A search for 'Alabama values' in the heart of the state

There is no easy way into the heart of Alabama.

It's not near Birmingham. Not even close. It's not near Huntsville, or Mobile, or Montgomery or even Nick Saban's Tuscaloosa. It's not near anything, really, except for an old cotton gin, and a few paper mills.

The heart of Alabama is Sweet Water High School, and it's down a small country road in Marengo County, and then an even smaller country road, and then a piece of road so small and so familiar to the people who travel it, they know exactly where the lazy dogs will be resting every day as they drive by. Down that road, in southwest Alabama, is the heart of this state, and you can't begin to understand it unless you go there.

When it comes to finding Sweet Water, or a place like it, when it comes to searching for the heart of Alabama, the Internet is a useless tool. It will only get you more lost if you try to use it. Indeed, Sweet Water is so small it's not on Google Maps.

But it's there, just like it has always been -- town population: 246.

There is a blinking yellow light in Sweet Water, but the logging trucks don't slow down for it. Small clouds of ditch cotton rise up and dance down main street as they drive past. The local cotton gin has been in operation since 1840. This has been a big year for Alabama cotton, so they might be ginning in Sweet Water until February.

A lot of people have been questioning the heart of Alabama these days, and wondering what it is, and knowing what it is not, so I went for a visit. If there are such things as "Alabama values," Sweet Water High School is where they teach them.

"If this country ran like this school does, we wouldn't have any problems," said Sweet Water principal Phyllis Mabowitz. "We are a picture of our community, and the population here in this part of the state."

I spoke with teachers, coaches and students, the librarian and the mayor, the guys working the cotton gin and the woman who cooks the butterbeans and collard greens at the local diner. Sweet Water is timber country, and 11 tiny communities feed the school. Anyone in the county can attend, but Sweet Water also takes people from outside Marengo County if there's room.

On the eve of Sweet Water's proudest moment in years -- an appearance in the Class 1A state football championship game on Thursday -- I went and spent the day. It is a special place, and easy to love. The people of Sweet Water and Marengo County are proud of their K-12 school, which excels in both academics and athletics. They call it the "treasure in the forest." It truly is.

Sweet Water might be the best little school in Alabama.

"This is a family," said librarian Patricia Jones. "You don't meet a stranger when you come here. The people are just down home."

Jones says she has the best job in the school. She gets to "roll around on the ground" and read to kindergarteners in the morning, and then helps seniors with their literature and research papers in the afternoon.

"Because we are such a small school, we get to influence the kids all the way from preschool to when they graduate from high school," Jones said. "And the big kids get to influence the little kids."

On Tuesday, the library was transformed into a banquet hall for Sweet Water's annual senior luncheon. Jones bragged that 11 of her upperclassmen scored above a 30 on the ACT. For a school with a senior class of 42 in rural Alabama, that's a remarkable number. The next day, a researcher from the University of Missouri visited the school for an ongoing project, and told the Mabowitz, the principal, "I need to come here more often. I sometimes lose hope that there are places still like this in education."

Sweet Water is one of 12 remaining K-12 schools in the state. It is 61 percent white and 37 percent black. Almost 70 percent of those who attend receive free or reduced lunches. Some of the bus routes are over 90-minutes long. Much like the rest of Alabama, Sweet Water is a place shaped by its past, but looking to the future.

"Our parents don't have lots of resources, but the resource they have is work ethic," Mabowitz said. "They expect that from their children, and we see it in our classrooms, and we see it on our playing fields."

In the heart of Alabama, there's a thing people value almost more than a nurturing classroom environment for their children. That thing is high school football. At Sweet Water, they play the game very well. Sweet Water has won eight state championships (1978, 1979, 1982, 1986, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010), and they'll try to make it nine at 3 p.m. on Thursday against Pickens County.

To reach the AHSAA's Super 7 at Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium, Sweet Water had to come from behind against defending state champion Maplesville, and last week's semifinal opponent, Wadley. The bus ride to Wadley took almost four hours, according to Sweet Water's star player, Shamar Lewis.

Lewis plays middle linebacker and running back for Sweet Water. Last week, he returned a fumble for a touchdown and assisted on a game-winning goal-line stand.

