MONTGOMERY – Eleven major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama have been selected from an outstanding field of 48 nominations for induction into the 29th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame next March.
The 2019 class, which includes an “old-timer,” will be inducted at the 27th annual banquet at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa, March 18, 2019.
Selected for induction are football coaches Phil Lazenby, David Lowery, Willie Carl Martin, Billy Odom and Ronnie Sikes; basketball coaches Carolyn Wright and Scheussler Ware; track coach Claborn Campbell; baseball coach Mark Mincher; basketball official Johnny Robertson; and longtime coach and administrator Reynolds “R.C.” Cook, chosen in the old-timers’’ division. Mr. Cook is deceased.
Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate partners include Alabama Power, ALFA, Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, Jack’s, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
Veteran sportscaster Jeff Shearer will emcee the banquet. The NFHS Network is scheduled to live-stream the banquet.
The first class was inducted in 1991. These 11 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 353.
A profile of each selectee:
CLABORN CAMPBELL: Campbell, 65, graduated from Cold Spring High School and Southern Benedictine College – then returned as a high school teacher and coach spending the bulk of his years in education at his alma mater Cold Springs (1979-83 & 1999-2018). He also had coaching stints at Winston County and West Point.
Considered one of the top track coaches in the state, he helped coach the Eagles’ boys to two state track titles and had four teams finish runner-up. His West Point and Cold Springs girls’ track teams won 17 Cullman County championships. He also directed the Cold Springs girls and boys to three state cross country crowns and had seven runner-up finishes.
A dedicated coach and devout man of faith, he has been inducted into the Cullman County Sports Hall of Fame, was an AHSAA Making A Difference Award recipient in 2016, was selected NFHS Alabama Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2017 (girls) and 2016 (boys). U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named him Alabama Boys’ Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2014.
REYNOLDS G. COOK (OLDTIMER Division): Cook, now deceased, was born in 1913 and graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1933. He earned his college degree from Troy State Teachers College in 1950. He earned his master’s in 1964.
He began his teaching and coaching at Williams School in Montgomery, then moved to Union Springs High School in 1952 where he remained in various capacities through 1974.
He coached Union Springs’ only undefeated 10-0 football team in 1956 – earning him Birmingham Post-Herald Class 1A Coach of the Year. His 1957 team was 9-1 and participated in the prestigious Peanut Bowl at Dothan. As a basketball coach he had two teams go undefeated through the regular season – combining for a 46-2 record in 1963-64 and 1964-65.
He also coached baseball and helped bring the Alabama Lions Club regional East-West Baseball Game to Union Springs for several years. He also coached Union Springs to signature baseball victories over his much larger alma mater Sidney Lanier and its rival Robert E. Lee. He founded the youth baseball programs for Union Springs and remained active for many years.
He left coaching to become the Superintendent of Education in Bullock County – guiding the school system through 1974. He also served as president of the TSU Alumni Association and was District Governor of the Alabama Lions International.
PHIL LAZENBY: A graduate of Bessemer High School (1968) and Samford University (1974), Lazenby, 68, also received a master’s in education from the University of Montevallo in 1979. He played on Samford University’s 1971 National Championship football team and was selected Most Valuable Defensive Player for SU in 1973.
He embarked on a long-time career in teaching and coaching, first as an assistant football and head tennis coach at Bessemer’s Jess Lanier High School (1976-1980). He then moved to Mountain Brook where he served as defensive coordinator and assistant principal (1981-90).
He became a head coach, first at Guntersville (1991-95), was at Southside-Gadsden for one year in 1996, then moved to Benjamin Russell (1997-2000) and currently is at Bayside Academy (2007-present). He spent 2001-2006 at UMS-Wright as assistant coach and strength & conditioning coach. His overall head-coaching record is 169-89 with two state championship game appearances at Benjamin Russell and one at Bayside Academy. His teams had just two losing seasons in 21 years and have reached the state playoffs 17 times.
Lazenby coached as an assistant and head coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, was ASWA Coach of the Year in 1997, 2011 and 2015 and has served as a past president of the Alabama Football Coaches Association. Lazenby was inducted into the Samford Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. He served in the U.S. Army infantry reaching the rank of First Sergeant with tours in Europe and Central America.
DAVID LOWERY: A native of Butler County, Lowery, 53, graduated from Georgiana High School in 1983, Troy University in 1988 and earned a master’s at AUM in 1998. Hs first teaching/coaching position was at Evergreen High School in 1988. He moved to Elba High School as assistant coach and defensive coordinator from 1989-1998. He also was head baseball coach leading the Tigers to the playoff semifinals in 1993 and 1994. He was head football coach two years (1995-1996).
He then moved to Brantley High School where he was head football coach and athletic director from 1999-2013. He had an amazing run compiling a 156-27 overall record and 88-3 region record. His teams won the Class 1A state football title in 2009 and 2012 and finished runner-up in 1999 and 2005.
Lowery was named ASWA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 1999 and ALFCA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 2012. Brantley High School named the football field David Lowery Stadium in 2013, and he was inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
WILLIE CARL MARTIN: The Alexander City native and outstanding high school football lineman graduated from Laurel High School in 1969. He attended Northeastern Oklahoma on football scholarship. He was selected in the summer of 1969 to participate in the North-South All-Star Game – as one of the first three black participants in the game’s history.
After a successful playing career in the Canadian Football League (CFL), Martin, 67, returned to Alexander City and began a teaching and coaching career at Benjamin Russell High School that spanned the next 25 years. He served as an assistant football coach from 1985-2001 directing a defense that allowed only 12.32 points a game over a 15-year period. He served as head football coach from 2001-2006. He compiled a 51-24 record during that span and captured the school’s only state football title in in his first year in 2001.
Martin’s leadership expanded to the AHSAA where he served on the District 4 Board and Central Board from 2003-2007.
He was hired in 2007 to serve on the University of Alabama football staff as Director of Player Development, a role he kept until 2015 when he retired. In May of that year, Alexander City celebrated Willie Carl Martin Day (on May 12) as the city honored the native son who served as a trailblazer throughout his career.
MARK MINCHER: Mincher graduated from Hazel Green High School in Madison County in 1975, got his college degree from Memphis State University in 1975 and later earned a master’s in administration from Alabama A&M.
The son of former Major League baseball standout Don Mincher embarked on a career in education in 1980 that lasted more than three decades. He coached football, boys’ and girls’ basketball and baseball at Monrovia Middle School for two years before moving to Sparkman High School in 1982. He became head baseball coach in 1983. He moved to Huntsville High School as head baseball coach in 1985, a position he held for the next 28 years. He compiled a 576-353 baseball-coaching record with 12 city championships, eight area titles, 18 state playoff appearances and one Class 6A state championship (2011).
