Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director
Dates of some tragedies are etched in our memories forever. On September 11, we pause to remember the thousands who perished in 2001 as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Many individuals remember where they were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 and/or when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on April 4, 1968.
Unfortunately, in the past 20 years, there are several dates stamped in our memories because of shootings in our nation’s schools, such as the ones at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018.
And on December 14, 2012, the nation wept when 26 people, including 20 children, were killed during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. While this tragedy tore the hearts of people nationwide, it was profoundly personal to me.
I was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and, on that day, was attending a meeting with the Commissioner of Education and the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. The commissioner was interrupted to take a private call, left immediately, and shortly thereafter the news of a “school shooting” reached the nation.
Suddenly, what previously was important became insignificant as we were all shocked at yet another senseless act of violence. As details of the shooting rampage were released, the incident became more and more horrific. The principal of Sandy Hook Elementary at the time, Dawn Hochsprung, was one of the six adults who perished that day. She was a personal friend of mine.
So, like millions of Americans this past weekend, I was overcome with emotion when Newtown High School won the CIAC Class LL State Football Championship – seven years to the exact day of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Newtown won the state title on the last play of the game as Jack Street – a fourth-grader at Sandy Hook in 2012 – threw a touchdown pass just as the fog lifted enough to be able to see downfield.
Once again, high school sports, and football in particular, was a unifying activity for a community. Amid the sorrow of the day, this incredible storybook finish by the Newtown High School football team gave everyone in the community – at least for a moment – the strength to continue the healing process.
We have seen time after time when high school sports provided students, parents and those in our communities a means to come together, to band together and to rise above struggles arm in arm. This was but the latest example.
The grieving process will continue for those people who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook tragedy, but this amazing effort by these high school football players brought smiles and tears of joy to a community that has not had many of those emotions for the past seven years.
Bobby Pattison, the Newtown High School football coach, had the following to say after the state title:
“The great thing about football and sports in general, moments like this bring people together,” Pattison said. “These guys had an outstanding year. To win a state championship, to win on the last play, it’s been a tremendous accomplishment. And these boys deserve it. They’re a great bunch.”
The value of high school football for communities across America? We would suggest what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, last weekend says it all.
Online link to article: https://www.nfhs.org/articles/the-nfhs-voice-football-championship-helps-healing-process-in-newtown-connecticut/
Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS, which celebrated its 100th year of service during the 2018-19 school year. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.
MONTGOMERY – Due to a miscalculation in data, some adjustments have been made to the AHSAA 2020-21 & 2021-22 Classification and Sports Alignment information released Tuesday morning.
As a result, St. John Paul II Catholic High School, which was listed in Class 5A, will be a Class 4A school in the new classification period. Saint James High School of Montgomery, listed in 3A, will also be in Class 4A. East Lawrence and Oakman are moving from 4A to 3A.
Due to these changes in school classification, some football region alignment changes became necessary in Classes 5A, 4A and Class 3A. The adjustments leave 32 football-playing schools in Class 7A; 58 in Class 5A; and 59 in Classes 6A, 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A.
Some changes were also made in volleyball alignments and cross country alignments. The adjustments have been corrected on the football and volleyball alignment maps online and on the classification information online.
“On behalf of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused,” said Executive Director Steve Savarese.
