Author: Marvin Chou

Marvin Chou's Article

Alabama Boys Add Cordova Senior Jayce Willingham to All-Star Roster

CLINTON (MS) – Alabama All-Star’s All-Star boys’ team added Cordova High School senior Jayce Willingham Wednesday to replace Ashford’s  LaDarius Knight, who withdrew from the team for personal reasons.
       Willingham participated in all three Alabama all-star practices Wednesday, said Alabama All-Star Coach Robi Coker. The 6-foot-5 Willingham helped Cordova win the Class 4A state championship this season, averaging 22.8 points per game, 10.7 rebounds and shooting 79.2 percent at the foul line. He joins teammate Isaac Chatman and Cordova head coach Heath Burns, who is also coaching the Alabama All-Stars.  Willingham, who earned a spot on the Class 4A State Tourney team, had a career high 56 points in a 102-93 overtime win over South Lamar in the regular season. He sank 17-of-18 free throws in that game.
       The Alabama All-Stars had two workouts Thursday and a 7 p.m., shoot-around with one walk through practice scheduled for Friday morning. The 28th annual Alabama-Mississippi All Star Basketball Games, which are co-sponsored by the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) and the AHSAA’s Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA),   will tip off on Friday at the A. E. Wood Coliseum, Mike Jones Court, on the campus of Mississippi College here at 5 p.m., with the girls’  game. The boys’ game will follow at 7 p.m.
      “We have a great bunch of guys who are enjoyable to be around,” Coker said. “You can tell they like each other. They have been a very cohesive group.”
       Alabama holds a 14-13 edge in the boys’ series and Mississippi holds a 14-13 edge in the girls’ series. Mississippi is riding a two-game winning streak in both camps.
       Coker, who coached Plainview to a Class 3A state title this past season while setting the AHSAA single-season marks for 3-point shots attempted and made, said the coaches like the leadership they have seen – especially at the guard position. He said Huffman’s Travarus Carroll, Mountain Brook’s Sean Elmore and Hoover’s Jamari Blackmon have all stood out along with his own point guard from Plainview, Jeffery Armstrong.
      “We are trying to find the right combinations, and it looks like we probably use a lot of combinations,” Coker said. Big men inside, 6-9 Xavier Williams of Parker, 6-9 Dylan Robertson of Paul Bryant and 6-9 Logan Dye of Haleyville, have a nice touch around the goal but may be out-beefed by Mississippi’s inside players, Coker said.  “That’s why we will be depending on our guards to set the tempo.”
      Mississippi’s top big man appears to be 6-9 Javarian Fleming of Canton, who is heading to Alabama.
      Austin said the Alabama girls are also close-knit.  “They really have bonded quickly,” said Austin, who is coaching the team along with Tim Miller of Hazel Green. Austin guided Spring Garden to the 1A state title this past season and Miller directed the Trojans to the 6A crown.
      “It is amazing just how close these girls have gotten,” said Austin. “They sing together in the bus wherever we go. And they sing pretty good I might say, even though they are singing songs I don’t really know.”
      Alabama’s girls are anchored by SEC signees guards Hannah Barber of Homewood (Alabama), Caitlin Hose of Hazel Green (Georgia) and forward Allie Craig Cruce of Lauderdale County (Alabama).
    Mississippi won both games in Montgomery in Montgomery last year with the girls taking a 93-86 decision and the boys, winning 96-91.
     The games will be produced and televised via live-streaming on the FNUTL network (fnutl.com) and the MAC Network.  The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast the contests over their network of radio stations and internet outlets. Go to www.ahsaa.com for links.







