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Teams Set For 2016 Champions Challenge At Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl Aug. 18-20

      MONTGOMERY, AL – Six teams have been selected for the 11th annual AHSAA Champions Challenge Football Classic Aug. 18-20 at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.
      The 2016 Champions Challenge, which will kick off the 2016 prep football season, will feature one game at 7 p.m., over three nights with Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa taking on Demopolis in the Thursday night game, according to Alvin Briggs, Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) that hosts the event each year.
      Friday’s game will pit 2014 Class 7A semifinalists Hoover and Central-Phenix City, then Saturday’s game will close out the series with Andalusia versus Brooks.
      “We are very excited about the three games we have lined up,” Briggs said. “Each of them has storied histories and strong communities that love high school football. We thank the City of Montgomery for helping us make these games possible each year.”
      Hillcrest (8-4), coached by Sam Adams, reached the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs last year. The Patriots have high expectations with the return of talented running back Brian Robinson, wh0 set a new Class 6A single-game rushing record last season with 447 yards against powerful Clay-Chalkville. He is considered one of the top running back prospects in the nation in the Class of 2017. Adams, 17-8 in two seasons at Hillcrest, has compiled a 10-2 region record during that span.
      Demopolis (10-3) reached the Class 5A quarterfinals in 2015 before falling to eventual state champion St. Paul’s. The Tigers
are coached by Stacy Luker, who coached Sweet Water High School to five Class 1A state titles over a seven-year period from 2004-2010. Luker has a 187-74 career record. His 71.6 winning percentage is among the best in the state.
     Hoover (10-3) and Central-Phenix City (9-4) each reached the 7A semifinals last year. The schools’ programs are among the most storied in Alabama prep circles and the two coaches are among the most successful.
    The Bucs of Coach Josh Niblett have reached the state finals every year under his tutelage except 2015 when they reached the semifinals. Niblett, 106-11 in eight seasons at Hoover and 171-43 overall, guided Hoover to 6A state championships in 2009, 2012 and 2013 and the first AHSAA 7A title in 2014. His teams also finished as state runner-up in 2008, 2010 and 2011. He also guided Oneonta to the state 3A title in 2004 and has coached his teams to 11 or more wins in 16 years as a head coach.
    DuBose, 90-35, had head-coaching stops at Susan Moore, Prattville and Florence before taking over Central in 2014. The Red Devils are 19-6 in two seasons. DuBose served as offensive coordinator at Prattville’s 6A state championship teams in 2006 and 2007 and served as head coach for the title runs in 2008 and 2011. The Lions were runner-up in 2009.
    Andalusia (11-2) and Brooks (11-2) both reached the Class 4A quarterfinals last season.   Andalusia’s storied past includes 58 regular-season wins from 1973-68 with non-losing streak of 35 games, including the playoffs, during that stretch. The streak included a 7-7 tie with Athens in the 1976 Class 3A state finals with Athens.
    Coach Trent Taylor moved back to his alma mater in 2015 from Straughn where he had coached for 25 seasons and compiled a 175-107 record. Taylor is 194-123, including a head-coaching stop at Kinston in 1988 and 1989. Taylor’s teams have won 76 games in the last nine seasons.
          Brooks, coached by Brad Black, averaged 34.8 points per game en route to a 7-0 region record in 2015 and the Region 8 title.  The Lions have gone 41-17 this decade and won nine or more games nine times since 2000.
         In last year’s Champions Challenge, Madison Academy beat Leeds 19-14, Gordo downed Glencoe 28-21 and Bob Jones defeated Carver-Montgomery 37-33.
         The 2016 Champions Challenge schedule at Cramton Bowl:

        Thursday, August 18 – 7 p.m.: Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (8-4) vs. Demopolis (11-2)

        Friday, August 19 – 7 p.m.: Hoover (10-3) vs. Central-Phenix City (9-4)
        Saturday, August 20 – 7 p.m.: Andalusia (11-2) vs. Brooks (11-2)