To get the most up-to-date information, including up-to-date maps, please go to the following link:
Changes to 20120-21& 2021-22 Classification
St, John Paul II moves from Region 8 to Class 4A
Brewer moves from Region 7 to Region 8
St. John Paul moves from 5A to 4A, Region 7
St. James moves from 3A to 4A, Region 2
Priceville moves from Region 7 to Region 8
Oakman moves from Region 5 to Class 3A
East Lawrence moves from Region 8 to Class 3A
St. James moves from Region 4 to Class 4A
East Lawrence moves from 4A to 3A, Region 8
Oakman moves from 4A to 3A, Region 6
Monroe County moves from Region 1 to Region 3
Trinity Presbyterian moves from Region 3 to Region 4
Glencoe moves from Region 6 to Region 5
Hokes Bluff moves from Region 6 to Region 5
Winfield moves from Region 8 to Region 6
Carbon Hill moves from Region 8 to Region 6
Childersburg moves from Region 5 to Region 4
John Carroll Catholic moves from 5A, Area 9 to 6A, Area 8 (due to competitive balance factor)
St. John Paul II Catholic moves from 5A, Area 15 to Class 4A, Area 13
Ramsay moves from 5A, Area 10 to 5A, Area 9
St. John Paul II Catholic moves from 5A, Area 15 to Class 4A, Area 13
East Lawrence and Oakman move to 3A
East Lawrence moves from Class 4A, Area 15 to Class 3A, Area 15
Oakman moves from Class 4A, Area 8 to Class 3A, Area 10
St. Luke’s Episcopal was placed in 2A, Area 1 but moves to 3A, Area 1 (due to competitive balance factor)
Washington County moves from Area 4 to Area 1
St. John Paul II Catholic moves from 5A, Section 4 to Class 4A, Section 4
East Lawrence and Oakman move to Class 3A
East Lawrence moves from 4A, Section 4 to 3A, Section 4
Oakman moves from 4A, Section 3, to 3A, Section 4
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control unanimously approved Tuesday the classification for member schools for the school years 2020-21 & and 2021-22. The classification will once again classify member schools in seven classes.
The action came during the Central Board’s December meeting at the AHSAA Office. Re-classification, conducted every two years, is based on average daily enrollment numbers for the first 20 school days after Labor Day. Public schools provide those figures to Alabama State Board of Education (ASDE). Member private schools supply the same enrollment information for their schools or school systems to the AHSAA.
The AHSAA functioned with a six-classification system from 1984 to 2014 and have been grouped in seven classifications ever since. The schools were grouped in a four-classification system from 1964-1983 and a two-classification system from 1947-1964. Prior to 1947, the AHSAA had just one classification system.
The 2020-21 & 2021-22 classification football alignment places the 32 largest high schools in the new Class 7A. The remaining six classes are divided with 59 football-playing schools in each class. The Central Board also approved the sports alignments for the other fall sports volleyball, cross country and swimming. The winter sports alignments will be announced following the end of the basketball season, and the spring sports alignments will be announced following the conclusion of the spring sports playoffs.
The Competitive Balance factor assigned to member private school teams have been applied to the fall sports alignments and will be applied after the winter and spring sports seasons for the remaining sports. Three private school football programs (Mars Hill Bible, Mobile Christian and UMS-Wright) reached the Competitive Balance threshold during the current classification and will move up one class from their current classification. Two schools bumped up in the first Competitive Balance application (Madison Academy and St. Paul’s Episcopal) did not meet the threshold to remain in the higher class during the current classification period and will drop back one class to 4A and 5A, respectively in the new classification period.
Of the eight school volleyball programs that moved up a class for the current classification period, three (Bayside Academy, Providence Christian and Saint James) earned enough points in the Competitive Balance formula to move up another class in the upcoming two-year period. Three (St. Luke’s Episcopal, Madison Academy and St. Paul’s Episcopal) will remain in the same class and two (Decatur Heritage and John Carroll Catholic) did not meet the threshold and will move down one classification to 1A and 6A, respectively. Four schools (Athens Bible, Westminster-Oak Mountain, Montgomery Academy and Faith Academy) are moving up for the first time due to Competitive Balance, and McGill-Toolen Catholic, which is dropping from 7A to 6A due to enrollment, will see its volleyball program remain in 7A due to the Competitive Balance points earned.
“I want to thank the AHSAA staff and Central Board for the hard work they put in to develop the reclassification plan that was approved,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “This is something that must be done every two years. It was a challenging task, but everyone worked together to find the best solution as we move forward.”
Central Board president Keith Bender said he wanted to thank the member schools for their input and patience throughout the reclassification process. “On behalf of the Central Board of Control and our member schools, I want to thank Mr. Savarese and his staff for their tireless efforts. I also want to thank our Central Board for their commitment and dedication to providing first-class athletic programs to all our student-athletes as well as making decisions that are best for all of our member schools.”