Before the football team left for Tuscaloosa and the state championship game, Lewis and his teammates walked through their school's hallway and high-fived the younger students. In Sweet Water's main building, the antique hardwood floors are polished to a dull shine from decades of lacquer and varnish. They creak and moan underfoot.

"We got caring people down here," Shamar said. "They all want to see you do good, and they're tough on you with your work because they want to see you do the best that you can. It's just good people to be around."

Sweet Water's football coach, Pat Thompson, grew up in the area. His father worked in the timber industry, but he was called to coaching. Like most everyone in Sweet Water, Thompson hunts and fishes and goes to church for fun. He was nice enough to entertain this reporter's questions before his team's big game. In the heart of Alabama, they are nothing if not accommodating.

What makes Sweet Water so special?

"The people," he said.

His inspirational motto for this year's team borrows a verse from the Bible, Hebrews 12:1. Finish strong, reads a quote on Thompson's cluttered wall ... "and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

The bible verse is tacked above another quote he values as a leader of young people. It's from the famous American psychiatrist, Karl Menninger: "What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches."

Joseph Goodman is a columnist for Alabama Media Group. He's on Twitter @JoeGoodmaJr.

SUPER 7 CLASS 7A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP Hoover 48, McGill-Toolen Catholic 20

Hoover 48, McGill-Toolen Catholic 20
TUSCALOOSA – Hoover High School posted 27 points in the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium Wednesday night en route  to a 48-20 victory McGill-Toolen Catholic (13-1) to claim the AHSAA Class 7A state championship for the third time in four seasons.
    Senior quarterback Jalen Parker completed 11-of-15 passes for 265 yards and four touchdowns to earn MVP honors as the Bucs (11-3) added state championship No. 13 to the Hoover trophy case. Coach Josh Niblett, who has coached the last six, said this year’s squad completed a feat in style, beating three straight undefeated teams in the playoffs to capture the 2017 crown.
Hoover took the lead midway through the first quarter when junior Larry McCammon scored on a 16-yard run. Barrett Pickering kicked the first of six extra points for a 7-0 lead. Coach Earnest Hill’s Yellow Jackets made it 7-3 with 31 seconds left in the quarter on Chase Mahler’s 28-yard field goal.
    Parker and star receivers Shedrick Jackson and George Pickens took over in the second quarter, however. Pickens hauled in a 7-yard pass from Parker early in the second period to put Hoover up 14-3. Mahler added his second field goal, a 24-yarder, with 4:24 remaining in the second period to close the gap to 14-6.
    The Bucs dominated the final four minutes of the half with Jackson hauling in TD passes of 70 and 16 yards and Pickens grabbing a 54-yard scoring connection. Vonte Brackett added a 4-yard scoring run as Hoover built a 34-6 lead by intermission.
    Jackson, who finished with six catches for 160 yards, snagged his second TD reception on a 16-yard pass late in the third period and Jacquez Allen scored on a 9-yard run with 9:31 left to play to make it 48-6.
    McGill-Toolen scored twice in the final 6:06 with Khalil Nettles racing 14 yards for a TD and Shelton Layman connecting with Turner McLaughlin for a 75-yard touchdown pass.
     Hoover finished with 26 first downs, 281 yards passing, 230 rushing and 511 total yards.
     Pickens finished with two catches for 61 yards and two scores. McCammon also had 106 yards rushing on 13 carries and Brackett had 59 on 10 attempts.  Noah Williams also had a 48-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
     Layman finished 20-of-32 passing for 210 yards and one TD for the Jackets, who totaled 326 yards and 18 first downs on the night. McLaughlin had four catches for 105 yards and Carlos Evans grabbed four receptions for 32 yards.
    Hoover’s defense was led Myles Spurling with nine tackles, Isaiah Hubbard and Greg Russell with eight each, Adrian Hill with seven and Devon Scott with six, including three for 24 yards in losses. McGill-Toolen’s Chris Hites had 13 tackles and Korian Wilson had 11 to lead the Jackets.
    The Bucs previous state titles came in 2016, 2014,  2013, 2012, 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 1977 and a co-championship in 1982.  McGill-Toolen has reached the 7A finals three years in a row with a state crown in 2015 and runner-up finishes in 2016 and 2017.
    The Super 7 State Championships continue Thursday with Class 3A, 1A and 5A championships at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m., respectively. Randolph County (13-1) and Hillcrest-Evergreen kick off the action in the 3A finals.  All games will be televised lived over the Raycom Media Network of stations across the state. For details, go to www.pathtotheplayoffs.com. The NFHS Network will live-stream the Raycom production over its subscriber-based network, and the games will also be live-streamed on You Tube.