10th annual Champions Challenge Bob Jones Beats Carver-Montgomery 37-30

     Bob Jones High School rolled up 272 of its 336 total yards in the first half Saturday night to down Carver-Montgomery 37-30 in the final game of the 2015 AHSAA Champions Challenge Football Classic at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.
    The win by Coach Kevin Rose’s Patriots from Madison wrapped up Saturday’s AHSAA doubleheader hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).  Gordo beat Glencoe 28-21 in the early game Saturday and Madison Academy downed Leeds 19-14 in Friday night’s Champion Challenge opener. Friday’s game was a regular-season contest that opened the season for both teams while Saturday’s two games were preseason jamboree games.
        Bob Jones jumped out to a 30-9 halftime lead before Carver stormed back with 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to tie the game at 30 all heading into the final quarter.  Wolverines quarterback Slade Price, making his first start for Coach Billy Gresham’s squad, scored on a 1-yard run to start the third-quarter rally at the 6:51 mark. He then found Xavier Lane on a 39-yard strike for the second TD two minutes later, and Daron Jenkins scored on a 6-yard run with 39 seconds left in the period to tie the game.
     The Patriots got the lead back quickly when Brad Anderson returned the following kickoff for 57 yards to the Carver 35-yard line to set up Derek Marion’s 14-yard TD reception from Collins Hess four plays later.  Although the Wolverines moved the ball well in the final quarter, Bob Jones kept them out of the end zone to seal the victory.
      Miles Strickland scored three touchdowns  in the first half for Bob Jones, which opens its season next Friday at Decatur. The senior had 12 carries for 68 yards, all in the first half. He opened the scoring with a 5-yard TD run at 9:13 of the first period to cap an eight-play, 70-yard drive to start the game. He tacked on a 1-yard TD with 2:05 left in the half to put the finishing touches on a 71-yard, 12 play march. He also caught a 37-yard TD pass from Milkhi Stewart late in the first period.
      Starting Patriots quarterback Brady Polson connected with Derek Marion for a 21-yard TD midway through the second period.  Matt Stephenson closed out the first-half scoring with a 40-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
    Carver starting quarterback Slade Price found receiver Darrion Steele behind the Bob Jones secondary for a 49-yard touchdown pass with 6:13 left in the second period.  In the first quarter, Kaleb Mosley kicked a 36-yard field goal for Coach Billy Gresham’s Wolverines. Another field goal try failed when it hit the goalpost left upright.
    Polson finished 16-of-25 passing for 159 yards and a TD. Collins Hess and Milkhi Stewart each completed a pass to give the Patriots 210 passing yards on the night.   Strickland and Stewart each finished with four catches for 62 and 49 yards, respectively.
    Price was 18-of-25 for Carver for 338 yards and two scores.  Lane was his favorite target with nine catches for 132 yards and a score, and Darrion Steele had six receptions for 142 yards and a TD.  Channy James was the Wolverines’ leading rusher with 33 yards on eight carries.  Carver finished with 386 total yards to out-gain the Patriots by 50 yards.
    Carlos Davis led the Bob Jones defense with seven tackles. A.J. Harris and Jay Hawthorne  also had one interception each.  Brandon Northern and Antonio Nelson sparked the Wolverines defense with eight tackles each. Quandre Giles and Eric Blow also had seven tackles apiece.

10th annual Champions Challenge Big Plays Help Gordo Beat Glencoe 28-21

     Gordo High School used two big plays in the second half and a tenacious defensive effort to post a 28-21 victory over Glencoe in the 10th annual AHSAA Champions Challenge Football Classic at Cramton Bowl Saturday.  
     The Classic is an event of the AHSAA and is hosted annually by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl. The Class 3A battle was the second of three games in the 2015 series. Class 7A Bob Jones and Class 6A Carver-Montgomery met in the final game Saturday night, and Madison Academy beat Leeds 19-14 on Friday in the first game.
      The MA-Leeds game was the regular-season opener for those teams while the final two games were considered preseason jamboree games.
        Leading 14-7 at intermission thanks to a punishing offensive attack and even stronger defense, Coach Ryan Lolley’s Green Wave struck with lightning speed midway through the third period when  Pat Manning streaked through a gaping hole for 95 yards to give Gordo a 21-7 lead at 7:04 of the third quarter.
       Glencoe, anchored by a talented offensive front, responded with an 11-play, 81-yard drive that ended with Aaron Bush hauling in an 18-yard pass in the corner of the end zone to close the gap to 21-14 with 1:49 left in the third. The Yellow Jackets, coached by Lee Ozmint, got the ball back with 11:49 left in the fourth quarter and mounted another time-consuming drive using 13 snaps to move from their own 37-yard line to the Gordo 11. With 4:34 remaining, however, the Green Wave lightning struck again when defensive back Xavier Lanier picked off a pass at the 5-yard line and raced 95 yards for the TD as Gordo jumped back ahead 28-14.
     Glencoe responded once again, though, driving 70 yards in nine plays to cut the lead to 28-21 with 47 seconds left when Taylor Daugherty scored on a 6-yard scamper.
    The onside kick that followed sailed out of bounds and Gordo needed only two snaps to run out the clock.
    Gordo led 14-7 at the half with the first score coming on an 11-play, 64-yard march to open the game. It culminated with Collin Herring scoring on a 5-yard run. Will Hankins’ kick gave the Green Wave a 7-0 lead with 6:35 left in the quarter. Glencoe tied the contest early in the second quarter following a 49-yard punt return by Pace Ozmint to the Gordo 1-yard line. Chase Wilson bulled in for the score on the next play, and Andrew Long kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.
      Gordo tight end Ben Davis, considered one of the top senior prospects in the Southeast, turned a short pass from Koy Chapman into a 24-yard TD reception with 3:23 left in the half to close out the first-half scoring.
Only 12 yards separated the two teams’ total yards with Glencoe rolling up 115 rushing, 150 passing while Gordo gained 193 yards on the ground and 60 passing for 253 yards.  Manning was the game’s leading rusher with 123 yards rushing on eight carries for Gordo.  Malcolm Nicholson also added 41 on 13 carries and Chapman was 5-of-7 passing for 60 yards.  Davis finished with two catches for 36 yards.
    Wilson completed 12-of-18 passes for 150 yards and one TD for Glencoe. Pace Ozmint had five receptions for 76 yards, and Dalton Roberts had four for 35 yards. Wilson also rushed for 39 yards on 15 carries, and Taylor Daugherty had 62 on 16 carries.
    Tyree Hurst had 11 tackles, Dee Jones had nine, Davis and Herring had eight each to lead the Green Wave defense.   Austin Bush had 10 stops and Ozmint had nine to lead the Jackets.