The reclassification enrollment and alignment data and for the sports of football, volleyball, cross country and swimming can be found at www.ahsaa.com. The direct link is:
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association and its TV Partner WOTM TV of Sylacauga will
televise a special program “AHSAA Classification 2020-21 & 2021-22” Tuesday morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., over the AHSAA TV Network’s group of
cable TV affiliates and live-streamed over the NFHS Network and WOTM platform. The one-hour special will detail the classification of member schools to be approved at Tuesday’s December Central Board of Control meeting at the AHSAA Office. The meeting, which will begin immediately following the conclusion of the board meeting, is being produced by Vince Earley of WOTM TV will be moderated by AHSAA TV Weekly
host Jon Holder with special guest analysts Josh Bean and Ben Thomas of the Alabama Media Group.
The Central Board is scheduled to approve the new classification for all member schools as well as the sports alignments for the Fall Sports of
football, volleyball, cross country and swimming for the next two years. Winter and Spring Sports alignments will be released once those championship seasons have concluded. Complete details will be uploaded to www.ahsaa.com Tuesday morning as well.
Details on how the AHSAA TV Network availability across the state can be found at the following link:
NFHS Network link for AHSAA TV Weekly “Classification 2020-21 & 2021-22” link:
AHSAA TV Weekly “Classification 2020-21 & 2021-22” Link:
HATTIESBURG (MS) – Mississippi All-Star Armondous Cooley of Wayne County blocked Alabama’s extra-point try in overtime to preserve a 17-16 come-from-behind Mississippi victory in the 33rd annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi campus Saturday.
With the game tied at 10-10 at the end of regulation, Mississippi, coached by Brad Breland of Union, scored first in overtime. Janari Dean of South Panola grabbed an outlet pass from Will Rogers of Brandon and out-legged an Alabama defender to the left pylon to score the go-ahead TD. Place-kicker Gavin Gaudin kicked the extra point to give Mississippi the led for the first time 17-10.
Alabama quarterback Logan Smothers of Muscle Shoals connect fired a pass to Thompson receiver Mike Pettway in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown to set up the final play.
The extra-point try by Alabama place-kicker Evan McGuire, who had field goal blocked late in the fourth quarter, was deflected by Hopkins to keep Mississippi’s current three-game win streak alive. Mississippi is also still unbeaten in three games at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Alabama, coached by Spain Park’s Shawn Raney, holds a 22-11 edge in the series, which dates back to 1988.
The overtime game was the first since Alabama’s two-overtime 24-17 win in 2010 at Mobile and was the fifth overtime contest in the series overall. Alabama was 4-0 in overtime games until Saturday’s setback – winning 24-21 in three overtimes in 1988, 24-21 in four overtimes in 1989 and 21-14 in one overtime in 1990.
Alabama took the early lead marching 69 yards on 11 plays to take go up 7-0 in first possession of the game. Lanett’s Kristian Story had two strong runs and Thompson quarterback Sawyer Pate had completions of 42 yards to Eddie Williams of Central-Phenix City and 11 yards to story to set up St. Paul’s running back Jordon Ingram’s 2-yard TD run with 6:10 left in the opening period. Thompson’s Evan McGuire booted the extra point.
Williams finished with six key receptions for 98 yards to earn MVP honors for Alabama. Mississippi MVP was George County defensive lineman McKinley Jackson.
The Alabama and Mississippi defenses took control in the second quarter making first downs hard to come by. Late in the first half, however, Mississippi reached inside the Alabama 20 but was turned away when defensive tackles Daniel Foster-Allen of St. Paul’s and Decarius Hawthorne of Center Point sacked Mississippi quarterback Jimmy Holliday of Madison Central in the final minute to stop the hosts’ best scoring opportunity of the first half.
Alabama’s offensive attack picked up steam in the third period, thanks to the strong running of Story and McGill-Toolen’s C.J. Evans and a big pass connection from Logan Smothers of Muscle Shoals to Keyonteze Johnson of Pinson Valley set up McGuire’s 30-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 10-0 with 8:02 to play in the quarter.
Mississippi drove inside the Alabama 5-yard line late in the third quarter, but Reeltown linebacker Eric Shaw sacked quarterback Jimmy Holiday of Madison Central on the last play of the quarter to stall the drive. Mississippi’s Gavin Gaudin of Northwest Rankin booted 31-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut Alabama’s lead to 10-3.
Mississippi got the ball back deep in Alabama territory a few minutes later, but the defense came up big once again when Pinson Valley defensive back intercepted a pass in the end zone for a touchback with just over eight minutes to go.
