AHSAA Defensive Spotlight
MONTGOMERY – Lee-Montgomery senior linebacker James Russell didn’t let a two-hour lightning delay rain on his performance Friday night. The 6-foot-1, 213-pound linebacker totaled 15 tackles to lead the Generals to a 7-0 win over Montgomery County rival Park Crossing in the season opener at Alabama State University Stadium Friday night.
He grabbed the AHSAA Defensive Performance Spotlight for his effort that handed new Lee Coach Eric Hudson his first head-coaching victory as the Generals’ leader. The victory was the third win in a row in the four-game series over the Thunderbirds. The shutout was the first in the series and Lee’s first shutout since Sept. 15, 2017, and the 118th in the school’s 65-year history.
Russell edged out two other strong efforts by Wilson Turner of Class 4A Headland and Quadarrius Robinson of Class 6A Jackson-Olin. Turner and Robinson had 16 and 12 tackles, respectively, in season-opening wins.
Quarterback Harrison Barker of Spain Park was the AHSAA Offensive Spotlight for Week Zero, and Hoover place-kicker and punter Constantine Hontzas was earned the AHSAA Special Teams Spotlight.
Other top performances reported include:
WILSON TURNER, HEADLAND: Totaled 16 tackles and teammates Zach Lawrence and Ty Dailey had 15 and 12 tackles, respectively, as Headland beat Straughn 42-14.
QUANDARRIUS ROBINSON, JACKSON-OLIN: Recorded 12 tackles, two pass deflections and a game-clinching sack in a 26-24 victory over Fairfield. The win was the 12th regular-season victory in a row for Coach Tim Vakakes’ Mustangs.
RICHARD BRINSON, UMS-WRIGHT: Scored on a 7-yard fumble return and a 55-yard interception return to spark the defending Class 4A state champion Bulldogs to an 18-13 win over St. Paul’s Episcopal.
JADON RICHARDSON, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: Had 13 tackles and forced a fumble in the Red Devils’ 17-14 loss to Hoover in the Kickoff Classic.
JOSH SMITH, HOOVER: Had 12 tackles, one sack and recovered a fumble at the Bucs’ 3-yard line late to set up Hoover’s 98-yard game-winning drive in the 17-14 win over Central-Phenix City at Cramton Bowl.
TYRONE JOHNSON, CARVER-MONTGOMERY: Registered 11 tackles, including one for a 5-yard loss, as the Wolverines beat Jeff Davis 18-13 in the Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl.
JUWAN TAYLOR, JEFF DAIVS: Had 10 tackles, including three for losses totaling 12 yards, in the Vols’ 18-13 Kickoff Classic loss to Carver-Montgomery.
ROOKS SEALE, MONTGOMERY ACADEMY: Registered 10 tackles, forced a fumble and returned a blocked kick 60 yards in the MA’s 50-14 win over Brookstone (GA).
CHANCE STARLING, JAMES CLEMENS: Recorded an interception and a forced a fumble in a 23-13 loss to Grayson (Ga.).
DAKOTA SHRADER, LEE-HUNTSVILLE: Returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in a 49-0 victory over Columbia.
LAMAR CROSKEY, CLAY-CHALKVILLE: Intercepted two passes in a 37-14 victory over Dothan.
WILLIAM ELOM, WEONAH: Intercepted two passes and scored on a 10-yard run in a 14-6 victory over Linden.
LOGAN BREWER, MOUNTAIN BROOK: Scored on a 20-yard touchdown reception and a 67-yard interception return in a 35-6 victory over Northridge.
AHSAA Prep Offensive Spotlight for Week Zero
MONTGOMERY –Quarterback Harrison Barker made the most of his first start as a senior Friday night. The son of former University of Alabama quarterbacking legend Jay Barker completed 28-of-38 passes for 488 yards and four touchdowns as Coach Shawn Raney’s team beat Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 42-33.
The 488-yard effort earned Barker the first AHSAA Prep Offensive Spotlight of the season and was the 14th highest passing performance in AHSAA history, according to the AHSAA Record Book, and the third best effort since 2016. The top two efforts from 2018 were 507 yards by current Alabama freshman Tua Tagovailoa versus Oak Mountain in 2018 and Aaron Dove’s 503-yard effort versus Coosa Christian in 2017. James Raines passed for 563 yards in s 71-22 Berry win over Brilliant in 2016. The state record of 565 yards was set Chris Smelley of American Christian in a 43-31 Class 1A playoff loss to Brantley in 2005.
Barker edged out three other top offensive efforts from Azenda Pennington of Georgiana, Emmanuel Henderson of Geneva County and senior quarterback Robby Ashford of Hoover in Week Zero action.
Earning the AHSAA Defensive Spotlight for Week Zero was Lee-Montgomery senior linebacker James Russell, and the AHSAA Special Teams Spotlight goes to Hoover junior place-kicker Constantine Hontzas.
Pennington piled up 478 total yards in Georgiana’s 40-14 win over St. Luke’s Episcopal. He was 17-of-31 passing for 321 yards and three TDs and rushed for 157 yards and one TD on 15 carries.
Henderson tied a state record with a 99-yard TD run and totaled 325 yards rushing in Geneva County’s 54-37 season-opening win over Samson. He had five rushing touchdowns. His other TD runs covered 29, 53, 29 and 14 yards and he had a sixth touchdown with a 55-yard punt return.