NO.      NAME                                       POS     HGT     SCHOOL                      COLLEGE


  2         DeANTHONY TIPLER               PG       5-11      ASHLAND                     undecided

  3         DaQUAN SMITH                       G          6-2        HOLLY SPRINGS         MURRAY STATE

  4         DEWAYNE STEWART              F          6-6        RIVERSIDE                  MISS. STATE

10         GABE WATSON                       G          6-3        ST. JOSEPH (Madison)   SOUTHERN MISS

11         GARRISON WADE                   F          6-6        ST. ANDREW’S            undecided

12         MILES MILLER                         G          6-3        MERIDIAN                    undecided

15         TYRON BREWER                     F          6-6        MERIDIAN                    undecided

22         LADARIUS MARSHALL            F          6-7        FOREST HILL              undecided

23         TYLER STEVENSON                F          6-7        NEW HOPE                  undecided

25         ROBERT WOODARD               F          6-6        COLUMBUS                  MISS. STATE

30         JAVIAN FLEMING                    C          6-9        CANTON                       ALABAMA

33         KAMARIAN WILLIAMS             C          6-8        CLEVELAND CENTRAL   MURRAY STATE


HEAD COACH:                        KIM WINDOM, PORT GIBSON










NO.      NAME                                        POS    HGT     SCHOOL                      COLLEGE


3          TRAVARUS CARROLL             G          6-2        HUFFMAN                    ITAWAMBA CC

4          JAMARI BLACKMON                G          6-0        HOOVER                      undecided

10         DIANTE WOOD                         G          6-5        SACRED HEART          ALABAMA

11         JARED SHERFIELD                 G          6-5        PAUL W. BRYANT        TENNESSEE TECH

12         ANQUAEVIOUS POLLARD       F          6-7        LANETT                       INDEPENDENCE CC

15         JAYCE WILLINGHAM               G          6-5        CORDOVA                    undecided

20         JEFFERY ARMSTRONG           PG       5-11      PLAINVIEW                  undecided

21         DYLAN ROBERTSON               C          6-9        PAUL W. BRYANT        WINGATE

23         LOGAN DYE                            G          6-9        HALEYVILLE                SAMFORD

24         ISAAC CHATMAN                     F          6-6        CORDOVA                    undecided

25         SEAN ELMORE                        G          6-1        MOUNTAIN BROOK     NORTH ALABAMA

34         XAVIER WILLIAMS                   C          6-9        A. H. PARKER              undecided


HEAD COACH:                         ROBI COKER, PLAINVIEW












NO.      NAME                                       POS     HGT     SCHOOL                      COLLEGE


00         JARIYAH COVINGTON             PG       5-3        STARKVILLE                undecided

2          KYANNAH GRANT                   G          5-7        CHOCTAW CENTRAL   undecided

3          TABREEA GANDY                    PG       5-3        STARKVILLE                ITAWAMBA CC

4          KYARRAH GRANT                   G          5-7        CHOCTAW CENTRAL   undecided

10         CHYNA LEIGH ALLEN             G          5-6        HARRISON CENTRAL  JONES JC       

11         MAHOGANY VAUGHT              G          5-7        OLIVE BRANCH            SOUTH ALABAMA

12         KEALY WILSON                       G          5-9        HORN LAKE                 undecided

20         JATYJIA JONES                      G          5-9        INGOMAR                     undecided

23         DESTINY SMITH                       G          6-0        McCOMB                      SOUTHERN MISS

25         AMBER GASTON                     F          6-3        WARREN CENTRAL     FLORIDA ATLANTIC

33         DAPHANE WHITE                    C          6-5        ST. MARTIN                 MISS. STATE

34         KAYLA SIMMONS                    F          6-0        BRANDON                    undecided

INJ       KAVACI-A JOHNSON               PG       5-4        BYHALIA                      CENTRAL ARKANSAS



HEAD COACH:                         JANNA THOMPSON, HORN LAKE










NO.      NAME                                       POS     HGT     SCHOOL                      COLLEGE                   


3          HANNAH BARBER                   PG       5-6        HOMEWOOD                ALABAMA

4          EBONI WILLIAMS                    F          6-0        HOOVER                      UT CHATTANOOGA

10         CAITLIN HOSE                         G          5-10      HAZEL GREEN             GEORGIA

11         CLAIRE HOLT                          PG       5-8        SPAIN PARK                RICHMOND

12         ALLIE CRUCE                          G/F       6-1        LAUDERDALE CTY      ALABAMA

15         AJAH WAYNE                          G/F       5-10      RAMSAY                      OLD DOMINION

20         DAISHA BRADFORD                PG       5-8        LEFLORE                     undecided

21         KARLEIGH SLEDGE                F          6-0        DESHLER                     JACKSONVILLE ST.

24         JERMECYA HARRIS                F          6-0        MATTIE T. BLOUNT      LOUISIANA TECH

25         ZIPPORAH BROUGHTON         PG       5-9        R. E. LEE                     RUTGERS

34         BROOKE HAMPEL                   G/F       5-10      HAZEL GREEN             MISSOURI (K.C.)

40         MAYA BUCKHANON                 C          6-2        TALLADEGA                MEMPHIS



HEAD COACH:                         TIM MILLER, HAZEL GREEN




Spain Park Delivers 800th Career Coaching Win to Coach C.J. Hawkins

MONTGOMERY -- Spain Park High School freshman pitcher Annabelle Widra hurled a two-hitter, Lexi Thompson and Maddie Majors slugged home runs as the Jaguars softball team beat Alabama Christian 5-0 in a softball game in late February.
    The victory over the strong Eagles was the 800th career win for Jaguars head softball coach C.J. Hawkins.  That milestone win headlines the first AHSAA Softball Spotlight of the 2018 season.
    “Where did the years go,” said Hawkins in retrospect. “This is my 11th year at Spain Park after spending 11 years at Clay-Chalkville. Throw in three years at the middle school level and it is truly amazing.”
    Hawkins, currently 809-351 in 22 seasons, built Clay-Chalkville into one of the premier teams in the AHSAA. When she moved to Spain Park for the 2008 season, the program had never had a winning season. It took three years before finishing above .500 at 26-24. Since then, the Jags have been among the top teams in the state as well.
      A standout shortstop and multi-sport athlete in high school at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, she attended Ohio State University where she was an Academic All-Big 10 selection.
     Her first job in Alabama was at Hewitt-Trussville Middle School. She then started the softball program at Clay. Three players off her 1999 Clay team signed college scholarships. Since then, the total number is approaching 60.
    Spain Park finished 48-9 last season and is off to a 14-2 start in 2018. The Jags went 6-0 to win the Sidney Cooper Invitational for the second straight year.
    The milestone win edged out a 21-srtrikeout performance by pitcher Lauren Quigley Guntersville. The senior hurled a 3-hitter and struck out 21 in a seven-inning 7-1 win over Crossville.
     The 21 strikeouts was one shy of the AHSAA 7-inning record (22) set by Eufaula’s India Kornegay versus G.W. Long in 2009. Only three other pitchers have been reported as striking out 21 in a 7-inning game: Kornegay versus Charles Henderson in 2010; Bree Blevins of Spring Garden vs Lynn in the 2009 Class 1A state tournament; and Lauren Webster of Alabama Christian in 2008.

