Control and as Executive Director, Mr. Savarese does not have the authority to change or reverse a ruling made by the Central Board.
Also, please remember, the AHSAA member schools, not Mr. Savarese nor the AHSAA staff, write and approve the AHSAA eligibility rules which include the Amateur Rule.
The AHSAA Legislative Council has the authority each year at the annual meeting to amend the AHSAA Constitution and Rules. Meaning, each year the member schools (including Charles Henderson High School) have an opportunity to change a rule or create new ones. The penalty for violating the Amateur Rule has not been amended in at least the past 10 years with Mr. Savarese as Executive Director. Which, in turn, means each year Charles Henderson High School has agreed to the penalty for violating this Rule without comment or pursuing any kind of rule change within the legislative process.
Each year these Rules are reviewed multiple times during AHSAA sponsored and hosted seminars with the member schools and are available on the AHSAA website. A review of all Summer Conference and Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conference attendees show the Principal for Charles Henderson High School has not attended the 2016, 2017, or 2018 Summer Conferences or the 2016, 2017 or 2018 Principals’ and Athletic Directors’ Conferences.
The stories and comments being circulated throughout the media and social networks are asking that an exception be made to the Amateur Rule because it was not the student’s fault; the fact the money was repaid, and that the student is an exceptional athlete and will miss her senior year. However, if exceptions are made, there would no longer be a need for an Amateur Rule. The Rules are applied equally to ALL athletes. Furthermore, most eligibility violations are the result of adults failing to follow the rules. Here, the student’s mother as a certified AHSAA Coach should know the rules; the School’s Principal should know the rules, the Head Basketball Coach, as not only a Coach but also as a former Central Board member, should know the rules.
Another point not mentioned in the public stories being circulated is that creating an exception to this Rule would have provided an avenue to exploit student-athletes by providing an opportunity for students to receive money and prizes for athletic participation and if discovered, state they didn’t know the rule, thus allowing them to return the items and retain eligibility. This is why AHSAA stresses to the leadership of its member schools how important it is to know the rules and advise their students regarding all rules that affect eligibility. Informing student-athletes of the consequences for violating such rules is the responsibility of the adults supervising them.
It should be pointed out that a high school student from Illinois also received payment from USA Basketball. However, that student called her high school once she received the check and then returned the check to USA Basketball without cashing or depositing it. Here, the student received the check, endorsed it and it was posted to her bank account. Three months later, AHSAA was notified and the monies returned to USA Basketball.
A high school student from Missouri has also been ruled ineligible for this basketball season for accepting the lost wages payment from USA Basketball.
USA Basketball never called Charles Henderson High School or AHSAA to ask if payment for lost wages violated AHSAA rules until November which was three months after payment was made and accepted by the student. This was not a clerical error but a complete lack of administrative oversight on the part of USA Basketball, thus possibly rendering multiple student-athletes ineligible as most states have an Amateur Rule.
Lastly, misstated facts and placing Mr. Savarese’s email on social media has led to Mr. Savarese and the AHSAA staff receiving threatening, irresponsible, and vulgar communications.
We, as the Central Board of Control, stand by the staff of the AHSAA and thank them for their unwavering support of the AHSAA mission, educational athletics, as well as the AHSAA Constitution and Bylaws.
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Instant Replay program designed and administered by DVSport concluded its first season with the Super 7 State Championships at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Twelve challenges were made by teams in the seven championship games with four calls overturned and one other reversal was administered based on an automatic review of a scoring play for a 38.5% reversal rate. All scoring plays and potential scoring plays were reviewed automatically by the reviewed in the championship games.
For the year, DVSport Instant Replay was utilized by 96 different schools in 103 games for a total of 203 opportunities. The final tally showed 96 challenges and 23 calls on the field overturned – a percentage of 25.0%.
District 5 had 21 schools use Instant Replay and District 8 had 18. All districts had teams participate in games with Instant Replay. Class 6A had 24 schools participate in at least one contest using Instant Replay and Class 7A had 23 of it 32 teams participate.
AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese and AHSAA former Director of Officials Greg Brewer began working on implement ting Instant Replay in 2013 – when NFHS rules changed to allow the technology on the sideline for the coaches. The National Federation State High School Associations (NFHS) granted permission to the AHSAA to experiment with instant replay for a beginning with the 2018 season. The AHSAA, thanks in big part to the leadership of current Director of Officials Mark Jones, partnered with DVSport to implement instant replay in the regular season as well as post season play. DVSport equipment is required in Alabama for instant replay.
“Our first year of the experiment exceeded our expectations,” Jones said. “It was demonstrated that instant replay can work with the limited camera angles we have available. Most games usually two camera angles: one from the sideline (press box) and the other from the end zone.”
Jones said that during the state championships, the AHSAA was able to utilize the same equipment used by Auburn University during its home games. That equipment is also provided by DVSports. That allowed a review of all scoring or potential scoring plays from the booth without requiring a challenge by either coach.
“Forward progress or spot of the ball was reversed three times at the Super 7,” Jones said. There was a fumble call that was reversed to an incomplete pass along with one touchdown pass reversed to an incomplete pass upon review. Spotting of the ball was challenged six times, fumbles were challenged 4 times, and incomplete passes 2 times.”
The AHSAA also had the opportunity to demonstrate Instant Replay to the nation via one nationally televised game on ESPN and through numerous games live-streamed by the NFHS Network.
“The use of instant replay had insignificant impact on the length of the games,” Jones added. “Average replays took between 90 seconds to two minutes to review.”
Jones said that three times during the season a touchdown pass or incomplete pass in the end zone were overturned. Fumbles and forward progress made up 70 percent of the challenges. Others included: backward passes, breaking the goal-line plane, touching, out-of-bounds spots and player ejection.
TOTAL SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING
District Exposure Breakdown
District Schools Opportunities
D-1 16 29
D-2 3 3
D-3 11 15
D-4 9 39
D-5 21 39
D-6 6 17
D-7 11 21
D-8 18 39
Out-of-State 1 1
TOTAL 96 203
Class Exposure Breakdown
Class Schools Opportunities
1A 7 13
2A 3 4
3A 8 14
4A 16 26
5A 14 29
6A 24 52
7A 23 64
Out-of-State 1 1
TOTAL 96 203
INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS PARTICIPATING
(*-state championship game)
Class 1A District Games
Hackleburg D-7 6
Hubbertville D-7 1
Linden D-3 1*
Mars Hill Bible D-7 1*
Phillips D-7 1
Sweet Water D-3 2
Waterloo D-7 1
Class 2A District Games
Fyffe D-8 1*
Luverne D-2 1*
Tanner D-8 2
Class 3A District Games
Bayside Academy D-1 1
Excel D-1 1
Flomaton D-1 2*
Hanceville D-8 1
Phil Campbell D-7 1
Piedmont D-6 1*
Pike County D-2 1
Thomasville D-1 6
Class 4A District Games
B.T. Washington D-4 1
Clarke County D-1 1
Cordova D-5 1
Deshler D-7 1*
Elmore County D-4 1
Good Hope D-8 6
Haleyville D-7 1
Handley D-6 5
Jacksonville D-6 1
Leeds D-5 1
Oak Grove D-5 1
Rogers D-7 2
Sumter Central D-3 1
Trinity Presbyterian D-3 1
UMS-Wright D-1 1*
West Limestone D-8 1
Class 5A District Games
Ardmore D-8 1
Boaz D-8 1
Brewer D-8 1
Central-Clay County D-6 3*
Corner D-5 1
East Limestone D-8 9
Guntersville D-8 1
Jackson D-1 1
Jasper D-5 1
Lawrence County D-7 5
Madison Academy D-8 1
Vigor D-1 2*
West Point D-8 1
Wilcox Central D-3 1
Class 6A District Games
Athens D-8 1
Benjamin Russell D-4 2
Buckhorn D-8 1
Calera D-5 1
Carver-Montgomery D-3 1
Daphne D-1 1
Decatur D-8 4
Helena D-5 1
Huffman D-5 1
Jackson-Olin D-5 1
Minor D-5 2
Northridge D-5 1
Opelika D-4 8
Oxford D-6 6
Park Crossing D-3 2
Pell City D-6 1
MONTGOMERY – Central-Phenix City High School girls’ basketball coach Carolyn Wright reached a special milestone on December 8. Her Lady Red Devils’ basketball team beat Russell County 80-24 to notch the 500th win over her high school coaching career.