That’s when the Alabama wide receiver Eddie Williams stepped to the forefront with two big catches to move the ball inside the Mississippi 10-yard line. The drive stalled, however, with two straight incomplete passes and a 25-yard field goal try that was wide to the right with 6:14 to play.
Mississippi tied the game at 10-10 late in the quarter on a 70-yard, 11-play drive that ended with Tupelo receiver Trip Wilson snaring 12-yard TD pass from Will Rogers of Brandon with 2:04 remaining and Gaudin’s extra point.
Thompson’s Pate connected with Warriors teammate Mike Pettway on a 28-yard pass play that eventually led to a 25-yard field goal try by McGuire that was blocked Olive Branch defensive end Javon Banks to send the game into overtime.
Alabama finished with 260 total yards with 40 yards rushing on 27 tries and 220 yards passing. Pate finished 7-of-13 for 127 yards and Smothers was 7-of-9 for 93 yards. Story was the leading rusher for Alabama with 37 yards on eight carries. Pettway caught two passes for 37 yards and a TD and Johnson caught three for 40 yards.
Defensively, Alabama got an outstanding effort across the board with Xavier Morrow recording eight solos and one assist, Jackson Bratton of Muscle Shoals, five stops and two assists, and Daniel Foster-Allen of St. Paul’s Episcopal had six tackles total. Shaw had two sacks and three tackles overall.
Mississippi had 177 total yards with 88 rushing and 123 passing. Dean was the leading rusher with 66 yards on 19 carries. Rogers was 10-of-16 passing for 66 yards and Jaden Walley of D ’Iberville was their leading receiver with four catches for 27 yards.
Jackson had three tackles for Mississippi. Emmanuel Forbes of Grenada led the hosts with eight stops and Cooley had four tackles.
Alabama All-Stars Face Mississippi Saturday at USM
MONTGOMERY – Alabama All-Star head football coach Shawn Raney figured one major obstacle in preparing a group off 40 all-star players from differing backgrounds and programs would be the teaching terminology used.
His offensive coordinator Jamey DuBose of Central-Phenix City resolved that issue.
“That certainly was a challenge since each coach has his own twist on how he calls plays,” Raney said Thursday. “It has taken an adjustment no doubt. Coach DuBose came up with a wrist band that allows each player to translate a play called into the terminology they are used to. I think that idea has been a great one.”
Alabama’s All-Stars went through two practices Thursday at Camp Shelby, a National Guard base located near Hattiesburg. Saturday’s 33rd annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic will kick off at noon at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi on Saturday, December, 14.
The AHSADCA, in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) administers the all-star game each year.
Alabama lost to Mississippi 24-20 last year at Cramton Bowl but still holds a 22-10 edge in the series heading into this year’s game. Raney has been the head coach at Spain Park for seven years, compiling a 48-29 record with the Jaguars during that span. He guided Spain Park to the 2015 Class 7A state finals before falling to McGill-Toolen 14-12. His team won the Region 3 title in 2015 a 7-0 record.
“This week has been a really special week for myself, our coaching staff and the players,” said Raney, who served as defensive coordinator on the 2018 Alabama All-Star coaching staff and also was an assistant in the 2013 game.”
The Alabama All-Star staff also includes DuBose, serving as offensive coordinator, and Adrian Abrams of Minor, the All-Star squad’s defensive coordinator. Rounding out the staff are Darrell Higgins, Mars Hill Bible; Ben Berguson, Homewood; Jon Clements, Corner; Adrian Abrams, Minor; Doug Vickery, Flomaton; Tim Vakakes, Jackson-Olin; and Brian Maner (scout coach), Spain Park.
Raney said the players are getting high marks everywhere they go. “We hear nothing but praise for how they are acting on and off the field,” he said. “I can see them coming together as a team. We haven’t had much time together but they are working hard to become one unit.”