     Other highlights reported include:

ALEA JOHNSON, FAIRHOPE: Slugged two home runs and a single to drive in seven runs as the Pirates beat Lebanon (TN) 11-1.
JORDAN HOLCOMB, MOBILE CHRISTIAN: Hurled 4-2 win over Bayside Academy, allowing six hits and striking out 11. She also had three hits and three RBIs.
SAVANNAH CREEL, ALMA BRYANT: Collected a single, two doubles and six RBIs in a 23-4 win over Murphy.
LORI TERRY, EAST LAWRENCE: Slugged two home runs and had three RBIs in a 10-0 win over Tharptown. The Eagles slugged four homers with Briley Pitt and Anna Kate Segars with one each. Pitt finished with four RBIs and also had four RBIs versus West Morgan.
JOHNNA STAGGS, WILSON: Staggs hit four home runs – two in each game – as the Warriors routed Colbert County and Russellville.
JABBY TERRELL, NORTHVIEW: Slugged a grand-slam home run to highlight an eight-run third inning as the Cougars beat Geneva 9-4 at the Geneva Invitational tourney. She finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
OLIVIA WILBORN, DECATUR: Had three hits and five RBIs in a 15-8 win over Brewer.
HANNAH MYNARD, ENTERPRISE: Hurled three shutouts at the Wetumpka Invitational to help the Wildcats reach the semifinals of the tourney. She blanked Central-Phenix City 2-0 on one hit with six strikeouts, whiffed six in a 2-0 shutout over Holtville and also hurled a 3-0 win over Vestavia Hills.
ANNIE LAURA CLAYTON, EUFAULA: Hurled a five-inning no-hitter to bet Lee-Montgomery 5-0 in the Wetumpka Invitational. She had 10 strikeouts and one walk in the win.
LEANNA JOHNSON, BRANTLEY: Was 4-1 in the Wetumpka Invitational with 43 strikeouts and two shutouts. The Class 1A Bulldogs reached the championship game. Brantley improved to 15-1 on the season.
KAITLYN CLARK, GARDENDALE: Pitched 39 innings and posted five wins in the Calhoun CC Invitational. Among the victories was a 1-hit shutout over defending Class 6A state champion Hazel Green.
ALLIE BOUTWELL, DALE COUNTY: Collected four hits, including two home runs, in the second inning, and had two RBIs in a 21-3 win over Abbeville.
HANNAH POPWELL, HEADLAND: Slugged a double, triple and home run to account for three RBIs as the Rams beat Daleville 13-1.
CHLOE NANCE, GENEVA: Had two singles in the first inning to highlight a seven-run rally and the Panthers held on for an 8-0 win over Providence Christian.
Was 7-of-14 with two doubles, a triple, a home run, three walks and five RBIs last week. She also had a triple and homer in an 11-1 win over John Carroll.

Josh Hall Swipes 165th Stolen Base To Set New AHSAA Career Record

MONTGOMERY – Homewood High School senior Josh Hall set the AHSAA single-season stolen base record as a sophomore in 2016 with 81 in 45 games. He added another notch to his records chase earlier this week when he swiped the 165th stolen base of his prep career in an 11-1 Patriots win over John Carroll Catholic.
    Hall grabs the first AHSAA Baseball Spotlight of the 2018 season for his efforts.
    The senior outfielder spent the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons at Randolph in Huntsville where his dad Lee Hall served as head coach. Homewood hired Hall as its new head coach replacing Doug Gann, who moved to athletic director. Son Josh hasn’t missed a beat at his new school.
     Josh, who batted .485 last season, has signed with Ole Miss. He started the season ranked fourth on the AHSAA career stolen bases chart behind previous leader Scottie Burdeshaw of Slocomb, who had 164 steals from 2005-10 for the Red Tops. Lance Taylor of Athens Bible finished his prep career with 151 (1998-2002) and Tranon Frederick of Hackleburg was third with 146 from 2002-06. Hall started the season with 142 and has 27 in the first 14 games in 2018, including five in the win over John Carroll.
     "Just to have the opportunity to coach him the last four years and to watch him set this record has been very rewarding as coach," Coach Hall told Daniel Boyette of Al.com. "(It is) doubly rewarding when you're in the third-base coaches’ box as dad. To be able to watch 165 is a feeling that is really indescribable.
     “Years ago, I walked away from being a college coach so I could be part of my kids' dreams and today was one of those special moments that confirms to me that I made the right decision to get into high school coaching."
     The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Hall now has his sights on the NFHS National Record (210), which was set by Tim Dressler of Waltonville (IL) from 1981-84. Dressler went on to earn All-America honors at the University of Missouri in the late 1980s. Hall needs 46 more this season to surpass that mark.
    Hall’s brother Carson, who graduated from Randolph last spring, set the AHSAA career saves record as a pitcher (20). He is now a college freshman hurler at Memphis.
    The stolen-base performance edged out a clutch effort by Providence Christian’s Dylan Hasty, who drove in teammate Jon Lewis for the winning run with a single in the top of the 10th inning as the Eagles beat defending 2A state champion G.W. Long 5-4 at the Southeast Invitational tourney last week. The victory was the fourth for Providence in the last five games at Skipperville, which included a 13-12 thriller that went eight innings in the same tourney last year.
     Hasty also plated a go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning with a sacrifice fly, but the Rebels tied the game again in the bottom of the eighth when Keigan Munn executed a perfect bases-loaded, suicide squeeze bunt to the right side of the mound to drive in the tying run.
   Reliever Grayson Stewart hurled 5 2/3 innings in relief allowing three hits, one run and striking out seven to get the win. He struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh inning.