Hoover’s Ashford directed the Bucs to a 17-14 come-from-behind victory over defending Class 7A state champion Central-Phenix City in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl. The Bucs trailed 14-0 at the half. Ashford, who was 9-of-21 passing for 140 yards and one TD, caught an 8-yard TD pass from freshman receiver R.J. Hamilton in the third period to finally get Hoover on the board.
With 4:22 to play, the Bucs forced a Central fumble at their own 3-yard line and Ashford then directed a clutch 84-yard, 11-play drive that ended with Constantine Hontzas booting a 30-yard field goal on the last play of the game to give Hoover the win. Ashford completed passes of 28 and 20 yards and had a big 13-yard run for a first down to stop the clock at the Central 16-yard line with three seconds remaining to set up the winning kick.
The victory also snapped Central’s 14-game winning streak.
Other top offensive performances reported for Week Zero included:
CARSON DANIEL, BROOKS: Completed 18-of-22 passes for 339 yards and five touchdowns in 69-38 win over Lauderdale County
ETHAN ARMSTRONG, BROOKWOOD: Completed 22-of-30 for 337 yards and three TDs and added 10 rushes for 61 yards and a TD in a 30-26 victory over West Blocton.
NICK McFARLAND, WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN: Completed 21-of-24 passes for 328 yards and four TDs in a 68-34 victory over DAR.
SAWYER PATE, THOMPSON: Completed his first four passes – two for TDs -- and finished 12-of-18 passing for 214 yards and three scores and added a 2-yard TD run in a 40-14 victory over Davidson. His TD passes covered 4, 70 and 2 yards.
SETH BROWN, ST. JOHN PAUL II CATHOLIC: Completed 22-of-32 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns and added 161 yards rushing on 18 carries and four more touchdowns in a 68-34 victory over DAR.
ZYQUEZ PERRYMAN, PLEASANT GROVE: Completed 14-of-27 passes for 282 yards and two TDs in a 32-25 victory over Mortimer Jordan.
ETHAN TEAL, DALE COUNTY: Passed for 148 yards and one TD and rushed for 111 yards on 10 carries with a score in a 34-27 win over county rival Ariton.
MADDUX HERRING, ARITON: Was 11-of-20 passing for 228 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 63 yards and a fourth TD in the Purple Cats’ 34-27 loss to Dale a County.
KOURTLAN MARSH, MORTIMER JORDAN: Passed for 222 yards and two touchdowns and had 65 rushing yards and one score in a 32-25 loss to Pleasant Grove.
CHARLIE CATER, LOCUST FORK: Combined for 350 yards with 188 rushing and 162 passing in a 46-28 loss to St. John Paul II Catholic.
ROSS REYNOLDS, ARAB: Accounted for 301 yards, including 13-of-18 passing for 207 yards, and threw four TD passes in a 28-21 victory over Boaz.
JALEN VINSON, RED BAY: Completed 11-of-18 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns and added 65 rushing yards in 36-0 win over Colbert Heights
LOGAN SMOTHERS, MUSCLE SHOALS: Completed 15-of-23 passes for 206 yards and added eight rushes for 98 yards and a 41-yard TD run in the Trojans’ 42-3 victory over Deshler.
KOLE WILLIAMS, CARVER-MONTGOMERY: Was 11-of-20 passing for 232 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 14 times for 35 yards and another score as the Wolverines downed Jeff Davis 18-13 in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic.
MARCUS WEBB, JEFF DAVIS: Completed 14-of-26 passes for 189 yards and rushed 15 times for 67 yards and a TD in the Vols’ 18-13 Kickoff Classic loss to Carver-Montgomery at Cramton Bowl.
TYQUAN RAWLS, WETUMPKA: Completed 9-of-19 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 126 yards and another TD on 14 carries to lead the Indians to a 35-24 come-from-behind victory over Fairhope.
BRITTON KOHN, MONTGOMERY ACADEMY: Accounted for four touchdowns and 213 total yards in the Eagles’ 50-14 win over Brookstone (GA). He was 15-of-21 passing for 178 yards and two scores and rushed for 35 yards and two TDs.
DRE NEWMAN, HEADLAND: Completed only 3-of-10 passes, but all three were for touchdowns as the Rams opened the 2019 season with a 42-14 win over Straughn. Newman finished with 143 yards passing, rushed 14 times for 86 yards, returned a punt 55-yards for a TD and scored two 2-point conversions.
KALEB JONES, COLLINSVILLE: Completed 6-of-12 passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns (12, 32, 36 yards) — all to Garrett Skelton — in the Panthers’ 50-6 victory at Plainview.
JALEN WHITE, DALEVILLE: Piled up 281 yards rushing and scored and four touchdowns on 16 carries in the Warhawks’ 38-28 win over Elba.
RYAN MORROW, MAPLESVILLE: Ran for 283 yards with TD runs of 1, 62, and 91 yards and a caught a TD pass in a 40-6 victory over Fultondale.
JEREMIAH GIBBS, JOHN CARROLL CATHOLIC: Had 24 carries for 275 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-20 victory over St. Clair County.
CARLOS CORBIN, HUNTSVILLE: Ran 22 times for 225 yards, with TD runs of 4 and 49 yards, in a 49-14 victory over Decatur.
MARK HOWARD, GRISSOM: Had 20 carries for 224 yards and TD runs of 3, 9, 1 and 40 yards in a 47-27 victory over Hazel Green.
JAIRRICE PRYOR, CLEMENTS: Ran for 221 yards, including seven runs of 10 yards or more, and scored on TD runs of 27 and 2 yards in a 50-6 victory over Elkmont.