SUPER 7 UNIFIED GAME CHAMPIONSHIP Baldwin County 20, Vestavia Hills 6

    TUSCALOOSA – T.J. Caraway completed 16-of-26 passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Baldwin County School System Unified football team to a 20-6 win over Vestavia Hills High School Wednesday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Unified game, which partners the AHSAA and Special Olympics Alabama, kicked off the 2017 AHSAA Super 7 State Football Championships.
     Jacob Bankster caught seven passes for 41 yards and a 15-yard touchdown for Coach Mike Connor. Bandits teammate Jared may had six catches for 44 yards and a 1-yard TD reception, and Chad Reno caught two passes, one covering 14 yards for the final Baldwin County TD. Reno also caught a pass for the conversion.
Smith finished 7-of-18 passing for 87 yards. Weyman Prater was the leading receiver with three catches and 28 yards.
    Leading Baldwin County on defense was May with six tackles and two interceptions. Prayter had eight for the Rebels, and Turner Parker had six. Baldwin County had three picks with Bankster getting the final one. Prater also had an interception for Vestavia.
      Vestavia Hills scored in the first half on a 35-yard pass from Thad Smith to Britton Rembert. The Rebels of Coach Terry Tingle trailed just 7-6 at the half. 
     The 62nd annual AHSAA football playoffs will feature seven finals with Hoover (10-3) facing McGill-Toolen Catholic (13-0) in the 7A finals Wednesday night. Thursday’s schedule kicks off with the 3A championship at 11 a.m. between Randolph County (13-1) and Hillcrest-Evergreen (13-1), followed by Sweet Water (12-1) and Pickens County (12-2) at 3 p.m., in the 1A  finals and Briarwood Christian (14-0) vs. St. Paul’s Episcopal (13-1) in the 5A finals at 7.
      The Super 7 Championships conclude Friday with UMS-Wright (12-2) facing Fayette County (12-2) in the 4A finals at 11 a.m.; Lanett (14-0) vs. Leroy (12-2) in the 2A championship at 3 p.m.; and Wetumpka (13-1) playing Pinson Valley (14-0) in the 6A title game at 7.

Raycom’s AHSAA Super TV Network and NFHS Network to Stream All Super 7 Football Championships & Unified Game over NFHS Network

     MONTGOMERY – All seven AHSAA Super 7 state championship football games will be available to viewers across the state at a Raycom affiliate or over the affiliate’s Bounce Channel as well as over the internet at the NFHS Network and You Tube.  
      Michael White of the NFHS Network announced Wednesday that Raycom and the NFHS Network have reached an agreement to live-stream the championships on the internet over the NFHS Network subscriber-based national network. The Unified Game, a partnership of the AHSAA and Special Olympics Alabama, kicks off the week today at 3:30 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium with Baldwin County facing Vestavia Hills. The game is being produced by the Hillcrest High School’s NFHS Network School Broadcast Program over the NFHS Network. The NFHS Network will pick up feeds from the Raycom broadcast for the seven championship games – beginning tonight with the Class 7A finals between defending champion Hoover (10-3) and McGill-Toolen Catholic (13-0). The link for the Unified game is:

The link for all other championship games is:


    There is no Raycom station is located in Mobile, but viewers from that area will have several ways to view the championships. According to Raycom Producer Rich Michaelson of Broadview Media, Mobile viewers can get the Raycom broadcast over WKRG TV,  which carrying all games over its D-3 channel (My TV) –  including McGill-Toolen Catholic vs. Hoover tonight, St. Paul’s Episcopal vs. Briarwood Christian in the 5A finals on Thursday night, and UMS-Wright vs. Fayette County in the 4A finals Friday.
    WKRG’s My TV channel can be found on the following Mobile area cable networks:
Comcast – Channel 177
Cox – Channel 699
Mediacom – Channel 81

   Cable channels showing the Super 7 Championships can be accessed for any community in the state by going to: http://www.pathtotheplayoffs.com/ and clicking on “Where to Watch.”