 Dylan Ray of Bob Jones poked a pair of three-run homers to finish with six RBIs in a 10-6 win over Austin. The victory was No. 100 in for Patriots Coach Jared Smith.  Cam Hill added a homer and double and winning pitcher John-Michael Riley also homered for Bob Jones.
Other top performances from the last week include:

CARSON SKIPPER, HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE: Allowed just one hit and struck out 13 in a five-inning win over Southside-Gadsden. He also batted .583 with four doubles, a triple, scored five runs and had seven RBIs as the Huskies went 4-0 for the week.
SONNY DiCHIARA, HOOVER: Had a big week for the defending 7A state champion Bucs going 7-of-8 with one home run and seven RBIs. He also drew three walks and was hit by a pitch and reached base 11 times in 12 plate appearances.
VRAE MURPHY, THEODORE: Had a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Bobcats a 4-3 win over West Harrison (MS).
JACK SMALLWOOD, AUSTIN: Drove in the winning run in the top of the eighth inning as the Black Bears downed defending Class 5A state champion Russellville 7-6. The Tigers rebounded to win the second game of the doubleheader 11-4.
LANDON GREEN, HELENA: Fired s 2-hitter over five innings and struck out 14 to notch a 6-3 win over Thompson.
DALTON ADKISON, NEW BROCKTON: Slugged a bases-loaded triple in the third inning and scored on a throwing error to account for all his team’s runs in the Gamecocks’ 4-2 victory over Geneva.
TRISTAN WOODHAM, DALE COUNTY: Executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt in the eighth inning to plate teammate Cole Deloney as the Warriors edged Geneva County 9-8.
TRENTON GREEN, WATERLOO: Hurled a no-hitter as Waterloo beat Tharptown 9-1. Green allowed only one walk, struck out 14 and one unearned run.
BRENDON CASE, CHELSEA: Hurled a no-hitter and struck out nine in a shutout win over Briarwood Christian. He threw just 86 pitches in the 2-0 triumph for the Hornets (12-3).
CHANDLER BEST, McGILL-TOOLEN CATHOLIC: Tossed a no-hitter and struck out 10 in a 3-0 win over Smiths Station. He walked three.
COLE HENRY, FLORENCE: Pitched a 1-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts as Florence cruised to a 7-0 victory over Buford (GA).
MADDUX HERRING, ARITON: Pitched a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the Crenshaw County Invitational tourney before yielding a one-out single to settle for a one-hitter in the 13-0 win over Highland Home. He struck out five and walked none.  Ariton led 6-0 heading into the top of the seventh but exploded for seven unearned runs. Herring finished 3-for-3 at the plate with a solo homer in the fifth inning.
TUCKER RHODES, WILSON: Led the Warriors to 10-2 win over Montgomery Academy with a 3-run triple and two-run single for five RBIs. He also pitched a 5-hitter and struck out six to get the win.
LUKE WHITAKER, VESTAVIA HILLS: Was 6-of-9 with three homers and five RBIs in three games for the Rebels.
ETHAN WELLS, WICKSBURG: Slugged two doubles, a single and drove in three runs as the Panthers beat Headland 8-3 to snap the Rams’ 10-game season-opening winning streak. He followed with a double and single and two RBIs in a 13-6 win over Bayside Academy.
TANNER JACKSON, HOUSTON ACADEMY: Had four hits, including two singles, a triple and double, and drove in four runs in the Raiders’ 17-0 win over Daleville.
MACK WISE, BRANTLEY: Slugged a grand slam to pace a 16-6 Bulldogs’ win over Straughn.
GARRETT WADE, HARTSELLE: Went 5-for-7 in a 10-7, 10-6 sweep of Grissom. He had one double and five RBIs. The left-hander hurled a one-hitter and struck out nine in a 3-1 win over Muscle Shoals.
CHRISTIAN MACLEOD, HUNTSVILLE:  Hurled a four-hitter and struck out 10 over five innings to post the win as the Panthers beat Florence 9-3. He also had three hits with a double and one RBI.
MIKE EVANS, COTTAGE HILL CHRISTIAN: Was 4-for-4 with five RBIs in a 14-0 win over Goshen.

Loachapoka Coach Jerome Tate Taught Players to be Physically and Mentally Tough

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian

          When Jerome Tate came out of college, he was a big man with big plans. And he would take that plan to the small Lee County community of Loachapoka where he spent more than two decades instilling big dreams in the student-athletes he taught.
          A native of Selma, Tate is being inducted into Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018. He graduated from Selma High School in 1977 as an All-State offensive and defensive lineman and was selected to play in the AHSAA North-South All-Star Game.  He attended Alabama A&M University, where he continued his on-the-field success and graduated in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation.

          His first job out of college was at Keith High in Orrville where he served as head football and assistant basketball coach. He taught physical education and health, subjects that he taught at each stop in his career.

          For the next two years he coached at the college level, first at Alabama A&M and then at Tuskegee University.  He was defensive line coach at A&M. At Tuskegee he served as an assistant football coach, and head strength and conditioning coach. However, he knew in his heart that he belonged back in high school.
          In 1990 he moved to Lanett High School where he spent 10 years as defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and offensive line coach. He also was head track coach from 1990-95 at Lanett.

          When Tate left Lanett to accept the athletic director and head football coach position at Loachapoka High School, sportswriter Todd Brooks wrote of his impact at Lanett.

“Perhaps the thing I noticed most about Jerome in the past four years I’ve known him is not how well he coached, but how well he got along with the students,” Brooks said. “Anyone who has seen the man in a school setting can tell that he cares. When (coach) Billy Kinnard left (Lanett) in 1993, it was Tate who led the team until a new coach was found. He, along with the other coaches, took them through spring training and kept them together until Lee Gilliland was hired.

“I have never seen players respond to a coach the way the Panthers have responded to Tate. When I interviewed Cliff Jackson about being selected to the state’s Super 12 team, I asked him about who he credits for his success. Jackson immediately spoke the name of Jerome Tate. ‘He’s my biggest fan, my biggest buddy.’ That’s pretty impressive to hear a 17-year-old kid speaking so highly of an adult these days.”

Tate went to Loachapoka in 1995. Over the next 22 years he compiled a record of 152-98 and won four region titles and become the school’s all-time wins leader. The Indians were in the state playoffs 17 times in 22 years, including a string of 14 straight appearances.