Mincher also served as HHS athletic director during that time and became an important mentor for other teachers and coaches, not only at his school but throughout Huntsville, Madison County and the state.
He was recognized as the Huntsville City baseball coach of the year numerous times, was named AlaBCA Coach of the Year (6A) and NFHS State Baseball Coach of the Year in 2011. Mincher was inducted into the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. He was chosen HCPTA Secondary Principal of the Year in 2015.
BILLY ODOM: Odom, 68, graduated from Baker High School in Mobile in 1968 and from Mississippi College in 1972. He served as a teacher and head football coach at Baker High School for 14 seasons (1972-87), moved to Murphy as an assistant coach from 1989-91 and returned to head coaching at Alba High School from 1992-1997.
His Alba team won the region title in 1994.
Odom’s work as a coach and teacher was just part of his many contributions. He also played a key volunteer role in the development and administration of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game in Mobile from its inception in 1988. He has been a key administrative coach for that game ever since – heading into his 33rd year. He has also served as the South team manager for the Senior Bowl College All-Star Game for the last three decades.
Recognized as one of Mobile County’s most dependable volunteers, he received the prestigious Bob Pannone Service Award in 2017 and was recognized by the L’Arche Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012
JOHNNY ROBERTSON (Contest Official): This Sidney Lanier 1965 graduate has been one of the state’s top basketball officials more than 50 years. Robertson, 71, served in 17 of 18 AHSAA state basketball tournaments from 1982-1999.
Recognized by the his peers and the AHSAA for his teaching skills, he served as AHSAA state rules clinician from 1981-1999, has been a Regional Tournament coordinator ever since the regional and state final four basketball format was instituted in 1994 and has been the South Central District Director for Officials since 1999. He has been serving as State Rules Interpreter since 2008. Robertson helped institute the state officials’ camps and has been the State Camp Director since 2008. He received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2008.
Robertson also officiated high school football from 1972-1987, and he officiated baseball from 1972-1974.
Active in church and civic affairs in Montgomery, he has served in various positions of civic leadership including serving as president of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, was Division 9 Lt. Governor for the Kiwanis from 2007-2009 and has also served as president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the River Region.
RONNIE SIKES: A native of Randolph County, Sikes, 59, graduated from Randolph County High School in Wedowee in 1977 and from Auburn University in 1981. He also attended Southern Union Community College and received a master’s degree from Auburn University (1987).
The veteran football coach began his career in high school education in 1981 with stints at Valley High School (1981-1984), Notasulga (1984-1988), Mortimer Jordan (1988-1990), and Beulah (1990-1992) before returning to Notasulga in 1992. He served as head football coach for the Blue Devils for 12 years compiling a 91-51 record. He then moved to Lanett from 2004-2009. He has coached and taught at Georgia public schools since 2013. While at Notasulga his teams compiled a 25-game winning streak with his 2001 team capturing Class 1A state runner-up. He rebuilt the Lanett program in a short time becoming the coach to lead the Panthers to the school's first 12-1 season since 1976.
Sikes coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game twice and also coached in the North-South All-Star Game. He was named O-A News Coach of the Year in 1998.
SCHUESSLER WARE: Anniston High School’s long-time boys’ head basketball coach graduated from AHS in 1974 and Talladega College in 1978. He earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Jacksonville State University.
Ware, 60, began teaching and coaching at his high school alma mater in 1979 – spending his entire career with the Anniston City Schools. He became head basketball coach in 1997 and for the next 20 years his teams compiled a 420-168 record with two state championships, the Class 5A title in 2002 and the 4A championship in 2009. Anniston made five State Final Four appearances, five Northeast Regional titles and seven Calhoun County championships during his tenure.
He was chosen Calhoun County Coach of the Year nine times, AHSAA Class 5A (2002) and Class 4A (2009) Coach of the Year, and saw 12 of his teams win 20 or more games in a season. Only one team had a losing record but still won the area title, and two years later the program rebounded to go 27-6 and reach the Northeast Regional tourney.
He is active in his church and community serving as an Elder at First United Presbyterian Church.
CAROLYN WRIGHT: Mrs. Wright, 62, graduated from Tuskegee Institute High School in 1974 and from Alabama State University in 1978. She earned a master’s in specific learning disability.
She has spent the last 40 years teaching and coaching, primarily at Central High School in Phenix City. She became the head girls’ basketball coach at Central in 1991 and begins the 2018 season with a 498-281 record. She guided the Lady Red Devils to a 26-4 record in 2016-17 and a berth in the Class 7A State Tournament after winning the Central Regional title. Her teams have had just two losing seasons and finished 29-5 in 2005 to set a school girls’ record for basketball wins in a season.
Wright, who also coaches volleyball at Central, served as girls’ track coach from 1992-2007 with 14 individuals or relay teams winning state event titles. Her volleyball team reached the Super Regional tourney in 2014.
She serves in several other leadership roles include department chair for the health and PE department (1991-2008) at Central, and is also currently assistant athletic director. She served on the AHSAA Strategic Planning Committee in 2016.
Her husband Bobby Wright, the Central boys’ basketball coach, was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. With over 600 wins, the husband-wife duo have more basketball games than any other husband-wife coaching duo state history. The couple now have the distinction of being just the second husband-wife tandem to be selected to be enshrined in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The first were Tom and Lynette Calvin.
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control unanimously approved Wednesday assistance for Cottonwood High School (CHS), which suffered significant damage during last week’s weather assault on the Wiregrass by Hurricane Michael. The action came during the Central Board’s quarterly meeting at the AHSAA Wednesday.
The Board also approved budgets for the upcoming 2018 Super 7 football championships at Auburn University Dec. 5-7 and the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game scheduled for Cramton Bowl Dec. 17.
David Holtsford of the AHSAA gave the Central Board a preview of the re-designed AHSAA website and AHSAANOW that is planned to be unveiled Nov. 1, and Denise Ainsworth gave an analysis of the AHSAA’s various future media options.
In other Central Board action:
-Heard a report on Super 7 from Knight Eady Sports spokesman Michael McGreevey
-Approved the 2018 Summer Conference Profit-Loss Statements
-Approved clarification of Rule III, Section 15 (Coaching Outside the School Year)
-Approved pictures to be required on all AHSAA-issued cards beginning with the 2019-20 school year
-Heard an update on School Audits and School Catastrophic Insurance
-Received an update on a survey studying officials’ compensation
-Approved dates for future board meetings (Jan. 30, 2019, April 10, 2019 and July 24, 2019)
47 AHSAA Events Set for NFHS Network Live-Stream Thru Sept. 6
MONTGOMERY – The NFHS Network’s AHSAA School Broadcast Program will live-stream three varsity football games Thursday night and 21 on Friday as the high school season moves into week 1.