ARMONI GOODWIN, HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE: Ran for 218 yards and four TDs, including the go-ahead 39-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter of a 40-33 victory over Pinson Valley.
WISE GORDON, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: Gained 198 rushing yards on 20 carries with three touchdowns, setting the school record for career touchdowns (38) in the process, in the Eagles’ 42-13 win over New Brockton.
JEVON JACKSON, AUSTIN: Had 14 rush attempts for 205 yards with touchdown runs of 12 85 and 10 yards. He also hauled in a 31-yard touchdown reception in Austin’s 45-14 win over Hartselle.
JOSEPH McKAY, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: Had 27 carries for 177 yards, including a non-scoring 62-yard run, as the Red Devils fell 17-14 to Hoover in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl.
ROYDELL WILLIAMS, HUEYTOWN: Ran 17 times for 148 yards, caught three passes for another 56 yards, and scored on runs of 1 and 73 yards and a 44-yard catch in a 32-19 victory over Homewood.
TRENT DAVIS, ETOWAH: Rushed 30 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the Blue Devils' 31-24 win over Gadsden City. All but 22 of Davis' yards came in the second half.
KIERSTON ROGERS, THEODORE: Ran for 200 yards on 33 carries and scored twice in the fourth period to lead the Bobcats to a 35-21 win over Daphne.
JARRIS WILLIAMS, BLOUNT: Rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns as Blount beat Vigor 38-7 in the annual Battle of Prichard.
RASHAWN McALPINE, SARALAND: Gained 134 yards on 17 carries with TDs covering 5, 13 and 30 yards and also caught a 66-yard TD pass to lead the Spartans past Andalusia 42-20.
CHRISTOPHER COTTON-TAYLOR, CALERA: Finished with 133 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a 27-20 victory over Pelham.
L.T. SANDERS, GARDENDALE: Logged 16 carries for 130 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-14 victory over Mae Jemison.
DUVINE BEEBE, NEW HOPE: Ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-30 victory over Holly Pond.
JEFFERY ROWSER, RAMSAY: Ran 22 times for 123 yards with a 1-yard TD run in a 21-18 victory over Minor.
EVAN SMITH, OAK MOUNTAIN: Ran for 100 yards, including a 59-yarder to set up a field goal, and scored on runs of 1 and 3 yards as Oak Mountain overcame nine fumbles to beat Chelsea 17-0.
DARTAVIOUS BRITTON, COOSA CHRISTIAN: The senior halfback finished with 268 combined yards in the Conquerors' 50-24 loss to Westbrook Christian. He rushed 14 times for 159 yards and two TDs and completed 2-of-2 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
CAMERON HOVEY, REHOBETH: The Rebels’ senior running back rushed for four touchdowns (2, 2, 7 and 4 yards) in the Rebels’ 36-22 win over Ashford, snapping a 16-game losing streak.
JERRON SMITH, HAZEL GREEN: Caught TD passes of 72, 30 and 41 yards in a 47-27 loss to Grissom.
JUSTIN STUBBLEFIELD, DAR: Caught 10 passes for 159 yards and two TDs in a 68-34 loss to Westminster Christian.
ADRIAN MILTON, MURPHY: With the Panthers facing a third-and-44 in the final quarter, the receiver hauled in a 52-yard TD reception for the clinching score as Murphy beat Baldwin County 19-7. He also had an 11-yard TD catch late in the first half.
EVAN DELP, COOSA CHRISTIAN: Had had three receptions for 158 yards and two scores in the Conquerors’ 50-24 loss to Westbrook Christian.
REGINALD SUMMAGE, JEFF DAVIS: Grabbed nine receptions for 136 yards as Jeff Davis lost 18-13 to Carver-Montgomery at Cramton Bowl.
KEION JACKSON, DALE COUNTY: Caught three passes for 126 yards, including an 88-yarder in the fourth quarter, as the Warriors nipped Ariton 34-27.
NADARIUS HARRIS, CARVER-MONTGOMERY: Hauled in five receptions for 119 yards with a 57-yard touchdown in the Wolverines’ 18-13 win over Jeff Davis in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic.
WILLIAM ROBERTSON, MONTGOMERY ACADEMY: Caught nine passes for 108 yards and two TDs in the Eagles’ 50-14 win over Brookstone (GA). He also had seven tackles on defense.
GARRETT SKELTON, COLLINSVILLE: Caught three passes for 80 yards and three touchdowns (12, 32, 36 yards) in the Panthers’ 50-6 win at Plainview.
NICK GRIFFIN, MUSCLE SHOALS: Had six catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns covering 6 and 57 yards in the Trojans’ 42-3 win over Deshler.
KEYONTEZE JOHNSON, PINSON VALLEY: Caught seven passes for 67 yards, including TD catches of 8 and 15 yards in a 40-33 loss to Hewitt-Trussville.
RIVER HELM, WEST LIMESTONE: Caught TD passes of 56 and 44 yards in a 21-2 victory over Tanner.
MONTGOMERY – AHSAA Director of Officials Mark Jones reported that six calls on the field were challenged during the 2019 Week Zero high school football action with two calls being reversed.
“Of the 11 games utilizing DVSport Instant Replay during Week Zero, only three games had challenges,” said Jones. “Two of those games were the Kickoff Classic contests held at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl, and the other was at Opelika.”
Instant Replay is in its second year of implementation. The NFHS has granted the AHSAA a three-year period to experiment with instant replay in regular season games. The six challenges and two overturned represent a 33.0% percent rate after one week of action.