          His coaching accomplishments and honors include:

·         15 winning football seasons in 22 years at Loachapoka. Seventeen of his 22 teams made the state playoffs.

·         Led his 2004 team to an undefeated regular season and finished 12-1 overall. The 12 wins is a single season is a school record.

·          Finished 11-2 in 2009, tied a school record for wins and advanced to the playoff semifinals.

·         All-time winningest coach in Lee County.

·         Coach of the Year awards in 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2009.

·         Played in the North South All-Star Game and later coached in both the  North-South and the Alabama-Mississippi all-star games.


          Eleven of his players at Lanett and 16 at Loachapoka went on to play at the collegiate level. Three of them played professionally: Josh Evans with the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and New York Jets; Kenny Sander with the New York Giants; and Tracy Brooks with the Salina Liberty of the Championship Indoor Football League.
           Long-time coaching rival and friend Jackie O’Neal, a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee, admired Coach Tate’s work ethic.

“He was focused and driven to develop his teams to be tough mentally and physically on the football field,” O’Neal said. “Through his mentorship and life of integrity, Coach Tate has positively impacted student athletes for over three decades…. He is a true professional, along with being one of the most honest and upstanding people I know. I truly call him a friend.”

Former AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn mentored Tate at Lanett and wrote the following:

“I have been associated with Jerome for 35 years. I hired Coach Tate as an assistant coach at Lanett High School during my tenure as superintendent of Lanett City schools. I have witnessed first-hand his love and passion for the game of football. Jerome demonstrates professional integrity, outstanding character and is a true professional in everything he undertakes.
          “Being a former coach, I have experienced how difficult it is to maintain a quality program over a period of many years. Jerome is the winningest coach in Lee County…. Every year we have numerous coaches who have qualifications to be part of this most prestigious hall of fame, but there are some outstanding individuals who simply stand above and beyond other nominees. Jerome Tate is definitely one of these.”

Coach Jim Hubbert, a 2006 Hall of Fame inductee, also wrote a letter endorsing Tate’s nomination. Hhe said, “I have known Coach Jerome Tate for over 30 years – as a college recruiting coach, as one of my assistant coaches, as a head coach and opponent, and mostly as a colleague and a friend. Jerome is the type of coach any father would love his son and grandson to have lead them. I was fortunate enough to have Coach Tate as one of my son’s coaches, and for that I am extremely thankful.

 “His teams always have been respected as hard-nosed, disciplined and respectful of opponents. Those positive attributes are the results of Coach Tate leading his teams to exhibit good moral and ethical standards, to demonstrate leadership qualities, and to display good sportsmanship. Because of Coach Tate’s leadership, his teams have always brought a source of pride and respect to his school and community.”

Tate was inducted into the Alabama A&M Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Friday: Obadiah Threadgill Legacy stretches over four generations.

Perseverance and Passion Has Highlighted Ann Schilling’s Journey to Hall of Fame

                                                       By Bill Plott

                                                   AHSAA Historian
         Ann Schilling’s journey to the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame started at the hands of a master. The Class of 2018 inductee played under the renowned Coach Becky Dickinson at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. Coach Dickinson was in the very first class of inductees in 1991.

          In a letter nominating Schilling to the Hall of Fame, Coach Dickinson wrote:

“Before her high school tenure with me even began, Ann fell during summer team camp and broke her right arm. Other athletes might have let that discourage them, but not Ann. She stayed at summer camp and continued to work out. She came to every volleyball practice and game, taking statistics and stepping in wherever she could. She even taught herself to shoot a basketball left-handed.

“She had her silly moments, too. When she was still a freshman, our basketball team played an area championship, and I watched as my starting players fouled out one by one, clearing my bench until I was left with Ann. When I put her in the game, I called a time-out and shared the game plan with my players. We were ahead and time was running out. They were to maintain possession of the ball. We didn’t need any baskets, so they weren’t to shoot.
           “Ann Stepped out onto the court and received the ball out in Timbuctoo. She didn’t’ dribble. She didn’t pass. She didn’t’ fake her opponent.  No, that 14-year-old kid launched the ball toward our goal, and – swoosh! – made it. After the game, I told her had her ill-advised shot missed, she would never have seen playing time on one of my teams again.

“But she hadn’t missed. And perhaps she had learned something about strategy, something that came in handy for her as she played at Auburn or as she began her own coaching career at Bayside Academy.”

A native of Mobile, Schilling went from McGill-Toolen to Auburn University where she played basketball for four years, walking on and earning a scholarship by her sophomore year. She stayed a fifth year at Auburn to play volleyball when the program was reinstated.

With college-level varsity experience in basketball and volleyball under her belt, she accepted the position of physical education teacher, basketball and volleyball coach at Bayside Academy in 1987. It was a perfect union. Schilling is now in her 31st season of teaching and coaching at Bayside.

That career, by the numbers, includes the following:

·         23 state volleyball championships, four runners-up

·         16 consecutive state champions 2002-2017, an Alabama record and second in the nation, and 19 in 20 years since 1998

·         More than 1,400 wins, first among state active coaches and second in the state all-time

·         6 Mobile Press Register Super 12 Coach of the Year awards

·         5 Birmingham News Coach of the Year awards

·         7 selections as AHSAA all-star coach

·         National Federation of High Schools Volleyball Coach of the Year award in 2010

Additionally, Schilling has received two John L. Finley Awards for Superb Achievement as a coach and an R. L. Lindsay Service Award for club volleyball. She is founder and director of the Eastern Shore Volleyball Club.