The headliner, Daphne (1-0) at Spanish Fort (0-0), will be the AHSAA’s Game of the Week. The Spanish Fort High School NFHS Network School Broadcast Program, headed by producer Brian Williamson, will produce the game.
Daphne opened its season last week with a 16-13 win over Theodore, and Spanish Fort played a pre-season game during Week Zero with McGill-Toolen Catholic, which won 48-13.
The Trojans are coached by Kenny King and the Toros are coached by Ben Blackmon. Spanish Fort holds a 5-1 edge in the state’s newest series.
Other games of note include, on Thursday, Sidney Lanier (0-1) at Lee-Montgomery (1-0) in the 64th playing of that legendary series at Cramton Bowl, and Geneva at Geneva County in one of the state’s top small-school rivalries set for Hartford Friday night. The series is resuming for the first time since 2003 with the Panthers holding a 39-34-2 edge. The two teams first played in 1926 and played yearly from 1950-2003.
Decatur (1-0) will also face Austin (0-1) in one of the state’s top big-school rivalries on Friday with that game making history as it becomes the first game played at the Black Bears’ new stadium. The series, which dates back to 1965, has been played every year since then at Decatur’s Ogle Stadium.
Other key rival games to be showcased Friday are Opelika at Auburn, Homewood at Vestavia Hills, Charles Henderson at Enterprise, Elba at Opp, Tuscaloosa County at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa and Red Bay at Phil Campbell.
Red Bay holds a 46-30-0 edge in the Tigers’ longest running series with Phil Campbell, which has been played annually since 1946 except for one year (1950). It is the Bobcats’ second longest series. The first is with rival Hackleburg – Phil Campbell’s opponent for the final week of the regular season. That series began in 1926 and this year’s meeting on Nov. 1 will be the 83rd of the Northwest Alabama rivalry.
The NFHS Network has 11 varsity volleyball matches, eight JV matches and two freshmen matches set Aug. 29 through Sept. 6. Homewood and John Carroll Catholic will be one of six matches featured Thursday at 6 p.m., and Spain Park at Hoover will be one of five matches live-streamed on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
NFHS Network subscribers will have access to all the games. To subscribe to the NFHS Network, click on:
The complete AHSAA schedule of events set to be live-streamed over the NFHS Network August 29 through Sept. 6 are listed.
MONTGOMERY – Etowah High School Coach Drew Noles says his big 6-foot-6, 240-pound senior defensive end Jamin Graham is not committed – to any college yet.
But he also says, he has never seen a player more committed – to his team and to his grandfather.
Graham turned that commitment into two defensive touchdowns in the final 1:15 of the Blue Devils’ season-opening game versus Gadsden City August 23 as Etowah posted a 32-23 victory.
His granddad, longtime Etowah School System teacher, bus driver and coach James Graham, passed away on August 18. Mr. Graham’s funeral was the next day.
“It was just an amazing effort,” Noles said. “Jamin was extremely close to his grandfather, who was a legend in the town to Attalla. Jasmin dedicate that game to his grandfather. Hs is a great kid from a great family. I think it was the best game of his high school career.”
Jasmin Graham’s performance grabbed the AHSAA Prep Spotlight for the first week of the AHSAA high school football season – a week where outstanding performances were plentiful.
None, however, was more inspiring than his efforts.
Gadsden City, holding a slim 23-20 lead late in the game, had a goal-line stand stopping Etowah on four downs inside the 2-yard line. With 1:15 remaining, the Titans had an errant snap sail into the end zone where Graham was there to recover for an Etowah touchdown.
Coach Bart Sessions’ team then drove quickly into Etowah territory following the kickoff. With eight seconds remaining, however, Graham broke through to sack the runner at the Blue Devils 25-yard line, forcing a fumble that he scooped up and returned for the game’s final touchdown.
Noles said he expected the packed crowd on hand to storm the field in celebration. “Instead, I think they were standing up in awe,” he said. “And Jasmine, well, I was so happy for him that it brought tears to my own eyes. But Jasmin just acted like he’d done this kind of thing many times before.”
The win was the first over Gadsden City since the school was formed by merging Gadsden, Emma Sansom and Litchfield in 2006. The two schools met four times (2006-09) with the Titans winning all four, but discontinued the series until this season.
Graham’s heroics edged out several outstanding efforts, including a super effort by Oxford’s defense in its 28-0 shutout of Munford and Hewitt-Trussville senior quarterback Paul Tyson’s 404-yard passing effort in the Huskies’ 34-30 loss to Cedar Grove (GA) in a game played at Hoover High School and televised live by ESPN. Tyson was 31-of-47 passing with four TD passes.
Coach Ryan Herring’s Oxford defense limited Munford to minus-34 yards on 33 rush attempts and held the Lions to just 50 yards total offense as the Yellow Jackets shut out Munford 28-0 for Oxford’s 22nd straight regular season victory dating back to 2015. Quarterback Trey Higgins connected with 6-4, 220-pound receiver Roc Taylor for eight completions, 149 yards and one score for Oxford. iggins Higgins finished 13-of-18 for 180 yards and two TDs.
Three other quarterbacks, Thompson’s Taulia Tagolailovoa, Hoover’s Robby Ashford and Calera’s Cornelius Brown all passed for 350 or more yards in their season openers. Tagovailova was 26-of-39 passing for 385 yards and four touchdowns in Thompson’s 38-7 Champions Challenge win over James Clemens. He had 309 yards at the half.
Ashford, making his first start as defending Class 7A state champion Hoover’s quarterback, was 23-of-34 with 383 yards and four TDs in the Bucs’ 52-14 win over Pinson Valley – ending the defending Class 6A Indians’ winning streak at 15 games. Brown completed 27-of-48 passes for 357 yards and two TDs in a 45-24 loss to Pelham.
Other highlights for Week Zero included:
JUSTIN TEMPLETON, ASBURY: Ran for two touchdowns as Coach Jeff Powell’s Rams won the first game in program history and christened their new stadium with a 19-7 victory over Brindlee Mountain. The Class 2A school had its first varsity season in 2016 – going 0-10 that year and in 2017.
JACOB LOCKHART, THORSBY: Rushed for 100 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns, one coming on an 85-yard kickoff return, as Thorsby beat Jemison 44-26 for the first win over its Chilton County rival since 1970. More than 2,300 attended the season opener. Jemison holds a 14-2 lead in the series which started in 1968 and was resumed last Friday for the first time since 1995. The Panthers won the previous six meetings (1982, 1983, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995) by a combined score of 244-0.
MAC YOUNG, WHITE PLAINS: Ran for 143 yards with touchdowns of 43 and 29 yards in a 49-18 victory over Vincent. It was the first time White Plains has opened the season with a win since 2013.