10th annual Champions Challenge Madison Academy Nips Leeds 19-14 In Battle of Defending State Champs

     Madison Academy edged Leeds in the battle of defending state champions Friday night – beating Leeds 19-14 in the AHSAA’s 10th annual Champions Challenge prep football classic at Cramton Bowl.
     The game hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), was the first of three in the classic to be played at Cramton Bowl this weekend and officially opened the 2015 AHSAA football season.  Saturday’s double-header kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday with 2014 Class 3A playoff semifinalists Glencoe and Gordo at 5 p.m., followed by Carver-Montgomery and Bob Jones in the big school finale at 7:30.
     All games are being televised live by AHSAA TV partner Raycom Media over its Raycom affiliates’ D-2 channels. At WSFA TV 12 in Montgomery the games can be found on the NBC station’s Bounce Channel. The AHSAA Radio Network is also broadcasting the games live over the internet. See www.ahsaa.com for the link.
     Coach Eric Cohu’s Class 3A state champion Mustangs (1-0) extended their current winning to 15 games with the win over the Class 4A Green Wave (0-1), which had a seven-game winning streak snapped in the process.  Leeds beat Madison Academy 28-24 to open last season – ending the Mustangs’ 25-game win streak at the time. Coach Keith Etheredge’s team went on to finish 14-1 and win the Class 4A state title at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium last December in the Super 7 state finals. Madison Academy won its next 14 games to also finish 14-1 and won the 3A state title at AU for its third state crown in a row.
     Madison Academy’s punishing ground game dominated the first half and then sealed the victory by grinding out a 19-play drive that started at the Mustangs’ own 20-yard line and ended up at the Leeds 16 to eat up the final 8:20 of the game.
      The Mustangs had the ball for all but four plays in the first quarter and for 29 of the 47 plays in the first 24 minutes.  Still, the Green Wave was still tied 0-0 until Kishawn Matthews’ 5-yard run at 7:29 of the second period gave MA the lead 7-0.  Senior running back Malik Miller was the workhorse with 146 yards rushing on 24 carries made it 13-0 with a 15-yard TD run with 3:10 to go in the half.
     Coach Keith Etheredge’s Green Wave did mount some offense late in the second quarter and carried that momentum into the second half behind senior Tre’ Nation picking up most of game-high 211 yards rushing in the second half. He had 24 carries and scored both Leeds touchdowns on runs of 2 and 9 yards.  His final TD came with 8:20 to play, setting up MA’s final march.
     Quarterback Grayson Edgmon was 10-of-13 passing for 200 yards for the Mustangs. His 19-yard TD pass to Cole Tomlinson on fourth down with 22 seconds left in the third period turned out to be the play of the game.
      Tomlinson finished with four catches for 67 yards and Jaelin Ferdinand added three grabs for 72 yards.
     Madison Academy ran 53 offensive plays for 353 total yards. Leeds had 39 rushes for 235 yards. The Green Wave did not complete a pass.
    Robbie Orfield led Madison Academy on defense with nine tackles including two sacks.  Tomlinson had seven and Bronson Schad, seven.   Kori Freeman led Leeds with eight tackles while Nation,  Josephus Smith and Alex Nickell had seven each.
    The Mustangs won the time of possession battle keeping the ball for 28:12 and Leeds for just 19:48.