That puts her in special company – with her husband Bobby Wright, who has won more than 600 games in his fabled coaching career as the Central-Phenix City boys’ basketball coach. They now are officially the only husband-wife coaching tandem to reach the 500-win mark as head coaches in the same sport. Combined, they have more wins in the sport of basketball than any other husband-wife tandem in AHSAA history.
The milestone victory landed Coach Wright and squad squarely in the week’s AHSAA Girls’ Basketball Spotlight.
Central is currently 6-4 this season. Coach Wright opened the year with a 498-281 record. Since she became the head coach at Central in 1991, she has taken many other duties including assistant athletic director and department chair of the school’s health and PE department. Her 2016-17 team finished 26-4 and won the Central Regional title earning Central a trip to the AHSAA Class 7A State Tourney at the BJCC.
Win No. 500 didn’t come easily. The young team opened the year with three straight losses before beating Spencer (GA) and Russell County. Morgan Ficklin had 14 points and Eryn Johnson added 11 in the 500th win.
“It has been a long road to get to this point in my career,” she told Citizen of East Alabama sportswriter Mark Clark. “To win 500 games is special. I could not have won that many games without the help of a lot of good coaches and a lot of good players. They are the reason I have made it to 500 wins.”
Coach Wright learned in November that she has been selected for induction into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019. The banquet will be next March. That will add another feather in the caps of this amazing coaching couple. Her husband was inducted in 2015. They will became just the second husband-wife tandem to be enshrined into that esteemed hall. The first were legendary football coach Tom Calvin and his wife and longtime cheer/gymnastics coach Lynette Calvin.
IN THE CLUTCH
CORY SANDLIN, CENTRAL COOSA: Sank a key bucket and free throw in the second overtime to lift the Cougars (8-1) past Benjamin Russell 82-75 in double overtime. Jovan Richardson added 27 points with 12 in the fourth quarter.
JESSE KINSEY, HEADLAND: Made two steals in the last 10 seconds, one leading to a K’shun Stokes go-ahead score, to help the Rams earn a 57-55 win over Dale County in the Daleville Christmas Tournament. Stokes finished with 23 points to earn MVP honors while Kinsey had 11. Stokes also had 22 points and nine steals in a 47-38 win over Carroll.
BRAXTON WHITEHEAD, G.W. LONG: Totaled 18 points and 10 rebounds and teammate Caison Long added 17 points and 12 rebounds as the Rebels rallied to beat Samson 50-38. Long trailed 38-34 heading into the final quarter and outscored the Tigers 16-0 in the final period to take the come-from-behind win.
ALEX ODAM, PIEDMONT: The eighth grader had 21 points, including two key free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining, to lift Piedmont to a 46-45 overtime win over White Plains. He finished 4-for-4 at the foul line.
MARTAVAIS BURTON, LAFAYETTE: The junior forward had 16 points and 12 rebounds in a 66-56 win over Valley at the Handley Invitational tourney to help the Bulldogs of Coach Obadiah Threadgill IV improve to 12-0 on the season. Burton also had 15 points and eight rebounds as the Class 2A Bulldogs clawed back from a double-digit deficit to beat Class 6A Opelika 58-55.
OTHER TOP PERFORMANCES
J.P. ROBINSON, DESHLER: The senior guard had 34 points in wins over Rogers and Russellville and 25 in a victory over Central-Florence to average 31 points per game over the three-win stretch.