He said linebacker Jackson Bratton of Muscle Shoals has had an outstanding week and has lived up to his billing. The Trojans linebacker had 126 tackles in 13 games this season with seven sacks, 13 tackles for losses, five passes broken up and three fumble recoveries. He scored two TDs, one on a kickoff return and the other as a running back. Bratton closed his prep career with 464 tackles, which ranks 15th all-time in the AHSAA Record Book. Among those ahead of him are Thomas Johnston of Spanish Fort, the state’s all-time leader with 675 tackles, Blount’s Demarco McNeil (622); Matthew Forester of Briarwood Christian (612); Anfernee Jennings of Dadeville (484); and C.J. Mosley of Theodore (474) – all who played in the Alabama-Mississippi Classic. Johnston is a junior at UAB. McNeil is a member of the University of South Carolina coaching staff. Mosley is in his sixth year in the NFL – playing his first season with the New York Jets after five years with the Ravens. Jennings is expected to be a high pick in the NFL draft next spring and Forester, a former Samford University standout who is just finishing his first year as head coach at Briarwood, has a player in this year’s game – recent Clemson commitment Trent Howard.
Raney said both quarterbacks, Sawyer Pate of Thompson and Logan Smothers of Muscle Shoals, had a great practice Thursday afternoon. “They are really beginning to grasp our offense,” he said. Smothers, a Nebraska commit, finished his career at Muscle Shoals with 10,428 total yards and 100 touchdowns accounted for and passed another former Alabama All-Star quarterback Jameis Winston of Hueytown to rank sixth in the AHSAA Record Book. Winston had 9,853 yards in high school, then won the Heisman Trophy in college at Florida State and is currently in his fifth season in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Bucs where he has thrown for 18,743 yards and 114 touchdowns in his pro career already. Smothers was 622-of-920 passing for 7,489 yards and 65 touchdowns and rushed for 2,848 yards and 34 TDs on 450 career carries. He also caught two passes for 91 yards and another TD. His
Pate was 228-of-306 for 3,124 yards and 4! Touchdowns in 2019 in leading Thompson to its first Class 7A title in school history and the first since 1982. Smothers and Pate finished their seasons ranked 2-3 all-time in season pass completion percentage, with rates of 76.5% and 74.5%, respectively.
Raney also praised Thompson’s Evan McGuire, who will be handling all punting and kicking duties. “He is really outstanding, a great talent,” Raney said.
Both teams will have on workout Friday morning with Alabama spending most of its time going over special teams’ assignments. The players will participate in a community service project Friday afternoon and then attend the Parents/Players Banquet Friday night. Honorary game captains Jerraud Powers (Alabama) and Harry Harrison (Mississippi) will address the players at the banquet.
ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI GAME ON TV: In Alabama, viewers will be able to pick up the game live over the AHSAA TV Network of cable affiliates put together by network producer Vince Earley of WOTM TV. The game will also be live-streamed over the NFHS Network. The cable affiliate list is available at: http://www.ahsaa.com/Portals/0/WOTM-Coverage-2019_1.jpg
The NFHS Network link for the contest is: https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/mhsaa-ms/gam52db494a27
ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI GAME ON RADIO: The Alabama Radio Network will broadcast the game live over its group of affiliate as well. The broadcast can be accessed via the internet at the following link: http://mixlr.com/ahsaaradio/
ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI ALL-STAR GAME HISTORY
SERIES HISTORY: Alabama holds a 22-10 lead.
HATTIESBURG (MS) – Alabama’s All-Star football squad reported to Hattiesburg Monday and began preparations for Saturday’s 33rd annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic set for the University of Southern Mississippi’s M.M. Roberts Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon with the AHSAA TV Network broadcasting the game over its network of cable affiliates in Alabama. The game will also be live-streamed over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based platform.
Alabama All-Star head coach Shawn Raney of Spain Park High School said while the talent on the squad has caught the entire coaching staff’s attention, “I think how they are handling themselves and how they are beginning to bond as a team is even more impressive,” he said. “We had to work out inside some because of the weather Tuesday, but we had a great day of practice (Wednesday).”
He made a turnover challenge with the offense and defense, he said after Wednesday’s afternoon practice, and “the defense won Tuesday with five turnovers, but the offense had none today.”
Raney said two offensive linemen were added to the team Wednesday in place of Hewitt-Trussville’s Logan Self and Central-Phenix City’s Joshua Jones. Both were stepped down due to injuries. Mars Hill Bible senior Mack McCluskey, 6-4, 285, and Chase Little of Montgomery Catholic, 6-6, 305), were added to the squad.