10th Annual Champions Challenge Set for Cramton Bowl Friday, Saturday

            Six high schools, including two defending state champions and two 2014 semifinalists, will play Friday night and Saturday at Cramton Bowl as the 10th annual Champions Challenge officially kicks off the 2015 prep football season for the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
            The head coaches and selected players gathered at the AHSAA Tuesday for the Champions Challenge press conference. Media on hand came in early for the annual AHSAA Media Day. Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange was on hand to welcome the media there to cover the press conference.
           Three-time defending Class 3A state champion Madison Academy  will be riding a 14-game winning streak into Friday night’s Champions Challenge opener against defending Class 4A state champion Leeds.  Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.  The Mustangs lost to the Green Wave 27-24 in the season opener last season at Huntsville – a loss that snapped a 25-game winning streak.
          Coach Eric Cohu’s team rebounded to win 14 in a row, beating Glencoe 31-28 on a last-second field goal in the Class 3A semifinals and then beat Dale County 70-34 in the 3A championship game at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium last December.
          Leeds won seven in a row to open the 2014 season, then lost to Dadeville 20-14, then Coach Keith Etheredge’s Green Wave reeled off seven more wins to claim their third state title since 2009 with a 30-0 triumph over Deshler in the 4A finals at Jordan-Hare.
          Etheredge, 94-32, has seen his team compile a 66-7 on-the-field record over the last five years while Cohu’s team has gone 64-7 during that same stretch. Leeds posted four shutouts in five playoff wins last season, outscoring those opponents 206-14. Madison Academy scored 722 points on the season. Cohu has a 114-22 overall record including 76-10 with the Mustangs.
          The Champions Challenge will continue on Saturday with a double-header featuring Class 3A semifinalists Glencoe and Gordo in the 5 p.m. game at Cramton Bowl and Class 6A Carver-Montgomery versus Class 7A Bob Jones in the final game at 7:30 p.m.
         Gordo , 13-1 last year, lost on the final play of its semifinal game versus Dale County  32-28. The Green Wave of Coach Ryan Lolley has compiled a 20-5 record in his two seasons as head coach. Led by linebacker Ben Davis, Gordo touts a strong defensive team – reflective of the school’s storied history dating back to its first season in 1915. The Green Wave has a 555-348-32 record overall during that span. Glencoe, which fielded its first team in 1922, is 491-381-26 overall with Coach Lee Ozmint’s Yellow Jackets compiling a 45-16 record over the last five seasons.
         Carver-Montgomery won the Class 6A, Region 2 title last season and finished 9-3 overall in 2014. The Wolverines have gone 38-12 in Coach Billy Gresham’s four seasons as head coach and are 46-16 over the last five seasons.  Bob Jones, 8-3 in 2014, finished second in Class 7A, Region 8 behind region winner Gadsden City.  The Patriots fell to Tuscaloosa County in the state playoffs last year 28-21.
        Coach Kevin Rose, who joined the Bob Jones staff in 2008, has been head coach the last seven seasons compiling a 57-15 record which ties for second among 7A schools during that span. Only defending 7A champion Hoover has won more games in that span.
         The Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) hosts the series, which played its first Champions Challenge at Cramton Bowl in 2006.
          Last year was the first year that schools have had 11 weeks to play 10 games and the first year for the new seven-classification system. Schools still have a choice whether to count any week one contest as a regular-season or jamboree contest. The Carver-Bob Jones and Gordo-Glencoe games will remain as exhibition games and will not count on either team's record since all four already have 10 regular-season games scheduled.  The Leeds vs. Madison Academy clash will be a regular-season game. Both schools will have 10 weeks to play their remaining nine games.
         All six schools are taking the playoff-type approach, however. “Our kids were really devastated with the season ended like it did last year,” Gordo’s Lolley said. “We are a hungry team. I am sure Glencoe felt the same way. We feel this is such a big honor to be able to kick off the season in the Champions Challenge on such a big stage.”
        The 2015 Champions Challenge will be televised live and web-streamed by AHSAA TV partner Raycom Media. Stations in the network can be found at www.ahsaa.com. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast all three games live. The AHSAA Radio Network affiliates can also be found at www.ahsaa.com.  Live stats will also be available online at www.ahsaa.com.
        The Champions Challenge schedule is:

        Friday, August 21 – 7 p.m.: Madison Academy (14-1) vs. Leeds (14-1)
        Saturday, August 22 – 5 p.m.: Glencoe (13-1) vs. Gordo (13-1)

        Saturday, August 22 – 7:30 p.m.: Carver-Montgomery (9-3) vs. Bob Jones (8-3)

CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE HISTORY

2014
Spanish Fort 42, Stanhope Elmore 14
Opelika 20, Carver-Montgomery 16
Dadeville 14, Piedmont 8
2013

Benjamin Russell 28, Walker 14
Straughn 35, Walter Wellborn 26
Bob Jones 23, Enterprise 20
2012

Spanish Fort 33, Muscle Shoals 22
Central of Clay County 25, Beauregard 13
McGill-Toolen 27, Northridge 0
2011
Hueytown 36, Thomasville 27
Hamilton 38, Sweet Water 35
Daphne 24, Clay-Chalkville 21

2010
Opelika 34, Greenville 6
Auburn 30, Spain Park 3
Jackson 30, Trinity 8                                     

2009
Prattville 37, Carver-Montgomery 0
T.R. Miller 27, Leeds 7
Hoover 32, Oxford 27

2008
Prattville vs. Oxford, canceled due to inclement weather

2007
Prattville 36, North Gwinnett, Ga. 3

2006
Hoover 38, UMS-Wright 0
Clay-County 41, Addison 6


Spanish Fort Opens Season With Champions Challenge Win Over Stanhope Elmore

    MONTGOMERY –  Spanish Fort High School quarterback Tyler Johnston opened the season with a bang Saturday night, connecting with Kristian Cotton on a 90-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter to give the Toros an early two-touchdown lead in the final game of the 2014 Champions Challenge.
     Johnston, who rushed for 101 yards on 12 carries and scored the game’s first TD on a 20-yard first-quarter run, finished the game 16 of 24 passing  for 353 yards and 5 touchdowns as Spanish Fort (1-0) won its 25th straight game with a 42-14 win over Stanhope Elmore (0-1).
     Cotton also caught TD passes of 90, 26 and 16 yards in the first half and added a 30-yard reception in the third quarter to set a Champions Challenge record with four TD receptions. His 16-yarder came on the final play of the first half when he made a spectacular grab in the end zone over the arms of a Stanhope defender.  Cotton wound up with seven receptions for 199 yards.
     LaDarrell Pettway had a 74-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter for Coach Mark Freeman’s Toros.
     Johnston’s 90-yard connection to Cotton was upstaged in the second quarter, however, when Mustangs quarterback Tanner Anderson completed a pass to Michael Brown that covered 99 yards and Stanhope Elmore’s first touchdown of the night.
    The 99-yard reception ties a state record for the longest on record and just the 10th in state history. The last receiver to snag a 99-yarder was Etowah’s Darrin Peterson in a 21-14 win over Fort Payne in 2011.
    Brown also caught a 30-yard TD pass later in the second quarter for Stanhope’s second TD. He had the two catches for 129 yards.
   Cameron Harrison added 99 yards rushing for Spanish Fort, which had 251 rushing yards and 604 yards overall. Pettway had six catches for the Toros for 129 yards.
    Kareem Jackson led Coach Jeff Foshee’s Mustangs with 94 yards on seven carries, and Bennie Smith had 72 yards on 13 attempts.
    Alijah Reeves led Stanhope Elmore’s defense with 13 tackles and an interception. Timothy Brown added 10 stops.
   Pacing Spanish Fort’s defense were Tre Threat, Maurice Cole and Thomas Johnston with six stops each. The Toros made 11 tackles behind the line for 39 yards in losses.


Box Score


Game 2 of 9th Annual Champions Challenge: Dadeville Edges Piedmont 14-8

     MONTGOMERY – Dartavious Pearson scored two touchdowns in the second half to break open a scoreless defensive battle and Dadeville edged Piedmont 14-8 in Saturday in the Champions Challenge high school football triple-header.
    The Alabama High School Athletic Association has held the Champions Challenge for nine years to open the prep football season, The Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association manages the games each year.
     Pearson scored on a 20-yard run on the last play of the third quarter to give Coach Richard White’s Tigers a 6-0 lead. The extra-point try failed.  Pearson, who led all rushers with 118 yards on 16 carries, scored his second TD with 8:34 left in the game on a 6-yard gain.
    Dadeville appeared to seal the win one series later when Tyreke Stone intercepted Tyler Lusk’s pass at midfield and returned it for  touchdown. The score was called back when a Tigers defender was called for roughing the Piedmont passer.
   Lusk, who had a 65-yard touchdown strike to C.J. Savage called back in the first half, took full advantage of the opportunity and quickly led the Bulldogs of Coach Steve Smith to the end zone. He found Savage open again for a TD covering 42 yards and then passed to Austin Brazier for the two-point conversion to pull Piedmont to within six with 5:53 to play.
    The Bulldogs defense got the ball back late, but Dadeville’s defense rose to stop the final threat.
    Lusk was 8-of-20 passing for 181 yards with Savage hauling in four receptions for 107 yards.
   Jaquan Alvies and Trevorous Johnson had six tackles each to lead Dadeville. Alvies, Jalyn  Johnson  and Antonia Jennings each had two sacks to lead a Tigers defense that had 7 ½ sacks on the night. Alvies also had an interception he returned for 40 yards.
    Neonta Alexander led Piedmont with seven tackles.
    The game was played as a preseason non-counting contest. Dadeville hosts Tallapoosa County rival Reeltown Thursday in its season opener and Piedmont is also at home against Cherokee County on Friday.