Challenges at Kickoff Classic
Carver Montgomery challenged the on-the-field ruling of a fumble for a touchback that was reversed and resulted in a touchdown for Carver upon review. Two other challenges during the game stood as called. One was a fumble that stood as called and the other an interception that stood as called. The Wolverines beat Jeff Davis 18-13.
In Friday night’ Kickoff Classic game won 17-14 by Hoover over Central-Phenix City, Central challenged a touchdown pass by Hoover during the third quarter. The play stood as called with the receiver getting a foot down inbounds at the back of the end zone.
Opelika hosted Callaway (GA) on Thursday night with two challenged calls resulting during the contest. One was a forward pass thrown by Callaway with two minutes remaining in the contest. Replay showed it was an illegal forward pass that resulted in a five yard penalty and loss of down. The other play was illegal participation that stood as called.
Other host sites using DVSport Instant Replay were: Baker, Oxford, Austin, Thompson (two games played at Thompson), Good Hope, and Auburn. A total of 18 high schools
This week’s games include:
Thursday, Aug. 29
East Limestone at West Limestone
Friday, Aug. 30
Priceville at Good Hope
Tallassee at Handley
Auburn at Opelika
Gadsden City at Oxford
Foley at Thompson
Schools taking part so far this season include:
Sidney Lanier (preseason)
Huskies and Gophers Play Thursday night
MONTGOMERY – The AHSAA TV Network Game of the Week this Thursday will be Helena High School at Hueytown High School, announced executive producer Vincent Earley. The game will be televised over the AHSAA Network of cable affiliates across the state on the WOTM or ACN channel and available over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based live-stream platform.
Veteran announcer Tommy Wood will be handling the play-by-play and former high school and college coach Rick Rhoades will handling color. Rhoades served as head coach at Troy University, Southern Illinois, Nicholls State and Delta State. He had a 78-48-1 career college coaching record winning the NCAA Division II national championship at Troy in 1987. He led the Trojans and Delta State to the Division II semifinals in 1986 and 2006, respectively. He also compiled a 69-34-1 high school head-coaching record with stops at Handley, Mountain Brook, Davidson, Andalusia and Pelham. He led Mountain Brook to a 14-0 record and the Class 4A state championship in 1976.
Hueytown (1-0) beat Homewood 32-19 last week to open the 2019 season, and Helena (1-0) downed McAdory 38-14. The Golden Gophers finished 9-3 last season and won the Class 6A, Region 4 title. Helena finished 4-6 and narrowly missed qualifying for the state playoffs in in Class 6A, Region 6.
The game will feature two teams with punishing running games. Anchoring Coach Greg Patterson’s Gophers is senior running back Roydell Williams, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound first-team All-State selection in 2018. He rushed for 2,757 yards and 32 touchdowns on 291 carries as a junior and had 1,509 yards and 24 TDs on 191 carries as a sophomore. He came into the season with 521 rush attempts, 4,640 career rushing yards and 60 rushing touchdowns. He committed to Alabama after last season.
Coach Richie Busby, in his second season as head coach for the Huskies, also features junior running back Marquise Johnson. He had 160 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over McAdory. Helena had 287 yards rushing against the Jackets. Senior Brodie Jones also had 68 yards on 13 carries and one TD. Busby, 45-23, coached Fultondale for five seasons compiling a 40-17 record. Patterson, 15-26, coached Sumiton Christian for four seasons. He is in his first season as head coach at Hueytown.
Hueytown began football in 1921 and is celebrating its 99th season. Helena opened as the newest high school in Shelby County in 2014. This is the sixth season for the Huskies. Hueytown won last year’s game 28-7. Kickoff Thursday is set for 7 p.m., at Hueytown High School Stadium.
The AHSAA TV Network also announced the Game of the Week schedule for the next two weeks. Minor at Jackson-Olin will be the AHSAA TV Network Game of the week on Thursday, Sept. 5, and Dothan vs. Park Crossing at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl will be the Game of the Week on Sept. 12. The remaining games will be released one the schedule is completed.
For information concerning cable availability, go to the following link provided by WOTM.
For information concerning the NFHS Network, use go to:
NFHS reports National Participation has 1st decline since 1988-89
MONTGOMERY – Participation in high school sports declined in 2018-19 for the first time in 30 years, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). However, participation in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) rose by 1.7% in 2018-19 over the previous year’s totals.
The AHSAA saw a total of 146,446 students participating on team rosters in 2018-19, an increase of 2,489 student-athletes over the 143,957 reported in 2017-18. The leader was football, which saw a 4.8% rise from (30,882 in 2017-18 to 32,366 in 2018-19 – up 1,484 students. The biggest sports percentage participation increase was reported in girls’ soccer, which rose from 5,021 to 5,434 over the two-year period, a change of 413 student-athletes and an 8.2% increase.
The NFHS, which gathers data from all 51 state associations, which includes the District of Columbia, showed the 2018-19 total of 7,937,491 participants is a decline of 43,395 from the 2017-18 school year when the number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time record high of 7,980,886. The latest year’s data was still the third-highest ever and consisted of 4,534,758 boys and 3,402,733 girls, according to the figures obtained. The last decline in sports participation numbers occurred during the 1988-89 school year.
“The AHSAA’s increase in participation is a credit to our coaches and administrators for providing an environment conducive to educational athletics resulting in programs where parents want their children involved,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “We are proud of our schools and believe in our mission.”