Quarterbacks Logan Smothers of Muscle Shoals and Sawyer Pate of Thompson made big strides Wednesday, said Raney. “Both are very talented and showed signs of really picking up our offensive schemes (today).”
Lanett’s Kristian Story, an Alabama commit who set the AHSAA career total offense and touchdowns accounted for en route to leading the Panthers to a 14-0 season and the 1A state title, was named to the team in the “athlete” position. Smothers said Story worked out with the running backs Wednesday but will work with the quarterbacks on Thursday. “We plan to use him in a lot of different ways. He’s a really gifted athlete.” Story was named the Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year over the weekend.
Raney also singled out running back Rondarrius Wiggins of Jacksonville, who had rushed for 2,835 yards and 47 touchdowns as a senior on 277 carries, including a 24-cary, 179-yard effort versus UMS-Wright in the Class 4A Super 7 state championship game last week. He scored on a 79-yard run on his third carry of the game. “He certainly stands out,” said Raney.
He said the strength of the team come Saturday may well be the defense. “I have spent a lot of my time with the defensive unit and we have a lot really good players on that side of the ball. They are working well as a unit.”
Among the defenders are linebackers DaQuan Johnson of Flomaton and Demouy Kennedy of Theodore, two of the top-rated players in the game. R
Mississippi’s staff added three players to their roster, skill players Errick Simmons of Greenville, Ashton Nickelberry of Brandon and lineman Austin Wilson of LaFayette.
Both squads attended a dinner at the Hattiesburg Country Club Wednesday night and will conduct two practices at near-by Camp Shelby with the morning workouts getting underway at 9 a.m., and the afternoon practice at 2 p.m. The teams will have a single practice Friday morning at Camp Shelby and will attend the annual player/parent banquet at the USM Thad Cochran Center Friday night.
The squads will attend a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast at M.M. Roberts Stadium Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m., will participate in the
Meet the Players” activity on the field from 10 to 11 and the game will kick off at noon.
The game is an event hosted by the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) and Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) in conjunction with the AHSAA. Alabama’s All-Stars hold a 22-10 edge in the series which began in 1988 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and moved to Cramton Bowl in 2011. It also started a rotation in 2015 with the game being hosted every other year by the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC).
Mississippi won last year’s game 24-20 at Cramton Bowl and is riding a two-game winning streak heading into this year’s contest. Alabama holds a 22-10 edge in the series.
In the history of high school sports, the early 1970s will always be remembered first and foremost for the passage of Title IX in 1972 – legislation that sparked the growth of girls sports in the United States.
A year earlier, however, the National Federation of State High School Associations made a decision that has impacted education-based athletics in an equally significant manner.
Recognizing the future growth of the high school athletic directors profession, the NFHS started the National Conference of High School Directors of Athletics in February 1971. A total of 355 athletics directors attended the first conference in St. Louis, followed by another 257 at the December 1971 gathering in Columbus, Ohio.
The national conference for high school athletic directors has been held annually in December since that time, and on Friday, December 13, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, more than 2,100 athletic administrators will convene for the 50th National Athletic Directors Conference (NADC), which continues through Tuesday, December 17.
The growth of the high school athletic administration profession as well as the NADC was additionally fueled in 1977 when the NFHS formed the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA), a national professional organization for high school athletic directors. Membership in the NIAAA expanded rapidly and, in 2006, became its own organization. Since that time, the NFHS – the national leader and advocate for high school athletics and performing arts – and the NIAAA have worked together annually to sponsor the NADC.
Without a doubt, athletic directors are the leaders of education-based athletics in our nation’s high schools. They have an endless list of responsibilities and set the tone for the overall success of a school’s athletics and/or activities program.
In recent releases of “The NFHS Voice,” we have noted the significant role that athletic directors play with regard to the educational direction of a school’s athletic program, as well as ensuring that security measures are in place for after-school events.
Unlike national conferences for some groups, professional development is among the main reasons that athletic directors attend this annual conference. They know that they are entrusted with key leadership roles and want to provide a safe and fun experience for student-athletes in their schools.
This year, 40 workshops will be offered on key issues related to athletic directors tasks, including coaching coaches, social media, effective communication, managing fan behavior, event management, generating new sources of revenue, creating positive parent culture and promoting multi-sport participation.