Box Score


Bulldogs Hold Off Wolverines To Win Champions Challenge Battle

    MONTGOMERY – Opelika built a 20-7 lead after three quarters, then held off a fourth-quarter Carver rally to beat the Wolverines 20-16 Friday night as the ninth annual Champions Challenge prep football classic got underway at Cramton Bowl.
      Two more games are scheduled for the Champions Challenge Saturday: Dadeville vs. Piedmont at 5 p.m. and Stanhope Elmore vs. Spanish Fort at 7:30. Both games will be telecast live over the Raycom TV Network.
     Josh Johnson’s 1-yard touchdown run capped Opelika's 17-play, 70-yard march that ate up 6 minutes, 22 seconds to open the game. Chazdon Blackmon kicked the extra point and then followed with a 35-yard field goal five minutes later to extend the Bulldogs lead to 10-0.
     Carver struck quickly in the second quarter when quarterback Mike McKinney connected with Nagee Clay on a 78-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 10-7.
     Jack Slay booted a 23-yard field goal at the six-minute mark of the second quarter as  Coach Brian Blackmon’s Bulldogs carried a 13-7 lead into halftime.
    Jake Bentley’s 12-yard TD run and Slay’s extra-point kick put Opelika up 20-7 with 1:45 to play in the third period.
    Carver’s Marlon Davidson blocked an Opelika punt that resulted in a safety with 5:42 to play to make it 20-9.  Melvin Tyus then grabbed the ensuing free kick at his own 22-yard line and sped 78 yards for a touchdown just 18 seconds later. Nagee Clay’s extra-point kick cut the Opelika lead to four, 20-16.
    Carver got one more chance but ran out of downs as the Bulldogs held on to win.
    Opelika finished with 279 total yards and Carver had 244. Johnson was the leading rusher with 125 yards on 25 carries. Carver’s Jayland Horne had 105 on 12 tries.
     McKinney was 11-of-23 passing for 175 yards and the one TD for Coach Billy Gresham’s Wolverines. Clay had four catches for 100 yards.
     Matthew Christian was 9-of-17 passing for 91 yards. Tight end Kyle Fourtenbary had two catches for 32 yards.
     Ismail Saleem, who played for now closed St. Jude last year, had two kickoff returns for 62 yards, including a 53-yarder, and Tyus had 106 yards on three returns. Tyus also led all tacklers with 13 stops. Brandon Northern also had nine and Davidson seven for Carver.
    Roy Yancey and Jared Gentry each had five tackles for Opelika. Two of Gentry's stops were sacks for 13 yards in losses.
    The game was played as a preseason, non-counting contest. Opelika opens its regular season next Friday at arch-rival Auburn while Carver returns to Cramton Bowl to face Lee-Montgomery (1-0), which opened its season Thursday with a 15-0 win over Sidney Lanier.”