The AHSAA’s totals for 2018-19 showed 89,626 boys’ participants and 56,820 girls’ participants, up 0.6% and 3.6%, respectively, from 2017-18. Sports with the highest participation in the AHSAA were: 1. Football (32,366); 2. Baseball (14,100); 3. Boys’ Basketball (13,648); 4. Volleyball (10,310); 5. Softball (9,752); 6. Girls’ Basketball (8,559); 7. Boys’ Outdoor Track (8,317); 8. Cheer (7,885); 9. Boys’ Soccer (6,916); 10. Girls’ Outdoor Track (5,962).
The top gain in AHSAA boys’ sports came in wrestling, where 167 more student-athletes participated for an increase of 5.7%. Cheer, which instituted regional competition for the first time in 2018-19, saw a 7.9% rise with 574 more students participating. Boys’ soccer showed a 5.0% increase and girls’ indoor track had a 6.1% increase. Only two sports showed a decrease, baseball and boys’ tennis. Baseball, which ranked second in participation in both years, had a 712-student decrease resulting in a 11.4% drop in participation. Boys’ tennis saw a 3.5% decrease in numbers from 1,559 to 1,504.
“We know from recent surveys that the number of kids involved in youth sports has been declining, and a decline in the number of public school students has been predicted for a number of years, so we knew our ‘streak’ might end someday,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director addressing the national decline. “The data from this year’s survey serves as a reminder that we have to work even harder in the coming years to involve more students in these vital programs – not only athletics but performing arts programs as well.”
The biggest contributors to the decline were the two longstanding and popular sports of football and basketball. Participation in boys’ 11-player football declined by 30,829 participants to 1,006,013 – the lowest mark since 1,002,734 in the 1999-2000 school year.
Although the actual number of participants in boys’ 11-player football dropped for the fifth consecutive year nationally, the number of schools offering the sport remained steady. The survey indicated that 14,247 schools offer 11-player football – an increase of 168 from last year. A comparison of the figures from the past two years indicates that the average number of boys involved in 11-player football on a per-school basis dropped from 73 to 70, which would include freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams.
While participation in boys’ 11-player football dropped in all but seven states, participation in 6-player, 8-player and 9-player gained 156 schools and 1,594 participants nationwide, with the largest increase in boys’ 8-player football from 19,554 to 20,954. In addition, in the past 10 years, participation by girls in 11-player football has doubled – from 1,249 in the 2009-10 school year to 2,404 last year.
“The survey certainly confirms that schools are not dropping the sport of football, which is great news,” Niehoff said. “Certainly, we are concerned about the reduction in the number of boys involved in the 11-player game but are thrilled that states are finding other options by starting 6-player or 8-player football in situations where the numbers have declined.
“While we recognize that the decline in football participation is due, in part, to concerns about the risk of injury, we continue to work with our member state associations, the nation’s high schools and other groups to make the sport as safe as possible. Every state has enacted rules that limit the amount of contact before the season and during practices, and every state has concussion protocols and laws in place, so we continue to believe that the sport is as safe as it has ever been.
“We also are working with groups such as USA Football to reduce contact and teach proper tackling skills at the youth levels to increase the interest level as kids reach junior high school and high school.”
The NFHS survey showed that combined basketball participation was down 23,944 (13,340 girls and 10,604 boys), and the girls basketball total of 399,067 is the lowest since the 1992-93 school year. However, the decrease in girls’ basketball participation from 430,368 in 2016-17 to 399,067 in 2018-19 is largely attributable to a 25,000 drop in Texas during that two-year period. Dismissing the Texas numbers, girls’ basketball numbers have been steady in the range of 430,000 for the past seven years.
AHSAA basketball participation rose 1.1% from 13,386 to 13,532 for boy’ basketball and girls’ basketball rose 2.2% from 8,314 to 8,494.
Four of the top 10 boys’ sports registered increases in participation the NFHS survey reported, topped by track and field with an additional 5,257 participants. Other top 10 boys’ sports that added participants last year were soccer (2,715), wrestling (1,877) and tennis (1,163). Among girls’ top 10 sports, volleyball was the front-runner with an additional 6,225 participants, followed by soccer (3,623) and lacrosse (3,164).
The most significant increases from last year were registered in the adapted and Unified sports programs. The various adapted sports sponsored by schools across the country gained 4,102 participants, while Unified sports participation increased 2,938.
With 1,006,013 participants, 11-player football remains the No. 1 participatory sport for boys in high school by a large margin. Outdoor track and field is No. 2 with 605,354 participants, followed by basketball (540,769), baseball (482,740), soccer (459,077), cross country (269,295), wrestling (247,441), tennis (159,314), golf (143,200) and swimming/diving (136,638).
Outdoor track and field continues to lead the way for girls with 488,267 participants, followed by volleyball (452,808), basketball (399,067), soccer (394,105), fast-pitch softball (362,038), cross country (219,345), tennis (189,436), swimming/diving (173,088), competitive spirit (161,358) and lacrosse (99,750).
While some of the traditional sports such as football, basketball and baseball have remained steady and/or experienced slight declines in the past seven years, other sports have registered significant gains since 2012. Girls’ and boys’ soccer gained 70,668 participants since 2012 (a nine percent increase) and now has a combined 853,182 participants nationwide.
The top 10 states by participants remained the same in 2018-19. Texas and California topped the list again with 825,924 and 824,709 participants, respectively, followed by New York (369,266), Ohio (339,158), Illinois (333,838), Pennsylvania (316,429), Florida (308,173), Michigan (292,947), New Jersey (281,058) and Minnesota (240,487). Only Texas, California and Minnesota reported higher figures than the previous year.