In addition, the NIAAA will offer 52 Leadership Training classes, on topics from legal issues, to marketing and promotions, to managing fields and equipment, to working with students with disabilities.
Very simply, high school athletic directors are the key leaders in our nation’s education-based athletic programs. Local schools depend on these individuals to lead their athletics programs, our member state high school associations depend on these men and women to help lead state events and initiatives, and the NFHS and NIAAA look to athletic administrators for leadership at the national level. We appreciate the tremendous service they provide our nation’s young people!
Online link to article: https://www.nfhs.org/articles/the-nfhs-voice-leadership-of-athletic-directors-continues-at-50th-national-conference/
By MIKE PERRIN
FOR THE AHSAA
AUBURN – Familiar faces returned to the top of the 54th AHSAA State Swimming & Diving Championships Saturday with all four defending state champions repeating at the feat at Auburn University’s James E. Martin Aquatics Center.
The Westminster Christian Academy girls took first place in the Class 6A/7A division and UMS-Wright of Mobile took the 1A/5A crown. For the boys, Huntsville won its fourth straight championship and its sixth in eight years in the 6A/7A big-school division while T.R. Miller captured the 1A/5A crown outright in 2019 after sharing the title with Boaz a year ago.
Westminster’s girls of Huntsville have won four straight titles, two in 6A/7A and two in the smaller-school division. The Wildcats totaled 290 points to top Auburn (181), Spain Park (169), Grissom (165) and Fairhope (163). Auburn won the big-school division from 2013-17.
In the girls’ 1A/5A division, UMS-Wright of Mobile edged Whitesburg Christian Academy of Huntsville 273-271 for the championship in the most exciting competition of the 2019 state meet. Bayside Academy of Daphne was third with 173 points, followed by Madison Academy (124) and Birmingham’s Briarwood Christian School (118).
Huntsville earned 188 points to win the 6A/7A boys title. Daphne finished second with 236 points, followed by Auburn (209), St. Paul’s Episcopal (205) and Grissom (199).
T.R. Miller of Brewton registered 215 points to repeat as 1A/5A champ. Runner-up St. Michael Catholic of Fairhope finished with 196 points, followed by Boaz (182), Briarwood Christian (180) and Whitesburg Christian Academy (173).
Several AHSAA state swimming records fell Saturday with Westminster Christian Academy junior Rebekah Hamilton captured the 200-yard freestyle with a blistering 1:46.91 finish. The previous mark was 1:48.39, set by Paige Madden of UMS-Wright in 2015. Hamilton also finished first in the 500-yard freestyle with a winning time of 4:57.95. She clocked 4:54.27 in the prelims on Friday. No other girls’ swimmer clocked under 5:04.
Eboni McCarty of Westminster Christian also set a new record in the 50-yard freestyle, winning the prelims Friday with a 22.62 times. She set the record in 2018 with s 22.81 winning time. She won the 2019 finals clocking 22.88. McCarty also won the 200-yard freestyle title Saturday with a 50.07 time in the finals, which was just 29/100ths of a second shy of the state mark.
In the boys’ 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries, Trey Sheils of Daphne bettered his own state record from a year ago with a 54.95 finish in the prelims Friday. He won Saturday with a 55.90 time, which was just shy of the record (55.34) time he set in 2018. Sheils also won the 200-yard individual medley Saturday with a winning time of 1:50.52.
Daphne’ boys 400-yard freestyle relay team swam a 3:09.01 race to break Bob Jones High School’s record of 3:09.93 set in 2009.
St. Paul’s Episcopal’s boys won the 200-yard medley relay with a record time of 1:34.30, which was 22/100ths of a second faster than the previous record (1:34.52) set by Bob Jones in 2015.
Complete results are available at the following link:
The complete team scoring can be found at the following link:
Oxford 14, Spanish Fort 13
AUBURN – The Oxford Yellow Jackets won their first state championship in 26 years in a cliffhanging Super 7 Class 6A State Championship Game Friday night, edging Spanish Fort 14-13 thanks to a touchdown and extra point with just 23 seconds remaining in the contest at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The 6A finals closed out the 2019 Super 7 State Championships.
The Toros (9-5) had taken a 13-7 lead earlier in the final period after a wild blocked field goal return followed by a fourth-and-inches fumble into the end zone for a score with 6:21 to play.