Live video-streaming of all seven championship games can also be accessed on You Tube. The links can be found at http://www.pathtotheplayoffs.com/

Community Volunteers Embrace Super 7 to Make Special Memories for Teams, Fans


December 5, 2017



Contact: Mike Perrin | 205-969-1331 | 205-540-7721 | mike@dcwins.com


Community Volunteers Embrace Super 7  

to Make Special Memories for Teams, Fans


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Once the Alabama High School Athletic Association Super 7 State Football Championships begin on Wednesday, it will be easy for fans to spot their favorite team. The team most responsible for the success of the event may not be quite as conspicuous, but it has been putting in extra hours making memories from three days at Bryant-Denny Stadium last a lifetime.


“The volunteers that each community provide for our championship events are the foundation of the event,” said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “Without those volunteers, we could not provide the quality event we do. We have so many people who give of their time to give back to the community.”


The long tradition of community support for AHSAA championship events began in Birmingham when the Monday Morning Quarterback Club and the Birmingham Tipoff Club got involved in the football and basketball championships decades ago. Now, with the football championships rotating between Tuscaloosa and Auburn, those communities and universities have taken up the mantle and taken it to a new level.


According to the Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports staff, there will be 434 volunteers working more than 1,700 hours during Super 7 week.


“Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports values our community partnerships above all else,” said Don Staley, the CEO and president of the tourism group. “Nothing is more vital to the success of our events than the selfless commitment of all those involved.”


Volunteers work as team hosts, selling and taking tickets at the gates, providing suite hospitality and staffing the press box. There are 62 volunteers per shift.


“I am a team host and having been doing this since 2009,” said Richard Powell, staff civil engineer at the University of Alabama. “My role is to coordinate everything that the team needs while in Tuscaloosa, which includes making sure that their hotel is ready for them when they arrive, restaurants can accommodate them, they have a place to have a walk-through or practice if needed and whatever else they need.”


It’s not just people who provide the vital support necessary to make the Super 7 a success. The universities and business community are critical partners.


“Both universities embrace our event,” Savarese said. “They treat us just like it’s any college football game that they’re hosting. It’s the most humbling experience I’ve been part of. It’s been such a great experience to watch Auburn and Alabama, who compete at the highest level, work together in the same fashion. It’s been a tremendous experience and I’ve gained a tremendous respect for both universities because of their commitment, their selflessness and their service to our member schools.”


Max Karrh, a senior vice president at Bryant Bank, said the finance professionals enjoy sharing their expertise – and getting out to the stadium. “Bryant Bank is proud to provide Super 7 volunteers each time it rolls around to Tuscaloosa,” he said. “With about 10 bankers, we have the fun opportunity to engage with, and welcome, the guests by helping sell tickets at the front gate. As a bank, we can lend our expertise and experience of handling cash properly and securely to enhance this statewide event that is a huge economic boost to Tuscaloosa. It’s a win-win situation for all involved!”


The teams involved in the Super 7 recognize how volunteers make the event run as smoothly as possible. The volunteers know how important their efforts are to the community and the participants, but they also get something extra from giving their time.


“I volunteer because I feel like it is vital to help people in need, which I feel is a worthwhile cause, while helping the community and hopefully making it a better place,” Powell said. “I believe that volunteering is a two-way street. It benefits the individual as much as it benefits the organization that you are helping. I believe that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience. Volunteering allows me to connect with others that, in turn, brings fun and fulfillment to my life.


“This experience has allowed me to make new friends, and has expanded my network by exposing me to people with common interests,” he said. “Finally, I enjoy volunteering because it allows me to establish strong relationships, it is good for society and it gives me a sense of purpose.”


Savarese pointed out a monetary benefit of having such an outpouring of community support at the Super 7 venues. “Because of our volunteers, we’re able to give back to our schools with guarantees for playing in the playoffs,” he said. “Whether they have five fans or 5,000 – they are going to get a guarantee because of the universities’ commitment to the event and the communities’ commitment. It lowers our expenses and we’re able to do more for our member schools.”


# # #


The Alabama High School Athletic Association, founded in 1921, is a private agency organized by its member schools to control and promote their athletic programs. The purpose of the AHSAA is to regulate, coordinate and promote the interscholastic athletic programs among its member schools, which include public, private and parochial institutions. 