The participation survey has been compiled in its current form by the NFHS since 1971 through numbers it receives from its member state associations. The complete 2018-19 High School Athletics Participation Survey is available via the following link:
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AHSAA Media Contact: Ron Ingram, 334-263-6994
AHSAA Director of Communications
NFHS MEDIA CONTACTS: Bruce Howard, 317-972-6900
Director of Publications and Communications
National Federation of State High School Associations
Chris Boone, 317-972-6900
Assistant Director of Publications and Communications
2019 Kickoff Classic Ends just before Midnight
MONTGOMERY – Junior place-kicker Constantine Hontzas kicked a 30-yard field goal on the last play of the game Friday night to give Hoover a 17-14 win over defending Class 7A state champion Central-Phenix City Friday night at Cramton Bowl.
Hontzas’ kick came just before the stroke of midnight in Montgomery – and 1 a.m. in Phenix City (on Eastern time) and capped a dramatic second-half comeback by Coach Josh Niblett’s Bucs (1-0) to bring the AHSAA 2019 Kickoff Classic to a dramatic finish.
The game, which pitted two teams ranked in the nation’s Top 25 prep teams according to The Sporting News rankings, was by almost two hours with the kickoff finally coming at 9:07 p.m.
The wait was worth it. The battle of the state’s two best high school teams proved to be a contest of equals from start to finish.
Central, which came in riding a 14-game winning streak, got the first break recovering a Hoover fumble inside the Red Devils 15-yard line. Moments later, Joseph McKay streaked down the left sideline 62 yards to move deep inside Hoover territory. Six plays later, senior quarterback Tucker Melton connected with wideout Peter Jakes for a 7-yard TD pass and Daniel Barbosa’s extra-point kick gave Coach Jamey DuBose’s defending state champion Red Devils a 7-0 lead.
Central tacked on another TD in the second quarter with a 15-play, 77-yard march used 6:27 of the period and culminated in a 13-yard TD pass from Melton to Eddie Williams with 6:53 left in the half.
The Bucs’ Markus Clark forced a fumble midway through the third period and returned it to the Red Devils 19. Four plays later, freshman receiver R.J. Hamilton took an end-around hand off and connected with senior quarterback Robby Ashford for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Hontzas kicked the PAT and Hoover trailed 14-7 with 5:35 to play in the quarter.
Hamilton came up with his second big pay of the night just over a minute later when he hauled in a punt at his own 29 and sped 50 yards to the Central 21. Ashford’s 17-yrd pass to Cooper Tullo three plays later and Hontzas’ extra point tied the game 14-14.
The Hoover defense came up with the biggest stop of the night with 4:22 to play when Josh Smith recovered a Central fumble at the Bucs’ 3-yard line. Ashford and the Hoover offense then marched 90 yards in 12 plays to set up Hontzas’ winning kick. The ball was put in play after two straight Central time outs with three seconds left on the clock.
His kick sailed through as time expired.
Ashford finished the night 9-of-21 passing for 140 yards and a TD and also rushed for 37 yards on six carries. He had the one TD pass reception as well. Dylan Pauley led Hoover with 45 yards rushing on 14 carries and Tullo had four catches for 60 yards.
Smith had 12 tackles and his key fumble recovery to pace the defense. Matthew Palmer and Kory Chapman also had nine tackles each.
Melton was 10-of-21 passing for 92 yards for DuBose’s Red Devils (0-1). McKay also had 177 yards rushing on 27 carries, and Eddie Williams caught six passes for 57 yards. Linebacker Jadon Richardson led Central’s defense with 13 tackles.
MONTGOMERY -- Carver High School scored twice in the first half to take a 12-0 lead. The Wolverines defense came up with a goal-line stand in the final seconds of the first half that stopped Jeff Davis inside the 1-yard line turned out to be the difference as Carver downed the Vols 18-13 Thursday night at Cramton Bowl in the first game of the AHSAA 2019 Kickoff Classic. The game officially kicked off the 2019 prep football season.
The second game of the Kickoff Classic gets underway Friday night at 7 p.m. with Class 7A top-ranked Central-Phenix City, the defending state champs, taking on second-ranked Hoover. The game will be televised over the AHSAA TV Network and livestreamed over the NFHS Network. WOTM is producing the game which will also be available on several cable affiliates across the state. The Hoover and Central NFHS School Broadcast Programs will also live-stream the game and the AHSAA Radio Network will broadcast the game over its network of radio affiliates.
With Carver clinging to its 12-point lead, 202-pound Vols senior Jireh German took a handoff at the 1-yard line but was met in the hole by Wolverines linebacker Andre Howard, who stuff the play for a 2-yard loss back to the 3 as time expired in the first half.
Jeff Davis scored quickly in the third quarter when Marcus Webb, who finished with 67 yards rushing on 15 carries, sped 47 yards for s touchdown just 73 seconds into the second half. Carver responded quickly, however. Kendarius Cobb was spotted all alone on the right sideline and Williams, who completed 11-of-20 passes for 232 yards, spotted him for 65-yard TD connection.
The Wolverines defense took control for much of the rest of the game stopping the Vols at the Carver 2-yard line when Juwon Gaston made a diving interception with 3:44 left. Four plays later, Jeff Davis’ Tony Hardy recovered a Wolverines fumble in the end zone for a Jeff Davis touchdown to cut the lead to 18-13.
The Vols did get the ball back one more time at the JD 26-yard line with 54 seconds remaining. Bobby McDonald sacked Webb for s 13-yard loss on second down and Carver squeaked out the win.