Box Score


9th Annual Champions Challenge Set for Cramton Bowl Friday, Saturday

Six high schools, including one defending state champion, will play Friday night and Saturday at Cramton Bowl as the 9th annual Champion Challenge officially kicks off the 2014 prep football season for the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
              Spanish Fort, which will be staking a 24-game winning streak on the line Saturday night against Stanhope Elmore, won the last two Class 5A state titles. The Toros (15-0) of Coach Mark Freeman will meet Coach Jeff Foshee’s Mustangs (4-6) in the final game of the series Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
            The Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) hosts the series, which played its first Champions Challenge at Cramton Bowl in 2006.
            Carver-Montgomery (10-3), which reached the Class 6A quarterfinals in 2013, opens the triple-header Friday at 7 p.m. against Opelika (7-4). Coach Brian Blackmon’s Bulldogs reached the Class 6A finals in 2012.
           Stanhope Elmore, Carver and Opelika will be competing this season in Class 6A with Spanish Fort, which moves up a class as the AHSAA changes to seven classifications.
          Class 4A Dadeville (11-2) takes on Class 3A Piedmont (11-2) Saturday at 5 p.m. in the small-school game of the series. Coach Richard White’s Tigers have been one of the winningest 4A schools in the state over the last six seasons. Coach Steve Smith’s Bulldogs, the 2009 3A state champions, are likewise in Class 3A. Piedmont lost 34-33 in overtime to eventual state champion Madison Academy last season.
          The 2014 will mark the first year that schools will have 11 weeks to play 10 games and the first year for the new seven-classification system. Schools still have a choice to count any week one contest as a regular-season or exhibition contest. The Carver-Opelika and Piedmont-Dadeville games will remain as exhibition games and will not count on either team's record. The Spanish Fort-Stanhope Elmore game will be the regular-season opener for each school.
         All six schools are taking the playoff-type approach, however. “This game offers a real state playoff atmosphere,” Spanish Fort’s Freeman said. “We played in this game in 2012 and it helped us prepare for the state playoffs and the state championship game.”
          His Toros have compiled a 38-5 record in three seasons under Freeman’s direction and 73-12 over the last six years with three state titles.
         Class 6A Stanhope Elmore finished 4-6 last season. The Mustangs are coached by Jeff Foshee, who has compiled a 98-58 record with 11 playoff appearances in 13 seasons.
         Gresham has led Carver to a 29-9 record the last three seasons. The Wolverines have gone 60-16 over the last six years with six straight playoff appearances. Brian Blackmon has guided Opelika to a 35-20 record in five seasons with 17 wins over the last two years. The Bulldogs have reached the 6A playoffs for four straight seasons.
        Piedmont has won 10 or more games the last seven seasons. Dadeville (11-2) reached the 4A quarterfinals in 2013, losing a 35-34 heartbreaker to UMS-Wright. The Tigers are 66-9 over the last six seasons with an amazing 40-2 record in region play.
        The 2014 Champions Challenge will be televised live and web-streamed by AHSAA TV partner Raycom Network. Stations on the network can be found at www.ahsaa.com. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast all three games live. The AHSAA Radio Network affiliates can also be found at www.ahsaa.com.  Live stats will also be available online at www.ahsaa.com.
        The Champions Challenge schedule:

        Friday, August 22 – 7 p.m.: Carver-Montgomery (10-3) vs. Opelika (7-4)

        Saturday, August 24 – 5 p.m.: Dadeville (11-2) vs. Piedmont (11-2)

        Saturday, August 24 – 7:30 p.m.: Spanish Fort (15-0) vs. Stanhope Elmore (4-6)

CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE HISTORY

2013
Benjamin Russell 28, Walker 14
Straughn 35, Walter Wellborn 26
Bob Jones 23, Enterprise 20
2012
Spanish Fort 33, Muscle Shoals 22
Central of Clay County 25, Beauregard 13
McGill-Toolen 27, Northridge 0
2011
Hueytown 36, Thomasville 27
Hamilton 38, Sweet Water 35
Daphne 24, Clay-Chalkville 21
2010
Opelika 34, Greenville 6
Auburn 30, Spain Park 3
Jackson 30, Trinity 8                                     
2009
Prattville 37, Carver-Montgomery 0
T.R. Miller 27, Leeds 7
Hoover 32, Oxford 27

2008
Prattville vs. Oxford, canceled due to inclement weather

2007
Prattville 36, North Gwinnett, Ga. 3

2006
Hoover 38, UMS-Wright 0
Clay-County 41, Addison 6


Six Schools Making Debuts In Ninth Annual Champions Challenge Aug. 22-23

            Six high schools chosen to participate in the ninth annual Champions Challenge high school football triple-header addressed the media Wednesday at the 2014 event press conference at the Alabama High School Athletic Association Office in Montgomery.
          The press conference closed out the AHSAA’s annual Media Day, which was attended by more than 50 media representatives from across the state.
          Carver-Montgomery will meet Opelika Friday night, Aug. 22 in the first of three games, according to Alvin Briggs, Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association which hosts the event each year.
        The two remaining games will be played Saturday, Aug. 23, beginning at 5 p.m. with Piedmont taking on Dadeville in the small-school game. Class 6A teams Spanish Fort and Stanhope Elmore will meet in the final game at 7:30 p.m.
        “We are very appreciative of the AHSAA for inviting us to participate,” Carver head coach Billy Gresham told the media. “We think this is a great opportunity for us to play a team we have the utmost respect for.”
        This coming season will be the first year that schools will have 11 weeks to play 10 games and the first year for the new seven-classification system. Schools still have a choice whether to count any week one contest as a regular-season or exhibition contest. The Carver-Opelika and Piedmont-Dadeville games will remain as exhibition games, Briggs said, and will not count on either team's record. The Spanish Fort-Stanhope Elmore game is set to be the regular-season opener for each school.
        “Coach Blackmon and I have talked and although it is officially an exhibition game, we are going to be playing all out just like a regular game,” Gresham said.
         Piedmont Coach Steve Smith said his Class 3A Bulldogs will be facing a powerful opponent in Dadeville. “We lost of lot from last year’s team,” he said, “but we have young players who are having to step up and be leaders this year and this will be a very good challenge for us.”