Raycom’s AHSAA Super TV Network Telecasts Being Made Available in Mobile at WKRG TV Digital Channel

     MONTGOMERY – All seven AHSAA Super 7 state championship football games will be available to viewers across the state at a Raycom affiliate or over the affiliate’s Bounce Channel and over the internet on You Tube by live video-stream. There is no Raycom station is located in Mobile, but viewers from that area will have several ways to view the championships.
    According to Raycom Producer Rich Michaelson of Broadview Media, WKRG TV, over its D-3 channel (My TV), is carrying all games live – including McGill-Toolen Catholic vs. Hoover in the 7A state finals Wednesday night; St. Paul’s Episcopal vs. Briarwood Christian in the 5A finals on Thursday night; and UMS-Wright vs. Fayette County in the 4A finals Friday.
    WKRG’s My TV channel can be found on the following Mobile area cable networks:
Comcast – Channel 177
Cox – Channel 699
Mediacom – Channel 81

Cable channels showing the Super 7 Championships can be accessed for any community in the state by going to: http://www.pathtotheplayoffs.com/ and clicking on “Where to Watch.”

Live video-streaming of all seven championship games can be accessed at the following You Tube links:

·         McGill-Toolen v. Hoover 7A
Direct Link: https://youtu.be/_9vMLkhGHtY

·         Hillcrest-Evergreen vs. Randolph Co 3A
Direct Link: https://youtu.be/8RJGu0b_UTU

·         Sweet Water vs. Pickens County 1A
Direct Link: https://youtu.be/zFt_J6Bny0w

·         Briarwood Christian vs. St. Paul’s Ep 5A
Direct Link: https://youtu.be/vWqD_ARIe2Q

·         Fayette County vs. UMS-Wright 4A
Direct Link: https://youtu.be/rLHYuWbdRKA

·         Lanett vs. Leroy 2A
Direct Link: https://youtu.be/cscyiyPmfoY

·         Wetumpka vs. Pinson Valley 6A
Direct Link: https://youtu.be/9RSiT5QWMs0

Baldwin County vs. Vestavia Hills (Unifed Game)
Direct Link: http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/hillcresttuscaloosa-high-school-tuscaloosa-al/0125064dce

Raycom Media schedule and main channel AHSAA Super 7 Football telecast Dec. 6-8

        MONTGOMERY – Raycom Media is pleased to announce the TV schedule for the 2017 AHSAA Super 7 Football games to be televised live and web-streamed from Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa this week. Raycom announced today the slate of games airing December 6-8 from Bryant-Denny stadium in Tuscaloosa.  As an AHSAA TV Partner the live broadcast of the Super 7 championships game will are available on 5 Raycom affiliates in-state WAFF, WBRC, WSFA, WTVM, WDFX and WKRG Dot 3 in Mobile many on main channels in their markets. The games will be either on Raycom’s Bounce channel or main channel. Check the chart below for more details. The AHSAA/Special Olympics Alabama Unified Game, which is being produced by Brent Jones and the Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa High School’s NFHS Network School Broadcast Program,  will also be free to all viewers over the NFHS Network. Go to http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/explore/upcoming/school/79b4a0a4a9 for more information. The link for the game should be uploaded by the end of the day Tuesday.







Wednesday 12/6 7:00 PM

McGill-Toolen v. Hoover


WKRG - Mobile
Comcast - 177
Cox - 699
Mediacom - 81







Thursday 12/7 11:00 AM

Hillcrest-Evergreen vs. Randolph Co





Thursday 12/7 3:00 PM

Sweet Water vs. Pickens Co.




Thursday 12/7 7:00 PM

Briarwood Christian vs. St. Paul’s Ep










Friday 12/8 11:00 AM

Fayette County vs. UMS-Wright





Friday 12/8 3:00 PM

Lanett vs. Leroy




Friday 12/8 7:00 PM

Wetumpka vs. Pinson Valley





McGill-Toolen v. Hoover 7A

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/_9vMLkhGHtY

Hillcrest-Evergreen vs. Randolph Co 3A

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/8RJGu0b_UTU

Sweet Water vs. Pickens County 1A

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/zFt_J6Bny0w

Briarwood Christian vs. St. Paul’s Ep 5A

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/vWqD_ARIe2Q

Fayette County vs. UMS-Wright 4A

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/rLHYuWbdRKA

Lanett vs. Leroy 2A

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/cscyiyPmfoY

Wetumpka vs. Pinson Valley 6A

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/9RSiT5QWMs0

This event is sure to be a special time for high school teams and their communities in the recognition for their yearlong achievements. We look forward to giving the fans and families of these schools a great production and a memory of this event that will last a lifetime.