Carver took the lead with 31 seconds left in the first quarter when receiver Nadarius Harris go behind a stubborn Jeff Davis defense and quarterback Kole Williams gunned a perfect pass for a 57-yard TD connection. Juwan Taylor, who had an outstanding game defensively for the Vols, blocked the kick.
Carver used 10 plays to march 64 yards to a touchdown late in the second quarter. Williams sneaked in from the 2, but it appeared that he had fumbled at the goal line with 1:47 left in the period. Carver challenged the call and after review, the Wolverines were awarded the touchdown.
Williams also rushed for 35 yards on 24 carries for Coach James Thompson’s Wolverines. Harris was Carver’s leading receiver with five catches for 119 yards and the one score. Tyrone Johnson had 11 tackles, Joshua Young and Ira Davis had eight each and Andre Howard finished with eight for the Wolverines.
Jeff Davis’ Webb was 14-of-26 passing for 189 yards to finish with 254 total yards. Reginald Summage caught nine passes for 136 yards, and Ernest George had seven rush attempts for 35 yards. Leading the Vols on defense was Juwan Taylor who had 10 tackles including three for losses.
The Vols had 331 total yards and Carver had 311.
MONTGOMERY – Hoover High School and Central-Phenix City High School have met on the football field only twice in the two schools’ storied history,
Friday night’s battle at the AHSAA Kickoff Classic may be kicking off the season for both teams, but it seems more like a Super 7 clash than a season opener.
Central won the Red Devils’ first state title since 1993 last season with a 52-7 win over Thompson in the Class 7A state finals at Auburn. Hoover beat Thompson in the regular season 45-26 to win the Region 3 title but lost in the playoffs to the Warriors 31-28 which stopped the Bucs just short of the Super 7 finals.
Hoover Coach Josh Niblett and Central Coach Jamey DuBose both have enjoyed tremendous success as head coaches. Niblett has coached the Bucs to six state titles, including the 2017 and 2016 7A crowns, and has had three runner-up finishes. DuBose coached Prattville to two state crowns in one runner-up finish before leaving for Florence and then Central. Ironically both Central and Hoover have won 54 games over the last five seasons. The Bucs are 54-14 with three state crowns and Central is 54-9 with one state title and three semifinal appearances.
The two teams will be meeting for just the third time Friday night. The Bucs are 2-0 in the series with a 21-14 first-round playoff win in 1978 and 23-7 victory in the Champions Challenge (now the Kickoff Classic) in 2016.
Friday’s game is being produced by WOTM/Broadway Communications and televised over brand-new the AHSAA TV Network managed by the NFHS Network. Executive producer Vince Earley of WOTM has quickly put together a network utilizing the presence on a large number of cable affiliates across the state as well as through the Alabama Cable Network’s channel 80 on Charter Cable. The production will be live-streamed also be live-streamed over the NFHS Network. Earley announced the addition of CTV Beam, which services East Alabama including Phenix City, to the WOTM/AHSAA family of cable affiliates Wednesday.
The Central-Hoover game features two teams ranked in the Top 25 nationally by The Sporting News and pits the Alabama Sportswriters Association pre-season No. 1 and No. 2-ranked Class 7A teams.
Both teams’ quarterbacks who are already committed – Tucker Melton of Central plans graduate early and then enroll at Bowling Green. He passed for over 1,000 yards last season as the Red Devils’ back up. Robby Ashford of Hoover, who had over 3,000 total yards as a junior, has committed to Ole Miss.
Other top Bucs include receiver Dylan Pauley and lineman David Bodden on offense and defensive standouts Jeptha Kilgore, Cordey Martin, Marcus Williams and Kory Chapman.
“This football season the goals have not changed for Central football,” said DuBose. “Every year it is win the region, win the South and win the State Championship. Every year it is a new team and we have to restart the process.”
Key returners on offense are Melton, Eddie Williams and Peter Jakes at wide receiver, Javion Cohen and Joshua Jones on the offensive line and running back Joseph McKay. Defensively, Mike Harris is a returning starter in the secondary. Linebackers Jadon Richardson and Phillip Ramsey are key leaders along with Vontavious Maddox on the defensive front.
Hoover’s Niblett said the Bucs’ goals are also the same as always. “We want to be the best that we can be. That requires a daily commitment.”
Both agree that two great teams will be on display Friday. Which one will be the best? That’s a question both teams are looking forward to finding out.
25% of Calls Challenged Were Reversed in First year
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Instant Replay program designed and administered by DVSport concluded its first season last year with 23 calls reversed from 96 challenges.
The AHSAA Instant Replay will be at nine games this week to the start of the 2019 season. Among them are both contests set for the AHSAA Kickoff Classic at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl. DVSport will be on hand for tonight’s Jeff Davis vs. Carver-Montgomery game which kicks off the Kickoff Classic at 7 p.m. Hoover will play Central-Phenix City Friday night at Cramton Bowl in the second game of the Kickoff Classic. Thar game begins at 7 p.m., as well. Both will be televised over the AHSAA TV Network by WOTM/Broadway Communications and live-streamed over the NFHS Network, which now manages the AHSAA TV Network.
WOTM will provide the video replay feed for both games.
“This will be similar to what we were able to do at last year’s Super 7 State Football Championships,” said AHSAA Director of Officials Mark Jones. “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%.
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 in 2018 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.
In addition to the Jeff Davis-Carver game, the Sidney Lanier at Baker and Callaway (GA) at Opelika contests will also be utilizing the DVSport Instant Replay tonight.