Oxford, coached by first-year head coach Keith Etheredge, scored the winning touchdown almost six minutes later when sophomore Trequon Fegans scampered 3 yards around right end, crashing through two Spanish Fort would-be tacklers at the goal-line for the tying score, and senior Andrew Warhurst kicked the game-deciding extra point. The TD was the fourth play of a 43-yard drive that started with 1:34 remaining in the game.
Yellow Jackets senior X’Zavian Britt, a starting wide receiver who was forced into action as the backup quarterback when starter Trey Higgins was injured in the third quarter, broke loose for a 24-yard scamper to the 15 and ran 8 more yards to the Toros’ 7 to set winning score. A Britt-to-Roc Taylor lob pass was incomplete in the end zone, but Spanish Fort was flagged for interference gave Oxford the ball at the 3 to set up Fegans’ dramatic score. Britt was named the Class 6A state championship game MVP.
Spanish Fort’s go-ahead score was also remarkable. Linebacker Logan Ganey blocked Warhurst’s 43-yard field goal try and Micah Gaffney sprinted down the left sideline for 63 yards before he was knocked out of bounds at the 2 by Oxford’s Miguel Mitchell.
Toros quarterback Kris Abrams-Draine lost a yard on second-and-goal, but appeared to dive into the end zone from the 3 on third down. A replay challenge overturned the play, showing the quarterback’s knee was down inside the 1. On fourth down, Abrams-Draine tried the left side of the pile again, but the ball popped loose and into the end zone where wide receiver Travis McGowan pounced on it for the score. Tanner Keesee’s PAT went wide right.
The Yellow Jackets’ ensuing 58-yard drive ended at the Spanish Fort 13 when the spot on a fourth-and-inches play was challenged. The ball was re-spotted and a re-measurement showed it inches short with 2:42 remaining.
Oxford’s defense rose to the challenge, however, with leading tackler Tavares Elston (seven solo stops and one assist) and Chanceton Holifield dropping Spanish Fort’s Johnny Morris for a 6-yard loss to the Toros’ 8-yard-line on first down. Two plays netted just 3 yards and the Toros punted on fourth-and-14, setting up the dramatic finish.
The Toros, coached by Ben Blackmon, had been hoping to become the first No. 4 seed to win a state football championship. Spanish Fort was 4-0 in previous runs to the Super 7 finals, winning in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015. Oxford added its first blue championship trophy since 1993 to go along with back-to-back titles in 1988 and ’89. While it was Oxford’s fourth state crown overall, it was the fifth for Etheredge, who guided Leeds to four state titles during his tenure with the Green Wave.
Oxford got the only points in the hard-fought first half on a 13-yard run by Jonovan Carlisle with 2:05 left in the second period. The Yellow Jackets’ scoring drive was only 36 yards following a 24-yard Toros’ punt. Warhurst kicked the point-after.
Spanish Fort tied the score with a 12-play, 62-yard march in the third period. A wide-open Morris caught a 15-yard pass from Abrams-Draine.
Carlisle led the winners with 93 yards rushing on 18 attempts and Higgins had 70 on 17 before suffering an injury in the third period. Taylor caught four passes for 86 yards while Britt threw for 66 yards on 2-of-4 passing and caught two throws for 16.
Spanish Fort’s Morris had 100 yards on the ground on 18 attempts and Abrams-Draine ran for 83 on 18. Abrams-Draine was also the Toros’ leading receiver catching one of two completed passes for 25 yards. Carlos Johnson led the Spanish Fort defense with nine tackles and one assist.
AHSAA 2019 Super 7 State Championships
Thompson (12-1) 40, Central-Phenix City (12-2) 14
Oxford (14-1) 14, Spanish Fort (9-5) 13
Central, Clay County (13-2) 31, Pleasant Grove (13-2) 27
UMS-Wright (14-0) 28, Jacksonville (12-3) 17
Piedmont (14-1) 26, Mobile Christian (9-5) 24
Fyffe (15-0) 56, Reeltown (13-2) 7
Lanett (14-0) 41, Mars Hill Bible (14-1) 30
Special Olympics Alabama Unified Game
Baldwin County 27, Vestavia Hills 20
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