Viewers can go to www.pathtotheplayoffs.com for more information and channel schedule for the games airing in your area.

Tickets can be purchased on line. For ticket information, go to: https://gofan.co/app/school/AHSAA/Super7

Super 7 Set for Bryant-Denny Stadium, Dec. 6-7-8 Championship Pairings Set for 62nd AHSAA State Football Playoffs

     MONTGOMERY – Four unbeaten teams and one defending state champion advanced to the 2017 Super 7 State Football Championships set for the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium, Dec. 6-7-8.
    Randolph County (13-1) avenged a regular-season 41-31 loss to two-time defending Class 3A state champion and Region 5 rival Piedmont in the semifinals Friday with a dramatic 35-28 win over the Bulldogs to clinch a berth in championship game.  Coach Pat Prestridge’s Tigers from Wedowee scored the winning touchdown with 1.6 seconds remaining in the game. Randolph County had a chance to tie the game at 28-28 a few minutes earlier but failed on a two-point try.
      “It was an incredible finish,” Prestridge said of the semifinal win. Piedmont won the 2015 and 2016 Class 3 state titles. The Tigers, 36-5 over the last three seasons with two losses coming at the hands of Piedmont, will face Hillcrest-Evergreen (13-1), which beat Region 1 rival Clarke County 20-14 to reach the Super 7 finals for the first time in school history. Randolph County last reached the finals in 1998.
      Leroy (12-2) went for two in its 28-21 win over Goshen in the semifinals. The Bears of Coach Jason Massey took the lead 22-21 with 1:26 left going for two after trailing for most of the game, then blocked a 45-yard field goal attempt by the Eagles in the final seconds and ran the blocked kick back for a final touchdown. Lanett (14-0) downed Sulligent (12-2) 59-28 to capture the other 2A championship game berth.
    In Class 5A, St. Paul’s Episcopal (13-1) and Briarwood Christian (14-0) won close game in the semifinals to reach the finals. Coach Steve Mask’s Saints edged Demopolis 20-19 and Coach Fred Yancey’s Lions rebounded from a 27-10 halftime deficit to beat St. Clair County 37-33.
     The Saints and Lions, with eight state titles between them, played in the 2007 state finals – a game that included two blocked kicks in the final minutes. St. Paul’s won 14-13. Both starting quarterbacks in that game, A.J. McCarron of St. Paul’s and Barrett Trotter of Briarwood, met again in college in the Iron Bowl as starters for Alabama and Auburn, respectively.
     In Class 6A, Wetumpka (13-1) beat Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 44-27 and Pinson Valley (14-0) beat Clay-Chalkville 37-7 to reach the finals for the first time in school history. In Class 4A, Fayette County (12-2) beat previously undefeated Saks 34-7 and UMS-Wright (12-2) nipped Andalusia 35-28 to set up the 4A championship game. And in Class 1A, Pickens County (12-2) scored 29 points in the fourth quarter to beat South Lamar 35-7 and Sweet Water (12-1) edged Wadley 27-21 in the other semifinal to advance to the Super 7.
      Hoover (10-3) and McGill-Toolen Catholic (13-0) clinched spots in the 7A finals on Nov. 24. The Bucs are the only defending champion to advance to the finals this season. The Yellow Jackets are one four teams still unbeaten. Lanett, Briarwood Christian and Pinson Valley are the other unbeaten teams in the Super 7.
    Schools reaching the Super 7 championships for the first are: Hillcrest-Evergreen, Lanett, Wetumpka, Pinson Valley and Baldwin County’s Unified team. 
     Raycom Media, the AHSAA’s TV partner, will televise all seven championships over its Raycom network of affiliates. The AHSAA Radio Network will broadcast all seven finals as well.
    UNIFIED TEAMS IN SUPER 7: Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa’s NFHS Network School Broadcast Program will live-stream the fourth annual Unified Sports game between Vestavia Hills and Baldwin County, which kicks off the Super 7 Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The AHSAA partners with Special Olympics Alabama to host the annual flag football game.
    Complete Super 7 pairings:

Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
Wednesday, Dec. 6
Baldwin County vs. Vestavia Hills, 3:30 p.m.