She was elected to the Bayside Academy Hall of Fame in 2004 and to the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

Nancy Shoquist, varsity volleyball coach at Mary G. Montgomery High School and a Hall of Fame inductee in 2014, wrote of her long association and friendship with Schilling:

“I truly feel Ann is the smartest high school volleyball coach in Alabama,” she said. “She studies the game, wanting always to learn new ideas and strategies which will give her an advantage. Her career record, state championships and state tournament appearances speak loads of her success.

“She will continue to be successful in volleyball because of the work ethic, love of her teams and lover of the game.”

Bayside Head of School Michael Papa spoke to the intangibles in Schilling’s career.

“Ann plays a huge role in the character development of the young ladies she coaches,” he said. “She instills good sportsmanship and the importance of teamwork in her players, regardless of the outcome of the game. Ann’s players respect her, and they want to work hard to win under her direction.”

Coach Dickinson said she saw Schilling develop and grow into a superb leader.

“Looking back at her outstanding career, it may come as a surprise that Ann was not a born leader,” Dickinson said. “During her senior year, the captain of the volleyball team missed one of our tournaments, and I watched as my team floundered, leaderless.   A few timeouts later, when I asked Ann and her fellow senior to take charge, I watched her step onto the court and step into her own. After that, nothing Ann did surprised me.
           “I was not surprised when she started and didn’t stop winning state championships. I was not surprised when Ann’s peers repeatedly recognized her coaching ability by voting her Coach of the Year. I was not surprised that she learned to take relatively unskilled young women and teach them game skills while building their confidence and leadership skills.”
         And it is no surprise that Ann Schilling is now being inducted into the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018.
THURSDAY: Jerome Tate taught his players to be mentally tough.

Alvin Rauls Is Aptly Described as a Trailblazer in AHSAA Athletic Circles

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian

         When Alvin Rauls was presented an AHSAA Making a Difference Award in 2017, he was aptly described as a “trailblazer.”

          In 1992 this 2018 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame selection became the first black head coach to win a state baseball championship. Last year he became the first black coach to win a girls fast-pitch softball state championship. He is just the second coach in AHSA history to win titles in both of those sports.

          A strong advocate of sportsmanship, Rauls was described as “an outstanding role model for students and is well respected by his peers.” Additionally, his service to the AHSAA has included serving on the Central Board of Control, Legislative Council and District Board of Officers.

A native of Albany (GA), he attended Monroe High School in Albany, graduating in 1972. Rauls then attended Florida A&M University on a baseball scholarship. At FAMU he played second base and was teammates with future baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. He received his bachelor’s degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Driver’s Education in 1977.

After graduation he moved to Huntsville where he became Director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Triana, a small town that was incorporated in Madison County in 1919 – which officially became just the second city incorporated in the county’s history. With this job he became the first black recreation director for a city or township in the state. He also was responsible for implementing the Summer Youth Program.

His coaching career had begun back in Albany with an American Legion team. He continued at Triana where he coached the city women’s softball team and the men’s After Dark slow-pitch softball team, which won a state championship. He also became certified as an AHSAA basketball official during this time, calling games regularly from 1979-98.

In 1981 he became head baseball coach at Alabama A&M University, serving in that position for three years.

In 1988 he went to New Hope High School as baseball coach. He was named Madison County Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1993. He won the state Class 2A championship in 1992 and his 1990 team was Class 3A runner-up. At New Hope he also served as assistant football coach as well as driver’s education and physical education teacher. He took on head football coaching duties in 1993 and 1994, compiling a 10-10 record.

In 1995 he went to Sparkman High School as head baseball coach, assistant football coach and driver’s education teacher. He held the same positions at S.R. Butler from 1997-2002 and at Bob Jones from 2002-06.

          During his tenure as a baseball coach he has won more than 350 games and has received Coach of the Year honors at the county and state level numerous times.

In 2007 he went to Buckhorn High School as softball coach compiling a 256-141 record through the 2017 season. In addition to the 2017 state championship, the 2015 team won the Area 7 championship and made it to the semifinals in the state playoffs.
         In nominating Rauls for the Hall of Fame, Buckhorn Principal Todd Markham wrote: “I have known Coach Rauls for many years. We have worked together as coaches, and I now serve as his principal. He is a man of great character, and he has devoted his life to coaching and teaching young people.”

He also has coached American Legion baseball for Post 237, winning state championships in 1990 and 1993.

           Another letter of nomination came from Buckhorn Athletic Director David Carroll. “I have known him since around 1984,” Carroll said. “He was just ‘Al’ to me as an eight-year-old boy signing up to play basketball, soccer or baseball. He worked for the Madison Recreation Center and always had a big smile and that trademark deep voice. I would see him at the gym, all gyms it seemed, for he was also a basketball official. I waved at him as I rode my bicycle on the walkway up and down Hughes Road.

          “As luck would have it, Coach Rauls took over the head baseball and assistant football jobs at New Hope High School as I entered the 9th grade. I would see him plenty over the next four years as the New Hope/Bob Jones rivalry in football and baseball had championship implications every year. Coach Rauls had a deep impact on the players he coached at BJHS, and they became my mentors.
          “A vivid memory I have of my first day of baseball practice involves a drill run by senior Paul Fulda. We were working on ‘crow-hops’ in the outfield, and I was not familiar with it. As I struggled to catch on, I questioned, ‘Why are we doing this?’ Fulda’s reply was simply, ‘Coach Rauls taught us to do it this way.’ I had pride that I was at least indirectly coached by Al Rauls.

“As years passed and I got into coaching, our paths crossed several times. Any time I could pick his brain or ask advice he would never hesitate to talk ball with me. I had had countless conversations with those who either played for or coached with him. He is revered. I am now fortunate to be his athletic director as he has coached softball at Buckhorn. Although he is now coaching girls, the winning and the reverence is still the same.”  
WEDNESDAY: Ann Schilling – Perseverance and Passion Has Been her Trademark.