        Class 6A Carver (10-3) reached the third round of the 6A state playoffs last season and Class 6A Opelika (7-4) reached round one after playing in the 6A finals in 2012. 
       Spanish Fort (15-0) coached by Mark Freeman, moves up to Class 6A after winning back-to-back Class 5A state football titles. The Toros will be riding a 24-game winning streak heading into the Champions Challenge. The team is 38-5 in three seasons under Freeman’s direction and 73-12 over the last six years with three state titles.
         Class 6A Stanhope Elmore finished 4-6 last season. The Mustangs are coached by Jeff Foshee, who has compiled a 98-58 record with 11 playoff appearances in 13 seasons.
          “We think this is a great game for our program and our community,” Foshee said. “This is an exciting opportunity for our players, coaches, dance team, band and our entire community.”

         Gresham has led Carver to a 29-9 record the last three seasons. The Wolverines have gone 60-16 over the last six years with six straight playoff appearances. Brian Blackmon has guided Opelika to a 35-20 record in five seasons with 17 wins over the last two years. The Bulldogs have reached the 6A playoffs for four straight seasons.
        Piedmont (11-2) reached the Class 3A quarterfinals last season, losing 34-33 in overtime to eventual state champion Madison Academy. Smith’s Bulldogs averaged 43.2 points per game in 2013 while yielding only 12.5 points per game. He is beginning his ninth season as head coach. Piedmont has won 10 or more games the last seven seasons with an 86-18 record overall and a 17-7 mark in eight playoff appearances. The Bulldogs won the 2009 Class 3A state championship.
       Dadeville (11-2) reached the 4A quarterfinals, losing a 35-34 heartbreaker to UMS-Wright. Coach Richard White’s Tigers are 66-9 over the last six seasons with an amazing 40-2 record in region play. Dadeville will be in Class 4A, Region 3 and Piedmont is in 3A, Region 6 this fall.
        In last year’s Champions Challenge, Benjamin Russell beat Walker 28-14, Straughn downed Walter Wellborn 35-26 and Bob Jones edged Enterprise 23-20.
        The 2014 Champions Challenge will be televised live and web-streamed by AHSAA TV partner Raycom Network. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast all three games live.             
        Raycom announced at the press conference the first slate of games for the its new AHSAA Thursday Night Game of the Week.  Raycom, the AHSAA’s TV Partner for the Super 7 championships and State Basketball Tournament, will show 10 Thursday night games beginning Aug. 28 with Mountain Brook at Huntsville.
       The remaining schedule includes: Sept. 4: Shades Valley at Center Point; Sept. 11: Florence at Cullman; Sept. 18: Washington County at Sweet Water; Sept. 25: Montgomery Academy at Trinity Presbyterian; Oct. 2: Hoover at Spain Park; Oct. 9: Charles Henderson at Eufaula; Oct. 16: Smiths Station at Enterprise; Oct. 23: R.A. Hubbard at Hackleburg; and Oct. 30: Blount at Saraland. Executive producer Mike Llewellyn announced that Graham Dunn and Mike Peacock will be the announcers for the Thursday Night Game of the Week.
        The Champions Challenge schedule is:

        Friday, August 22 – 7 p.m.: Carver-Montgomery (10-3) vs. Opelika (7-4)

        Saturday, August 24 – 5 p.m.: Dadeville (11-2) vs. Piedmont (11-2)

        Saturday, August 24 – 7:30 p.m.: Spanish Fort (15-0) vs. Stanhope Elmore (4-6)

CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE HISTORY

2013
Benjamin Russell 28, Walker 14
Straughn 35, Walter Wellborn 26
Bob Jones 23, Enterprise 20
2012

Spanish Fort 33, Muscle Shoals 22
Central of Clay County 25, Beauregard 13
McGill-Toolen 27, Northridge 0
2011
Hueytown 36, Thomasville 27
Hamilton 38, Sweet Water 35
Daphne 24, Clay-Chalkville 21

2010
Opelika 34, Greenville 6
Auburn 30, Spain Park 3
Jackson 30, Trinity 8                                     

2009
Prattville 37, Carver-Montgomery 0
T.R. Miller 27, Leeds 7
Hoover 32, Oxford 27

2008
Prattville vs. Oxford, canceled due to inclement weather

2007
Prattville 36, North Gwinnett, Ga. 3

2006
Hoover 38, UMS-Wright 0
Clay-County 41, Addison 6