DAKARAI PELTON, GOSHEN: Scored 33 of the Eagles’ 56 points in a 56-43 win over Brantley. He also had 11 rebounds, eight steals and six assists.
EVAN KELLER, OHATCHEE: Scored 34 points with four treys in a 77-57 win over Ragland. He has scored 71 points with 10 3-pointers in his last three games.
ROBERT GAINES, WEAVER: Tallied 27 points and DeAndre McCain added 25 in the Bearcats’ 81-40 win over Walter Wellborn. McCain had four 3-pointers.
TREY BONHAM, UMS-WRIGHT: Had 31 points, including 26 in the first half, as UMS-Wight beat Mobile Christian 80-58. He also scored 21 points, all in the first half, in the Bulldogs’ 80-41 win over Alma Bryant.
AVERY THRASHER, MARS HILL BIBLE: Averaged 30.6 points in Panther wins over Waterloo, Wilson and Cherokee. He scored 33 points against Waterloo, 30 versus Cherokee and 29 in the win over Wilson.
KRISTON DAVIS, BAKER: Scored 31 points to help the Hornets, who trailed by 16 in the second quarter, rally to win 61-50 over Mary Montgomery. Davis got half his points on five 3-point goals. Baker made 10 overall.
MARK SEARS, MUSCLE SHOALS: Had 30 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists in a win over Sparkman and averaged 22.8 points per game for the week in three games.
JARED BOLDEN, EAST LAWRENCE: Canned 30 points in a 10-point win over Phil Campbell.
ALEX WRIGHT, ELBA: Had 16 points and 16 rebounds in a 62-41 win over Geneva.
JAY TRAWICK, REHOBETH: Had 32 points in a 75-63 setback to Wicksburg. Devontae White paced the winners with 26 points.
TY HUTTO, LAWRENCE COUNTY: The guard had a triple double with 10 assists, 10 steals and 12 points in a win over Hatton.
JOSH BIRDSONG, AUSTIN: Recorded 22 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots in a 15-point win over Athens.
SETH FORD, DONOHO: Sank six of his team’s 13 3-point goals and finished with 24 points and teammate Amari Smedley had 25 points as Donoho fell to Jacksonville Christian 95-85. JCA had four treys – giving both teams 17 combined. Chase Vinson had 23 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots for JCA (9-3).
MONTGOMERY – Practices have concluded and both a squads appear to fine-tuned and ready for the 2018 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic which kicks off Monday night at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl at 6:30 p.m.
The two 40-man squads had two short workouts Sunday before gathering Sunday night at the Cramton Bowl Multi-Plex for the annual Player-Parent Banquet. Honorary Alabama team captain former Alabama All-Star and NFL standout Wallace Gilberry addressed the crowd Sunday night as well as Mississippi honorary captain Jerious Nortwood. Both played in the Alabama-Mississippi Classic. Gilberry attended Baldwin County High School in Bay Minette. He spent 10 seasons in the NFL before retiring at the end of the 2017 season. Norwood, who attended Brandon High School near Jackson (MS), finished his collegiate career as the second-leading rusher in Mississippi State history and then spent six seasons in the NFL.
Alabama holds a 22-9 edge in the 32nd annual Classic, which will be televised Raycom Media over its affiliate stations in Alabama, Mississippi, Columbus (GA) and Memphis (TN) as well as other stations in cities like Mobile where no Raycom affiliated is currently operating.
More than 30 players in the game are headed to the SEC or other major college teams next fall. AHSADCA Director Jamie Lee said both teams have had a good week. “We have two talented squads who made an even bigger impression by how both squads have conducted themselves this week.”
Alabama is 5-0 in games played at Cramton Bowl. Mississippi is 2-0 in games played at Hattiesburg, including last year’s 42-7 win. Alabama also compiled a 17-6 record in games played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and Mississippi won the only game played at Troy University’s Veterans Stadium.