Carver-Montgomery Director of Bands Selected as Section 3 Recipient of NFHS National High School Heart of the Arts Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             Contact: John Gillis

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2018) —LaFrancis Davis, the director of bands at Montgomery’s Carver High School, has been selected as the 2018 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Cecelia Egan of Riverside (Rhode Island) St. Mary Academy-Bay View has been selected the 2018 national recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
          Davis will be recognized at the AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches banquet on Friday night, July 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
         The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities. This is the fifth year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered. Eight

Ever since he was a student at Slocomb High School, Davis has had a passion for music. However, he was also a tremendous athlete who excelled in football, basketball, baseball and track. As such, he often faced schedule conflicts between athletics and performing arts.

By the time he was a junior, Davis had developed into a very talented all-around athlete who emerged as one of the state’s best football running backs. Band director Debra Lynn Long encouraged Davis to keep playing football and to keep playing the trumpet. He would often gain several yards in the first half of a football game and then march in his football uniform in the Marching Red Top Band before returning to the backfield in the second half.

When Davis prepared to graduate, several college football programs vied for his services. While Davis really wanted to play college football, he also wanted to major in music. He chose to attend Alabama A&M University, which had an outstanding music program.

After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army for 10 years. After that, he was persuaded to become band director at Coffee Springs High School. After resurrecting a struggling program there, he moved to Geneva County High School. He had two more stops along the way before landing at Carver, where he encourages his students to not just “… love all music, but to love playing the music and singing the songs even more.”
           He rejuvenated Carver’s struggling band program from less than 60 members to now more than 150. He also started a band program at its feeder middle school that now nearly 100 students involved as well.

Alabama Football Official Selected as Section 3 Recipient of NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             Contact: John Gillis

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2018) — Mark Russell, a high school football official and president of the Huntsville (Alabama) City Council, has been selected as the 2018 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Russell will be recognized at the AHSAA Summer Conference Championship Coaches awards banquet Friday night, July 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

The National High School Spirit of Sport Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics. Marissa Walker, a student-athlete at Waterford (Connecticut) High School, was selected the 2018 national recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award.” One recipient from each of the NFHS’s eight districts was selected for section recognition.
           An Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and youth league football official for more than 30 years, Russell has been a member of the Northeast Football Officials Association (NEFBOA) during most of that time. He has served as head of its nominating committee, as the leader of the local football association’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes group, and as chair of the NEFBOA’s benevolent committee projects. He has officiated several AHSAA state championship football games – most recently as a linesman at the 2017 Class 7A title game.

That seemingly innocuous officiating assignment was nothing less than a miracle. Just three months earlier on August 25, Russell was officiating a season-opening high school game between Alabama school Madison Academy and McCallie Academy from Tennessee. During the game, Russell collapsed on the field with heart failure. Paulette Berryman, a nurse who just happened to be working as the Madison Academy school photographer, was standing at the sidelines and quickly came to his aid performing CPR until he was revived. His heart had been stopped with no heartbeat for eight minutes while he lay unconscious on the ground in front of the packed stadium of fans.

He was then rushed by ambulance to Huntsville Hospital’s emergency ward. Within two hours, doctors stabilized him, implanted a stent, and he was sitting up with more than 40 officials who had rushed to the hospital ICU to pray for him and to support him during his time of need. Advised by the doctors to take some extended time off, Russell returned to football in less than a month for a coin toss, and then back as a linesman within six weeks.

There is Much More to ‘Coach Rags’ Than Wins and Losses Can Measure

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian


To fully measure the impact of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Randy Ragsdale, one needs to look past his 242 football coaching victories.
         That’s the opinion who those who know him, including Trinity Presbyterian High School’s head of school Kerry Palmer. “There is so much more to ‘Coach Rags’ than metrics can measure,” Palmer said. “Randy Ragsdale is one of the finest human beings I have ever known. He truly loves and cares for all of the students at our school – not just ‘his boys’. He learns every name, knows every relationship and demonstrates real interest in each individual student. Randy’s positivity, enthusiasm and optimism are always present and are contagious.”
       Ragsdale is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018 at the Hall of Fame banquet March 19 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
      A native of Coyners, a suburban city near Atlanta, Ragsdale attended Rockdale County High School, graduating in 1975.
      After an outstanding high school career, he received a football scholarship to Jacksonville State University. At JSU he earned All-American honors starting at tackle for three years and played in the NCAA Division II National Championship game in 1978 as a senior.
      Upon graduation the following spring, he accepted a position at north Clayton High School in Georgia where he was an assistant coach for three years. He then moved to Fayette County (GA) where he coached from 1982-85.

      In 1985 he moved to Alabama and joined the Northview High School coaching staff as defensive coordinator at the Dothan school. His impact was felt immediately as Northview won the 1985 Class 6A state championship.

      After four years at Northview, Ragsdale moved to Trinity Presbyterian as head football coach, a position he held through the 2016 season. Although he announced his retirement from coaching, he continues to serve in the Middle School Dean position he has held since 2006.
      With his retirement from football, Ragsdale legacy includes:

·         He compiled an overall head-coaching record of 242-86.

·         His teams qualified for the state playoffs 25 times in 28 seasons.

·         Trinity was 15-0 in 2003 and won the Class 4A state championship.

·         The Wildcats compiled a 45-game regular-season win streak from 2000-05.

·         His teams won 13 Region titles with an overall 116-23 region record.

·         He served as a coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, was head coach in the North-South All-Star Game in 2010 and assistant coach in 1997 and 2004; and also coached a team in the Down under Bowl in Australia.

·         He was named 2003 State Coach of the Year and was selected three times Metro Coach of the Year.