The complete slate of games scheduled to for DVSport Instant Replay this weekend include:
Jeff Davis vs. Carver-Montgoemry, Kickoff Classic, Cramton Bowl.
Sidney Lanier at Baker, Mobile
Callaway (GA) at Opelika
Hoover vs. Central-Phenix City, Kickoff Classic, Cramton Bowl.
Wilcox Central at Auburn
Hartselle at Austin
Carbon Hill at Good Hope
LaFayette at Handley
Munford at Oxford
Dothan vs. Clay-Chalkville, at Thompson HS, 3 p.m.
Davidson at Thompson, 7 p.m.
Much anticipated Central-Hoover Battle follows Friday
MONTGOMERY -- The Jeff Davis-Carver-Montgomery rivalry has had some outstanding moments over the last 50 years. Thursday night’s battle in the AHSAA’s 14th annual Kickoff Classic high school football season opener takes center stage and both coaches look forward to it.
This game is almost “family.”
“We were college teammates and it will be fun,” said Carver head coach James Thompson. “We kind of joke and laugh in the off-season, but come Thursday night it will be serious business. May the best team win?”
Jeff Davis head coach Lee Carter sees a chance for both programs put their best foot forward – as friends off the field but rivals on the field. It starts with the two head coaches’ long-time friendship.
“Coach Thompson he’s more than a teammate … he is a friend,” said Carter. “It’s kind of like we both became men together. We both came to Alabama State when we were 18 or 19 years old. We also played the same position, so we not only sat in team meetings together but in position meetings as well.
“We (now) live in the same neighborhood so I know him and he knows me. It’s going to be interesting.”
The two teams will be meeting for the 51st time Thursday night at Cramton Bowl in the first game of the 2019 Kickoff Classic. Defending Class 7A state champion Central-Phenix City will meet Hoover, the 7A champs in 2017 and 2016, in game two at Cramton Bowl Friday night at 7 p.m. Both games will be produced by WOTM/Broadway Communications and televised over brand-new the AHSAA TV Network managed by the NFHS Network. Executive producer Vince Earley of WOTM has quickly put together a network utilizing the WOTM presence on a large number of cable affiliates across the state as well as through the Alabama Cable Network’s channel 80 on Charter Cable. The production will be live-streamed also be live-streamed over the NFHS Network. Earley announced the addition of CTV Beam, which services East Alabama including Phenix City, to the WOTM/AHSAA family of cable affiliates Wednesday.
The Central-Hoover game features two teams ranked in the Top 25 nationally by The Sporting News and pits the Alabama Sportswriters Association pre-season No. 1 and No. 2-ranked Class 7A teams.
While Friday’s game may garner national attention, Thursday’s game features two of the fiercest rivals in a city that battles annually for the Big Five title (with Robert E. Lee, Sidney Lanier and Park Crossing high schools).
Jeff Davis and Carver played for the first time in 1970 – two years after Jeff Davis opened its doors as a new school in Montgomery and two years after the AHSAA and AIAA merged to form the current Alabama High School Athletic Association. The Vols and Wolverines have played every year since.
The two city rivals of the MCPS have opened the season with each other 13 times in the series and closed the regular season 11 times. The current 36-14 edge in the series held by Jeff Davis is misleading. The Vols won the first 18 meetings and the Wolverines had won 10 of the last 13. Since that early domination, the series has been nip-and-tuck with Jeff Davis winning 18 and Carver claiming 14.
Only once in the series have the two schools played twice. Carver won the regular season game in 1992 27-24 in overtime but the Vols rebounded to beat the Wolverines 20-0 in the first game of the state playoffs.
The history is rich at both schools. Carver has seen at least 10 of its former players reach the NFL – including Aundray Bruce, who the first player was picked in the NFL Draft out of Auburn in 1988. He spent 11 years in the pros from 1988-1998. Jeff Davis has sent at least nine players to the NFL, including Alabama defensive back George Teague, who was in the pros from 1993-2001. In fact, as many as four players from both schools have been in the NFL at the same time.
Carver alumnus linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton is currently with the Washington Redskins as well as linebacker Mack Wilson, who is currently in the Cleveland Browns camp.
Thompson says the Wolverines are doing things “The Carver Way. Our motto is commitment, habits, sacrifice, hence CHS,” he said. “I feel the thing that sets us apart is our mindset and mentality and how it aligns with our ultimate goal of being the very best.”
Quarterback Kole Williams, who has already committed to Jacksonville State, is back to lead the offense. He had 600 yards rushing, 950 passing and accounted for 27 touchdowns in 2018. Offensive linemen James Robinson and Kientre McDaniel have already committed to Tennessee and Jackson State, respectively. Andre Howard anchors a strong defense at linebacker, and the defensive backfield as a unit may be the number one strength of the team.
Jeff Davis finished 3-7 last season enduring what Carter called “a series of horrific incidents and injuries that we have worked hard to put behind us. He has 22 seniors who have committed themselves to demonstrating a commitment to discipline.”
The Vols closed the season with two straight wind, “That momentum has been important,” he said. “I think our senior group is the most talented we have had in my six years as head coach. We have a strong receiving corps and our offensive and defensive line is massive.”
All eyes will be on talented athlete Marcus Webb, who rushed for 1,500 yards on 307 carries last season. Receiver Reggie Summage caught 37 passes for 493 yards and Jireh German anchors a much-improved defense at linebacker. Like Carver, the Vols have the nucleus of a very strong defensive backfield led by Tavares Womack, Rance Lee and Summage.
The television availability is shown in the attached chart.
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