TYLER DANZEY, HEADLAND: Danzey tied a state record with two interceptions returned for touchdowns in Headland’s 43-0 win over Straughn. Danzey returned his first interception 46 yards for a score late in the second quarter to put Headland up 30-0. He added a 19 yard interception return for a touchdown in the early moments of the third quarter. Danzey also finished with nine tackles.
MICAH DORSEY, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: The linebacker had eight tackles and an interception in the Eagles’ 35-10 win over New Brockton. His milestone came off the field when he recently scored a perfect 36 on his ACT college entrance exam.
JONATHAN FELL, CARROLL: The running back rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries as Carroll beat Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee 33-6 for Eagles’ 24th straight regular-season win.
ZYQUEZ PERRYMAN, PLEASANT GROVE: Completed 16-of-23 passes for 268 yards and three TDs in a 34-27 victory over Mortimer Jordan.
GRANT THORNTON, ENTERPRISE: Was a near perfect 19-of-20 passing for 266 yards
and three touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 44-21 win over Dothan. He completed the last 16 passes of the game with his only miss coming on his fourth pass attempt in the game’s opening series.
WILL BAILEY, DAR: Was 19-of-28 passing for 251 yards and rushed for 87 yards as the Patriots rolled up more than 500 yards total offense in a 58-33 setback to Westminster Christian.
TRENTIN DUPPER, DECATUR: Passed for 224 yards and four touchdowns covering 17, 37, 29 and 34 yards in the Red Raider’ 38-21 win over Huntsville.
LUKE JACKSON, JACKSONVILLE: Passed for 219 yards and three touchdowns with a 10-of-15 performance as the Golden Eagles beat J.B. Pennington 34-21.
BO NIX, PINSON VALLEY: Completed 20-of-41 passes for 210 yards and one TD in a 52-14 loss to Hoover.
BRETT NEZAT, SARALAND: Making his first start at quarterback for the Spartans, he passed for 201 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 41-3 win over Andalusia.
REECE SOLAR, ALABAMA CHRISTIAN: Was 17-of-26 passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown for 301 total yards in a 35-22 loss to Saks. He also had three punts, averaging 54 yards with his longest going for 60 yards.
STROTHER GIBBS, MOUNTAIN BROOK: Completed 11-of-15 for 174 yards and a TD and added another 51 yards rushing and two TDs in a 30-14 victory over Northridge.
KALVIN LEVETT, TALLASSEE: Completed 8-of-14 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 20 times for 146 yards and a 38-yard TD as the Tigers downed Montgomery Catholic 28-7.
COLE SAUNDERS, GENEVA COUNTY: The Bulldogs quarterback accounted for 244 yards and four scores, including two in the second half to help Geneva County rally past Samson 41-33. He completed 6-of-7 passes for 164 yards, including a 65-yard TD pass to Colby Fuller, and added 80 yards rushing on 21 carries with TD runs of 14, 7 and 3 yards, including the final two scores of the game in the comeback win.
DAMARIUS JENKINS, DALE COUNTY: Warrior quarterback accounted for 200 yards and three touchdowns in Dale County’s 41-19 win over Ariton. He completed 4-of-8 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 26 yards on four carries with one touchdown.
BRYCE PALMER, WATERLOO: Threw for 195 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-7 win over Woodville. Palmer also intercepted two passes on defense, returning one 52 yards for a touchdown.
EASTIN HARDIN, BOAZ: Was 10-of-17 passing for 191 yards and one TD in the Pirates’ 42-17 win over Arab.
TYQUAN RAWLS, WETUMPKA: Becoming the starter after All-State quarterback J.D. Martin’s pre-season injury, Rawls completed 9-of-15 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-17 win over Fairhope.
JACKSON COX, WESTBROOK CHRISTIAN: Completed 7-of-12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown in the Warriors’ 35-6 victory over Coosa Christian.
TONY FRANKLIN, LEE-MONTGOMERY: Had 168 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 26-15 win over Park Crossing.
COLE WALES, CLEMENTS: Completed 10-of-22 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns (12, 25 and 18 yards), added a 2-point conversion pass and made an interception on defense in the Colts’ 29-0 win at Elkmont.
A.J. PHILLIPS, CHICKASAW: Had 14 rush attempts for 275 yards and three touchdowns in Chickasaw’s 32-12 win over Resurrection Catholic (MS). He also returned an interception 40 yards for a fourth score.
SHAMAR SPINKS, WEAVER: Needed just 17 carries to pile up 265 yards rushing Friday night as the Bearcats ran past Cleburne County 49-35. Spinks scored three touchdowns and teammate Robert Gaines added 113 rushing yards, 136 passing and two TDs. Spinks scored on runs of 1, 54 and 53 yards. Gaines threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Josh Lowe and an 8-yard opposite-hander to Caleb Allison.
MEL DANTSLER, GRISSOM: The workhorse running back had 38 rush attempts for 249 yards and four touchdowns (10, 3, 10 and 5 yards) in a 26-21 win over Hazel Green.
NOAH TURBYFILL, BROOKS: Rushed 11 times for 255 yards and three scores, returned an interception 64 yards for another touchdown and recovered a botched punt in the end zone for a fifth TD as the Lions beat Lauderdale Count 55-0.
CHRISTIAN COLLINS, BOAZ: The senior rushed for 243 yards on 29 carries and scored four touchdowns to lead Boaz to a 42-17 win over Arab in the season opener for both teams. Collins scored touchdowns on runs of 49, 3, 3, and 12.
NICK MARTINDALE, WEST LIMESTONE: Had 29 carries for 237 yards and four touchdowns on runs of 6, 34, 4 and 26 yards in a season-opening win over Tanner 39-20.
RISHARD DENSMORE, BESSEMER CITY: Gained 191 yards rushing, 150 in the second half, and rushed for two touchdowns in a 21-14 victory over Huffman He also passed for 94 yards and one score to account for 285 of the team's 336 yards of total offense.
CLAY CRAFTON, ROGERS: Ran 21 times for 174 yards and three touchdown as Rogers beat Loretto (TN) 35-14.
JOSH MARTIN, MARY MONTGOMERY: Rushed for 173 yards on 31 carries and scored two touchdowns as the Vikings snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 14-0 win over Robertsdale.
JALEN HENDERSON, SPAIN PARK: Ran 31 times for 172 yards and scored two TDs in a 24-14 victory over Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa.
IAN THIES, WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN: Ran for 163 yards and two scores on 10 carries, and completed 9-of-17 passes for 162 yards and two TDs in a 58-33 win at DAR.