The AHSAA Radio Network also plans to broadcast the game live over its statewide network of radio and internet affiliates. The link will be available at www.ahsaa.com. For more information concerning TV coverage, go to the following link:
For ticket information, go to the following link:
GoFan is providing digital tickets for the contest at the following link:
MONTGOMERY – Alabama All-Star head coach Josh Niblett of Hoover High School cut short the team’s Thursday afternoon practice at Faulkner University when heavy showers forced the team inside.
The weather didn’t dampen Niblett’s enthusiasm for this year’s 40-man squad preparing to take on Mississippi’s All-Stars next Monday in the 32nd annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic at Cramton Bowl. The contest kicks off a 6:30 p.m. and will be televised over Raycom Media’s affiliate stations in Alabama, Mississippi, Columbus (GA) and Memphis (TN) as well as other stations outside Raycom in cities like Mobile where no Raycom affiliated currently reside.
“The kids came in ready to go to work (Wednesday) and they were still excited (Friday),” Niblett said. “There is a lot of competition going on in practice and the kids are picking up what we coaches are trying to teach them really well.”
Alabama’s team suffered a blow Wednesday when Jeff Davis linebacker/defensive end Brandon Mack suffered an injury and will be unable to participate in the game Monday night. Niblett’s coaching staff found his replacement quickly with the addition of Auburn High School senior linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end. Coach Adam Winegarden’s standout defensive leader committed to the University Florida last August, choosing the Gators over Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M. He made an official recruiting trip to Gainesville last weekend. Diabate reported to the All-Star practice Friday.
Niblett said his staff has tried to be smart this week – preparing the team to be at full speed come Monday. Alabama’s team holds a 22-9 edge in the all-star classic, which is an event of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (Mac). However, Mississippi handed Alabama a 42-7 defeat last year at Hattiesburg, the worst setback in the series’ history for Alabama.
AHSADCA Director Jamie Lee said he has been impressed with how both squads have conducted themselves this week. The teams had two practices Friday and were scheduled to participate in the Camellia Bowl parade at downtown Montgomery Friday night. The City of Montgomery, which hosts the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl which kicks off Saturday afternoon with Eastern Michigan taking on Georgia Southern University, has gone to great links to incorporate the Alabama-Mississippi All-Stars in its festivities this week.
Both teams will have their sixth practice session of the week Saturday morning and will then attend the bowl game in the afternoon. Their day will conclude Saturday night with dinner at Wynlakes Country Club. Former Prattville High School, University of Alabama and current NFL standout Roman Harper will address the players and coaches at the dinner. The annual Player/Parent Banquet will be Sunday night at Cramton Bowl’s MultiPlex.
One player attracting a lot of attention this week is Alabama’s strong all-star running back corps headed North Jackson running back Lee Witherspoon. He transferred from Birmingham’s Parker High School to North Jackson this season and turned in a record-setting effort rushing for 2,850 yards and 53 touchdowns on 149 carries in 12 games for the Chiefs (11-1) for a state-record 19.1 per-yard carry average. His 53 rushing TDs also set a single-season state record and his 59 overall TDs is also an AHSAA state mark. In one game he had 11 carries for 373 yards and 8 TDs. He also had over 500 additional yards in returns. Witherspoon, who returned three interceptions for touchdowns as a junior defensive back at Parker, is joined in the All-Star backfield by running backs Jalen Henderson of Spain Park, DeAngelo Jones of Wetumpka, Larry McCammon of Hoover and Amontae Spivey of 2018 Class 7A state champion Central-Phenix City. Payton Anderson, who rushed for almost 2,000 yards for Class 2A state champion Fyffe, is also in the game but listed as a defensive back.
Alabama is 5-0 in games played at Cramton Bowl. Mississippi is 2-0 in games played at Hattiesburg, including last year’s 42-7 win. Alabama also compiled a 17-6 record in games played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and Mississippi won the only game played at Troy University’s Veterans Stadium.
The AHSAA Radio Network plans to broadcast the game live over its statewide network of radio and internet affiliates. The link will be available at www.ahsaa.com. For more information concerning TV coverage, go to the following link:
For ticket information, go to the following link:
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