·         Received the prestigious Herman L. “Bubba” Scott Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2017 for his positive impact as a coach and commitment to his faith.

·         The City of Montgomery proclaimed October 10, 2017, as Randy Ragsdale Day with commendations coming from the mayor’s office and the governor’s office.

     “He makes our school better, and he makes the world better,” Palmer said. “Coach Ragsdale is not simply a colleague. He is a close personal friend and my brother in Christ.”

      Todd Parsons, president of the Trinity Presbyterian Board of Trustees, added, “Coach Ragsdale put the Trinity football program on the map and compiled a record on the field of play that may never again be matched by a coach at a single school in Montgomery. Several members of our Trustee Board played for Coach Ragsdale and admire and respect him greatly.
      “In fact, our board has voted to re-name our football field in honor of Coach Ragsdale. Our playing field will be known as Ragsdale-Boykin Field, honoring what we believe to be two of the finest men ever to serve this institution.“
     In a 2014 interview with Duane Rankin of The Montgomery Advertiser, Ragsdale attributed part of his success to a simple motto his teams strived to live by: “Be accountable.”
      “Our young men work to try to do what we ask them to do,” he said. “We repeat that over and over and over again. I think that comes with helping teach them to handle their own stuff. They’ve got to be personally accountable. And I say this in a positive way. We’re going to demand that out of them.”
      Wilson Van Hooser, a former Trinity player who played collegiately at Tulane and Troy and received a tryout with the New England Patriots, was asked why Trinity has one of the best football programs in the state.
       “I tell people this all the time,” he said, referring to what he learned as a member of a Randy Ragsdale-coached team. “We were a bunch of crazy, small guys out there. We weren’t the most athletic team out there. We had one or two (outstanding players) and my senior year we had three or four. (What we did have)  was just a bunch out there who would lunge into people and knew how to play by the details.
       We were relentless. We never let up. Whether we’re down or up, we (would) keep the pedal to the metal the whole game.”
Tuesday: Alvin Rauls – A trailblazer in high school athletics.

Deshler’s John Mothershed Connected With Students on and off the Field

                          By Bill Plott
                                          AHSAA Historian


          Longtime Deshler High School head football coach John Mothershed displayed an innate ability to connect with students – on and off the football field.
          Current Deshler principal Russ Tate supports that assessment.
          “Coach Mothershed was not only a winner on the football field, but also a great teacher,” Tate said. “I have been told by many former teachers and students about his amazing ability to connect with students first in the classroom and then on the field. His teaching ability was respected by all members of the faculty at Deshler High School.”
          Mothershed is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018 at the Hall of Fame banquet March 19 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. He compiled a 201-53 head-coaching record at Deshler from 1995-2013.
          Molding youngsters into men was his even bigger accomplishment, Tate said.
         “While his athletic accomplishments are numerous and most deserving of this award, we must never forget why we are in this business of education, and that is to mold and develop the minds of our youth,” Tate said. “Coach Mothershed took the same principles that he taught to his players and used them to impact the entire school. He was a teacher first and coach second.”
          A native of Florence, John Mothershed attended Sheffield High School where he lettered in football and wrestling. He was All-Area in football during his senior season and a state runner-up in wrestling in the 155-pound weight class.

          After high school, he attended the University of North Alabama where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1985. While in college, he actually began his high school coaching career, serving as assistant wrestling coach. After graduation he returned to his alma mater as assistant football coach.

          In 1987 he left Sheffield and accepted a position as teacher and assistant at Deshler High School. From 1987-94 he worked with Coach Tandy Gerelds, a 2016 Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame inductee. During those eight years with Gerelds, Mothershed helped develop a program that was in the state playoffs every year, including 1990 when the Tigers won the state championship with a 15-0 record. Deshler was also runner-up the following year.

          In 1995 he was promoted to head football coach and athletic director. He gave up the athletic director position in 2007 to concentrate on coaching, a role he held until 2013. Deshler won his 200th game in the final regular season game in 2013, a 49-20 win over North Jackson. During his career at Deshler, Mothershed had the following accomplishments:

·       An overall record of 201-53, a 71% winning mark

·       Class 4A State Championships in 1998 and 1999

·       Class 4A runners-up in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010

·       13 Area and Region championships with a record of 103-13

·       In the state playoffs each of his 19 years, advancing to the third round in all but three of those years, with an overall playoff record of 49-17


     “(I think) every coach (at Deshler) will be measured against his success,” Tate said. “Coach Mothershed was a winner and invoked a winning attitude into every sport here at Deshler High School. I was lucky enough to watch from afar while Coach Mothershed was the head football coach, and it was one of the first scores I always tried to find on Friday night during football season.
   “During Mothershed’s tenure as coach, he accumulated a multitude of playoff victories, won back-to-back state titles, finished as state runner-up numerous times, and concluded his coaching career with a 201-53 record.  That is why every coach who will ever patrol the sidelines at Deshler High School will have a difficult challenge of measuring up to the standard that Coach Mothershed established.”

          In a 2009 interview with Sean Lowery, Mothershed talked of his coaching philosophy.

          “All eyes are on you, and the more successful your program, the more eyes are on you. It kind of goes to Matthew 5:14, ‘You are the light of the world.’ Those that are behind you look to you for leadership. Those that are against you watch closely to see if you stumble so they can pounce on that,” he said.

           Asked how you handle that kind of pressure, Coach Mothershed said, “You just do what you can do. You’re just a man, and you’re not anything more than that. So, you just focus on your job and doing your job. You don’t get too excited when they are praising you, nor do you get too down when they are trashing you. You just go on and do your job.”
         From 2001-03 he served as vice president of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association He was president in 2004.

          He was inducted into the Colbert County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
MONDAY: Randy Ragsdale – Much more to him than wins and losses.