CAMERON FAISON, REELTOWN: Scored every touchdown for the Rebels in s 35-8 win over Bullock County. He ran for 155 yards and four touchdowns and returned a kickoff 75 yards for his fifth score.
SYMON SMITH, UMS-WRIGHT: Picked up 151 yards rushing on 38 carries and scored the game's only touchdown as UMS-Wright defeated St. Paul's 10-0 in the Battle of Old Shell Road. UMS-Wright won the Class 4A state title last season and St. Paul’s won the 5A state crown.
CARSON PETREE, THARPTOWN: Rushed 10 times for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns, threw a TD pass and caught a TD pass as Tharptown knocked off Shoals Christian 41-30.
KEON HORNSBY, SAMSON: Rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and added a 5-yard TD reception in the Tigers’ 41-33 loss to Geneva County.
TERRANCE WEBSTER, CARVER-MONTGOMERY: Had 16 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns in a 19-3 win over Jeff Davis.
TRE AUSMER, HOMEWOOD: Caught four passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 18-7 victory over Hueytown.
JA’VARRIOUS JOHNSON, HEWIT-TRUSSVILLE: Snared 11 catches for 151 yards and two TDs in the Huskies’ 34-30 loss to Cedar Grove (GA).
JAEDEN BARKSDALE, JACKSONVILLE: Caught five passes for 128 yards and two TDs (40 and 81 yards) in the Eagles’ 34-21 win over J.B. Pennington.
ROYDELL WILLIAMS, HUEYTOWN: Caught seven passes for 127 yards and a 28-yard score in the Gophers’ 18-7 loss to Homewood. He also rushed for 51 yards on 16 carries.
TAYLOR SMITH, BOAZ: Caught four passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns covering 33 and 18 yards in the Pirates’ 42-17 win over Boaz.
MICHAEL PETTWAY, THOMPSON: The junior receiver had five catches for 118 yards and two scores, both coming in the first quarter, covering 27 and 53 yards, in the Warriors’ 38-7 win over James Clemens at the Champions Challenge played at Cramton Bowl.
KEYONTEZE JOHNSON, PINSON VALLEY: Pulled down 11 receptions for 119 yards and a TD in the Indians’ 52-14 loss to Hoover.
SIDNEY WILLIAMS, VIGOR: Hauled in three touchdown passes covering 14, 36 and 62 yards as the Wolves snapped a three-year losing streak to arch-rival Blount 19-6.
JIMMY PITTS, NOTASULGA: Had two pass receptions for 87 yards and two scores, returned a punt 36 yards for a TD and also had an interception on defense to lead the Blue Devils to a 46-7 win over Barbour County.
CHRISTOPHER HOLIFIELD, LEFLORE: Caught five passes for 97 yards and one TD, had 51 yards rushing and also returned an interception 43 yards for a score in a 26-14 win over B.C. Rain. He finished with two interceptions and had another nullified on a penalty.
JEFFREY LIGHTNER, DALE COUNTY: Had 13 tackles, an interception and an 81-yard kickoff return in the Warriors’ 41-19 win over Ariton. Teammate Avery Beasley also had 13 tackles and Tanner Mathis had 11.
CONNER GERMAN & DRE NEWMAN, HEADLAND: German was in on 15 tackles and Newman earned nine tackles in the Rams’ 43-0 win over Straughn.
A.J. CHERRY, SHEFFIELD: Swiped two interceptions to help preserve Sheffield’s 22-7 win over Wilson.
BRANDON BUTTS, PRATTVILLE: Blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt and returned it 51 yards for the senior defensive back's first career touchdown in the Lions' 37-0 win over Foley.
SAMUEL ADKINSON, GENEVA COUNTY: Returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown and recorded 10 tackles, including four solos, in a 41-33 win over Samson.
DYLAN BONNER, ASHFORD: Recorded 10 tackles, and forced a fumble in the Yellow Jackets’ 31-7 win over Rehobeth. Teammate Noah Jackson also had 10 stops on defense and added 89 yards rushing.
J’DARIUS WASHINGTON, LEE-MONTGOMERY: Returned an interception 35 yards for a TD in the Generals’ 26-15 win over Park Crossing.
JACKSON COLLEY & WILL SOLOMON, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: Both returned interceptions for touchdowns, helping the Eagles to a 35-10 win over New Brockton. Colley finished with seven tackles and Solomon five.
PHILLIP DUKE, PELHAM: Intercepted two passes and added four tackles in a 45-24 victory over Calera.
TIMOTHY KEENAN, RAMSAY: The Rams’ defensive lineman intercepted a pass and anchored a stingy defense in a 13-8 victory over Minor.
DIEGO GUAJARDO, DAPHNE: Kicked three field goals, an extra point and added a 12-yard run on a fake field-goal try as Daphne knocked off Theodore 16-13.
JASON PEREZ, COLLINSVILLE: Connected on two 38-yard field goal attempts, an extra point, and had three punts totaling 94 yards in the Panthers’ 13-0 victory over Plainview. The two DeKalb County teams were meeting for the first time since 1979. He also booted two of his three kickoffs into the end zone and the other sailed to the 5-yard line.
CHRISTIAN HERNANDEZ, DALE COUNTY: Kicked two field goals (43 and 28 yards) and converted three point-after kicks in the Warriors’ 41-19 win over Ariton.
LARRY McCAMMON, HOOVER: Returned a kickoff 91 yards for a score in the Bucs’ 52-14 victory over Pinson Valley.
ROBERT MARSH, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: Scored Central’s first TD on an 80-yard kickoff return as the Red Devils went on to score five different ways in a 42-18 win over Benjamin Mays of Atlanta in the Cam Newton Classic. The Red Devils also scored on a 69-yard pass, a 65-yard run, a blocked punt and a 27-yard interception return.
BIRMINGHAM, AL – The Board of Directors of the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program are proud to announce an increase in the amount of its scholarship awards beginning in 2019. The annual scholarship program, founded in 1986 in partnership between the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF) and the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA), annually recognizes the state’s best and brightest high school student-athletes.
Beginning with the 34th Annual Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Awards Banquet on Monday, April 8, 2019, each level, from regional winners to class winners, to the two overall winners, will receive an increase in the amount of scholarship dollars awarded by the Bryant-Jordan Foundation.
The increases are as follows:
104 Regional Winners will increase from $2,500 to $3,000,
14 Class Winners go from $3,000 to $3,500 and,
2 Overall Winners are increasing from $3,000 to $4,000 each!
In total, the 104 Bryant-Jordan Regional Winners will each receive a $3,000 scholarship; 14 Class Winners will receive $6,500; and the 2 Overall Winners will each be awarded a total of $10,500 -- $321,000 overall and an increase of $61,000 over the previous scholarship payout. The initial payout in the first year of the program in 1986 was $32,000 in total.
In addition, several other individuals and organizations have also joined the Bryant-Jordan Program and present additional scholarships as well. Since the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program’s inception, approximately 3,000 senior student-athletes have received more than $10 million in scholarships.
This increase marks the first time the Bryant-Jordan Foundation has raised the scholarship amounts since April 2009. Board Chairman, Edgar Welden said, “With the continuing rise in college tuition, we feel that this increase is very timely. From the beginning, it has been the mission of this program to grow in order to affect as many young lives as possible. We’re extremely pleased with this initiative in order to award these young men and women for the outstanding achievements." AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said, “On behalf of our member schools and our student-athletes, we are extremely grateful for our partnership with the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Bryant-Jordan Program. There is no other scholarship program anywhere like it.The Bryant-Jordan Program not only provides educational opportunities for our students, but they have also been able to shine the light just how much educational athletics makes a difference in the lives of our young people. It has also been able to showcase the poignant struggles and successes of so many of our outstanding student-athletes.”
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF STATE HIGH SCHOOL ASSOCIATIONS
High School Sports Participation Increases for 29th Consecutive Year
FOR RELEASE 7:45 AM EST Contact: Bruce Howard
FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 2018
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 24, 2018) — Led by an additional 15,009 participants in girls sports programs, the overall number of participants in high school sports increased for the 29th consecutive year in 2017-18, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
The number of participants in high school sports in 2017-18 reached an all-time record high of 7,979,986, according to figures from the 51 NFHS member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia. The number of girls participating in high school sports reached an all-time high of 3,415,306, and boys participation also set a new standard at 4,564,680.
While the number of additional participants this year (16,451) was not as substantial as the previous year (94,635), a steady increase in several boys and girls sports extended the streak to a record-breaking 29th year.
Among boys sports, soccer registered the largest gain with 6,128 additional participants. Other boys sports with sizeable gains were cross country (3,824), volleyball (3,767) and golf (2,558). For the second consecutive year, competitive spirit had the largest increase among girls sports with an additional 18,426 participants, followed by swimming and diving (4,797), lacrosse (3,431) and golf (3,176).
With 1,035,942 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 600,097 participants, followed by basketball (551,373), baseball (487,097), soccer (456,362), cross country (270,095), wrestling (245,564), tennis (158,151), golf (144,024) and swimming/diving (138,935).
Outdoor track and field continues to lead the way for girls with 488,592 participants, followed by volleyball (446,583), basketball (412,407), soccer (390,482), fast-pitch softball (367,861), cross country (223,518), tennis (190,768), swimming/diving (175,594), competitive spirit (162,669) and lacrosse (96,904).
Despite remaining the top participatory sport for boys, 11-player football dropped for the second consecutive year. The decline in numbers, however, was not as high as 2016, and participation in 6-player and 8-player football continued to trend upward. In 2017, participation in 11-player football was 1,035,942, a two-percent decline of 21,465 from the previous year. The decline from 2015 to 2016 was 27,865, or 2.5 percent.
While there have been some recent reports about schools dropping the sport of football for the 2018 season because of declining numbers, the overall number of schools discontinuing 11-player football before the 2017 season was minimal – a decline of 20 schools from 14,099 to 14,079.
With 14,079 schools sponsoring 11-player football nationally, the loss of 21,465 participants amounts to 1.5 per school. And, although the 11-player numbers were down, the number of schools sponsoring 6-player football increased from 259 to 317, and school sponsorship of 8-player football increased from 841 to 847. Overall, the number of high schools sponsoring football (combining 6-, 8-, 9- and 11-player) increased by 29 schools – from 15,457 to 15,486.
The overall number of participants in football (6-, 8-, 9- and 11-player) in 2017 was 1,067,970, which includes 2,401 girls playing the various levels of the sport. The 21,465 decline in 11-player participation was evenly distributed across the country with no states reporting significant drops in football numbers.
“There are many positives about the numbers in this year’s sports participation survey,” said Karissa Niehoff, who began her duties as NFHS executive director earlier this month after eight years as executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference-Connecticut Association of Schools. “First, the upward trek of interest in high school sports continued for the 29th consecutive year. The model of sports within the education-based school system continues to thrive in the United States.
“Second, we are encouraged that the decline in high school football has slowed due, in part, to our efforts in reducing the risk of injury in the sport. While there may be other reasons that students elect not to play football, we have attempted to assure student-athletes and their parents that thanks to the concussion protocols and rules in place in every state in the country, the sport of football is as safe as it ever has been.”
In addition to playing rules in place that remove an athlete from a game when a concussion in suspected, states have enacted rules that limit the amount of contact before the season and during practices. With a more directed focus on risk minimization related to concussions the past 10 years, two recent studies have revealed that the rate of concussions has decreased the past couple of years due to more stringent rules related to protecting the head.
Amazingly, this year’s survey indicated participation by high school students in 65 different sports, as well as 13 adapted sports for students with disabilities. Some of the more popular non-traditional sports were badminton (17,898), archery (10,460) and fencing (4,513), along with two relative newcomers – bass fishing and ultimate frisbee.
Some of the emerging sports during the past decade continued their rise on the charts. Lacrosse now has 210,217 combined participants (113,313 boys, 96,904 girls), and bowling is up to 60,039 participants nationwide (32,159 boys, 27,880 girls).
“It is great to see new sport opportunities created to involve as many students as possible in high school sports,” Niehoff said. “While we continue to try to make football a viable option, we understand that some parents continue to have a concern about the physical nature of the sport. Certainly, the goal is to involve more and more young people in sports and activity programs because the benefits of participating in sports and activities is the same whether it is football, baseball, lacrosse, music, band or debate.”
The top 10 states by participants remained the same; however, Ohio moved ahead of Illinois into fourth place this year. Texas and California topped the list again with 824,619 and 819,625 participants, respectively, followed by New York (378,065), Ohio (347,567), Illinois (338,848), Pennsylvania (319,867), Florida (311,361), Michigan (296,625), New Jersey (281,800) and Minnesota (240,433).
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 top 10 sports for boys and girls and the year-by-year participation totals are listed below. The complete 2017-18 High School Athletics Participation Survey is available via the following link: http://www.nfhs.org/ParticipationStatistics/ParticipationStatistics/
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About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 16 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,500 high schools and 12 million participants in high school activity programs, including almost 8 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org.
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
37 AHSAA Events Set for NFHS Network through August 27
Champions Challenge Classic Headlines AHSAA First Week of Prep Football Action on TV
MONTGOMERY – Raycom Sports and the NFHS Network kick off the AHSAA’s 2018-19 school year Thursday night with the first game of the 13th annual Champions Challenge Classic at Cramton Bowl. The NFHS Network plans 37 events total for the first weekend of the new school year – including middle school and junior high football and volleyball.
Raycom, which will televise live on its D-2 (Bounce) channel over its Raycom Network of stations across the state, will have Graham Dunn and Christina Chambers behind the mikes. Thursday’s football battle pits the defending Class 1A defending state champion Sweet Water Bulldogs and 2017 Class 3A semifinalist Clarke County (11-3). Friday’s final Champions Challenge contest features Thompson (12-1), a Class 7A semifinalist in 2017, and Class 7A James Clemens. Both games kick off at 7 p.m., and both will also be live-streamed over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based network. The links can be found at www.ahsaa.com and at www.nfhsnetwork.com.
The AHSAA Radio Network will broadcast both games over its network of radio affiliates across the state and will be available via the internet via www.ahsaa.com. The Radio Network will also provide the NFHS Network audio.
The NFHS Network has eight AHSAA football games and two volleyball matches scheduled to be live-streamed Thursday night. Friday’s schedule has 18 football games scheduled and five more on Saturday. The headliner outside the Champions Challenge games is Saturday’s battle between defending Class 6A state champion Pinson Valley (15-0) and defending Class 7A champion Hoover (11-3). Kickoff for that game is set for 11 a.m. at Hoover Stadium.
Three AHSAA teams will be playing in Atlanta on Saturday with all games set for the NFHS Network thanks to the Atlanta Public School NFHS Network School Broadcast Program. Sidney Lanier plays Westlake at 2 p.m., Clay-Chalkville takes on Griffin (GA) at 4 p.m. and Central-Phenix City faces Benjamin Mays (GA) at 7 p.m.
Hoover and Vestavia Hills are scheduled to play the first varsity volleyball match of the season over the AHSAA’s NFHS Network School Broadcast Program. The Bucs and Rebs tip off Thursday at 7 p.m. at HHS. Geneva and Kinston have a match set for the NFHS Network on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Andalusia and Saraland are each broadcasting Friday’s football contest over the NFHS Network. Opelika goes to Callaway (GA) Friday with both schools also planning to live-stream the contest via the NFHS Network SBP.
NFHS Network subscribers will have access to all the games. To subscribe to the NFHS Network, click on: http://watch.nfhsnetwork.com/rewards-signup/.
The complete schedule for this weekend on the NFHS Network is listed.
NFHS NETWORK SCHEDULE OF AHSAA EVENTS
THURSDAY, August 23
VOLLEYBALL Producer Air Time
Vestavia Hills JV at Hoover JV Hoover HS SBP 5 p.m.
Vestavia Hills vs. Hoover (varsity) Hoover HS SBP 6:30 p.m.
FOOTBALL Producer Air Time
Clarke County vs. Sweet Water AHSAA/NFHS Net 7 p.m.
Brooks at Lauderdale County Brooks HS SBP 7 p.m.
Carver-Montgomery vs. Jeff Davis NFHS Montgomery Net 7 p.m.
Dothan at Enterprise Enterprise HS SBP 7 p.m.
Jasper at Cullman Cullman HS SBP 7 p.m.
Muscle Shoals at Deshler Muscle Shoals HS SBP 6:45 p.m.
Hewitt-Trussville 7th at Hoover Hoover HS SBP 5 p.m.
Hewitt-Trussville 8th at Hoover Hoover HS SBP 6:45 p.m.
FRIDAY, August 24
FOOTBALL Producer Air Time
Thompson vs. James Clemens AHSAA 7 p.m.
Andalusia at Saraland Saraland HS SBP 6:30 p.m.
Andalusia at Saraland Andalusia HS SBP 7 p.m.
Austin at Hartselle Hartselle HS SBP 7 p.m.
Blackman (TN) at Florence Florence HS SBP 6:45 p.m.
Early Co. (GA) at Eufaula Eufaula HS SBP 7 p.m.
East Limestone at Russellville Russellville HS SBP 7 p.m.
Gardendale at Mae Jemison Gardendale HS SBP 7 p.m.
Handley at LaFayette NFHS (Eagle 102.3) SBP 6:30 p.m.
Jacksonville at JB Pennington Jacksonville HS SBP 7 p.m.
Oak Mountain at Chelsea Chelsea HS SBP 7 p.m.
Opelika at Callaway (GA) Opelika HS SBP 6 p.m.
Park Crossing vs. Lee-Montgomery BTW Magnet HS SBP 7 p.m.
Red Bay at Colbert Heights Colbert Heights HS SBP 6:30 p.m.
Russell County vs. Smiths Station Smiths Station HS SBP 7 p.m.
Spain Park at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa Hillcrest HS SBP 6:45 p.m.
Spanish Fort at McGill-Toolen Catholic Spanish Fort HS SBP 7 p.m.
Tuscaloosa County at Demopolis Demopolis HS SBP 7 p.m.
Wilcox Central at Auburn Auburn HS SBP 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, August 25
VOLLEYBALL Producer Air Time
Geneva at Kinston Geneva HS SBP 4 p.m.
FOOTBALL Producer Air Time
Briarwood at Vestavia Hills FR. Vestavia Hills HS SBP 6 p.m.
Briarwood at Vestavia Hills VAR Vestavia Hills HS SBP 7 p.m.
Central-Phenix City vs. B. Mays (GA) Atlanta PS SBP 7 p.m.
Clay-Chalkville vs. Griffin (GA) Atlanta PS SBP 4 p.m.
Pinson Valley at Hoover Hoover HS SBP 11 a.m.
Sidney Lanier at Westlake (GA) Atlanta PS SBP 2 p.m.
MONDAY, August 27
FOOTBALL Producer Air Time
Central-Phenix City at Auburn JV Auburn HS SBP 5 p.m.
MONTGOMERY, AL – Coaches and players from Sweet Water, Clarke County, Thompson and James Clemens high schools gathered Thursday at the 2018 AHSAA Champions Challenge Football Classic press conference at the AHSAA Office here. The season-opening games are set for Aug. 23-24 at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.
Coaches addressed the large contingent of media on hand for the AHSAA’s annual Media Day, each discussion their excitement for the upcoming football season and the opportunity to participate in the 13th annual Champions Challenge.
Clarke County and Sweet Water kick off the season on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Cramton Bowl. Class 7A top-10 teams Thompson takes on James Clemens in the big-school game on Friday night, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. Raycom Media will televise the game live, the NFHS Network will live-stream the game and the AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast the game over its statewide network.
Clarke County Coach Stacy Luker, who is the only head coach in the 13-year history to compete in the season-opening football classic at three different schools, said his team is glad to play in the opening game versus his alma mater Sweet Water. “I have been here twice before,” Luker said, “and the first two times was pretty tough.”
Luker, who won five state championships while serving as head coach at Sweet Water, participated in the 2011 Champions Challenge versus Hamilton and then brought Demopolis in 2016 to face Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa. Hamilton beat Sweet Water 38-35 in ’11 and Hillcrest beat Demopolis 42-7 in ’16.
“We got beat pretty good in 2016,” he said.
He has no regrets, however. His Demopolis team rebounded to win five in a row and finished 7-4 – losing two games to 7A schools. His Sweet Water team rebounded from a 38-35 loss to 4A Hamilton to win 10 games before falling in the Class 1A semifinals. His Clarke County squad is coming off an 11-3 season and reached the Class 3A semifinals for the first time in school history in Luker’s first season at the helm. The Bulldogs, moved up to 4A this season, is ranked ninth in the ASWA preseason rankings.
Pat Thompson coached with Luker as an assistant at Thomasville and Sweet Water before he ascended to head coach in 2014 when Luker left. The Bulldogs, ranked second in the ASWA preseason rankings behind Lanett, are riding a 13-game winning streak heading into this season after claiming the school’s 10th Class 1A state championship overall. Lanett moved down to from 2A this season after winning the state title last year with a 15-0 season.
Sweet Water’s defense should be strong with linebackers Jacory Brown, Chance Broussard and JahDarrius McIntosh returning. All three were on hand at Thursday’s press gathering. Clarke County was represented Thursday by returning starters Jake Anderson, Javon Ivory and Avant Law.
Thompson (12-1), coached by Mark Freeman (186-41), won the Class 7A, Region 5 regular-season championship last season going 7-0. The Warriors lost in the semifinals to Region 5 runner-up Hoover, which won the state championship the next week. Freeman’s team features one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects, Taulia Tagovailoa, who passed for a state-leading 3,820 yards and 36 TDs last season as a junior. Shad Byrd returns at running back after rushing for 1,167 yards and 18 scores. Both were on hand Thursday along with linebacker Will Conner and defensive end Eric Mizell.
James Clemens (3-7) is the state’s youngest Class 7A school, opening its doors for the first time in 2012. Coach Wade Waldrop has coached the Jets to a 30-35 overall record, including going 10-2 in 2015 and 8-4 in 2016. James Clemens fell to 3-7 season but is expected to challenge for the Class 7A, Region 8 championship in 2018.
The Jets return 2018 starting quarterback Conner Cantrell, who was forced into action when expected starter Jamil Mohammad suffered a season-ending injury. Mohammad is back and at full strength giving Waldrop what he describes as “Two great quarterbacks. That is the position that probably has the most depth heading into this season.”
Both were in attendance Thursday along with defensive lineman Daevion Davis and running back Austin McGhee.
Also on hand at the press conference was Montgomery Catholic senior cross country standout Amaris Tyynismaa, her head coach Ed Wright, Goshen volleyball coach Amy Warrick and Bob Jones swimming coach Wade Thaxton.
The three coaches discussed those seasons, which also get underway Aug. 23, and discussed their own teams’ outlooks. Tyynismaa, the most decorated AHSAA girls’ distance runner in more than 40 years, comes into the 2018 season with four straight Class 4A/5A state girls’ cross country titles and holds the record for the fastest girls’ finish in state-meet history, 17:03.4, a state record she set as an eighth grader.
She said her goal this season is to get under 17 minutes, a feat she accomplished at last year’s Footlocker national competition. Catholic’s boys and girls finished second last season. Warrick’s Goshen team finished 28-14 and was Class 2A state volleyball runner-up last season, the best finish in school history. Thaxton’s young girls’ Bob Jones swimming team had a fourth-place finish last season in Class 6A/7A, and the boys finished seventh.
AHSAA CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE HISTORY
Hewitt-Trussville 49, Pell City 10
Maplesville 20, Fyffe 7
Andalusia 34, Brooks 13
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 42, Demopolis 7
Hoover 23, Central-Phenix City 7
Bob Jones 37, Carver-Montgomery 30
Gordo 28, Glencoe 21
Madison Academy 19, Leeds 14
Spanish Fort 42, Stanhope Elmore 14
Opelika 20, Carver-Montgomery 16
Dadeville 14, Piedmont 8
Benjamin Russell 28, Walker 14
Straughn 35, Walter Wellborn 26
Bob Jones 23, Enterprise 20
Spanish Fort 33, Muscle Shoals 22
Central of Clay County 25, Beauregard 13
McGill-Toolen 27, Northridge 0
Hueytown 36, Thomasville 27
Hamilton 38, Sweet Water 35
Daphne 24, Clay-Chalkville 21
Opelika 34, Greenville 6
Auburn 30, Spain Park 3
Jackson 30, Trinity 8
Prattville 37, Carver-Montgomery 0
T.R. Miller 27, Leeds 7
Hoover 32, Oxford 27
Prattville vs. Oxford, canceled due to inclement weather
Prattville 36, North Gwinnett, Ga. 3
Hoover 38, UMS-Wright 0
Clay-County 41, Addison 6
ALL TIME RECORDS (2006 – 2017)
SCHOOL DIS. CL. W-L PTS OPP
Bob Jones D-8 7A 2-0 60 50
Hoover D-5 7A 2-0 61 7
Opelika D-4 6A 2-0 54 22
Spanish Fort D-1 6A 2-0 75 36
Andalusia D-2 4A 1-0 34 13
Auburn D-4 7A 1-0 30 3
Benjamin Russell D-4 6A 1-0 28 14
Central, Clay County** D-6 5A 1-0 25 13
Clay County** D-6 3A 1-0 41 6
Dadeville D-4 4A 1-0 14 8
Daphne D-1 6A 1-0 24 21
Gordo D-7 3A 1-0 28 21
Hamilton D-7 4A 1-0 38 35
Hewitt-Trussville D-5 7A 1-0 49 10
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa D-5 6A 1-0 42 7
Hueytown D-5 5A 1-0 36 27
Jackson D-1 5A 1-0 30 8
Madison Academy D-8 3A 1-0 19 14
Maplesville D-3 1A 1-0 20 7
McGill-Toolen Catholic D-1 7A 1-0 27 0
Prattville* D-3 7A 1-0 36 3
Straughn D-2 3A 1-0 35 26
Oxford D-6 6A 0-0 0 0
Addison D-7 1A 0-1 6 41
Beauregard D-4 5A 0-1 13 25
Brooks D-7 4A 0-1 13 34
Central, Phenix City D-4 7A 0-1 7 23
Clay-Chalkville D-5 6A 0-1 21 24
Demopolis D-3 5A 0-1 7 42
Enterprise D-2 7A 0-1 20 23
Fyffe D-8 1A 0-1 7 20
Older Archives 2008-2014