McGill-Toolen Catholic (13-0) vs. Hoover (10-3), 7 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 7
Hillcrest-Evergreen (13-1) vs. Randolph County (13-1), 11 a.m.

Sweet Water (12-1) vs. Pickens County (12-2), 3 p.m.

Briarwood Christian (14-0) vs. St. Paul’s Episcopal (13-1), 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 8
Fayette County (12-2) vs. UMS-Wright (12-2), 11 a.m.

Lanett (14-0) vs. Leroy (12-2), 3 p.m.

Wetumpka (13-1) vs. Pinson Valley (14-0), 7 p.m.

AHSAA 2017 Football Playoffs
Semifinal Results (Friday, Dec. 1)

Sweet Water (12-1) 27, Wadley (12-1) 21
Pickens County (12-2) 35, South Lamar (10-4) 7

Leroy (12-2) 28, Goshen (12-2) 21
Lanett (14-0) 59, Sulligent (12-2) 28

Hillcrest-Evergreen (13-1) 20, Clarke County (11-3) 14
Randolph County (13-1) 35,  Piedmont (12-2) 28

UMS-Wright (12-2) 35, Andalusia (12-2) 28
Fayette County (12-2) 34, Saks (13-1) 7

St. Paul’s Episcopal (13-1) 20, Demopolis (11-3) 19
Briarwood Christian (14-0) 35, St. Clair County (10-4) 33

Wetumpka (13-1) 44, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (10-4) 27
Pinson Valley (14-0) 37, Clay-Chalkville (11-3) 7

CLASS 7A (Nov. 24)
McGill-Toolen Catholic (13-0) 27, Central-Phenix City (12-1) 26 (OT)
Hoover (10-3) 31, Thompson (12-1)

58th AHSAA Swimming & Diving Championships Westminster, St. Paul’s, Auburn and Huntsville Repeat as AHSAA State Swimming Champions

AUBURN – Fifteen AHSAA state swimming records were set Saturday and defending champions Westminster Christian, Auburn, St. Paul’s Episcopal and Huntsville repeated as team winners as the 58th AHSAA State Swimming & Diving Championships concluded at James. E. Martin Aquatics Center at Auburn University.
    Huntsville’s boys, coached by Arthur Fortin, won the 6A/7A state title with 321 points as the Panthers notched their fourth state title in the last 16 years and recorded their 14th overall. Auburn was second with 259 points. Auburn’s girls of Coach Jeff Dellinger posted 339.50 points captured the Tigers’ fifth girls’ AHSAA crown in a row to beat runner-up Huntsville (263). Westminster Christian, coached by  Roger Von Jouanne, out-pointed runner-up and Huntsville rival St. John Paul II Catholic of 331-285 to claim its second Class 1A/5A girls’ state championship, and St. Paul’s Episcopal, coached by Tyler Kerns, accumulated 357 points to win the Saints’ fourth consecutive Class 1A/5A boys’ crown.
   Of the 15 records that fell in the swimming competition this weekend, senior Kolbie Melton of Athens broke one all-time mark – winning the Class 1A/5A 100-yard backstroke in a record 54.67-second time. Paige Madden of UMS-Wright had held the previous record (54.91) since 2014. Eight boys’ AHSAA records fell and seven girls’ records were broken in the 2017 state meet.
   Two additional records were set by senior Kailee Lusk of Thompson in the Adaptive Sports 50 and 100-yard freestyle events. She bettered her prelim time in the 50-yard race from 41.29 seconds to 39.83 in the finals to establish an AHSAA record in the adaptive division. She also swam 1:32.62 in the 100-yard freestyle prelims and then established the adaptive record in the event in the finals with a time of 1:29.39.
    For complete event results, go to the following link at www.ahsaa.com.

For complete team results go to:


AHSAA 58th annual Swimming & Diving Championships
At James E. Martin Aquatics Center, Auburn University

200-Yard Medley: Huntsville clocked 1:36.43 in the finals to beat the previous record of 1:36.65 set by Auburn in 2016. The Panthers’ relay team consisted of Caleb Chance, Alexander Nurre, Evan Vela and Stephen O’Neil.
100-Yard Freestyle: Northview junior Wen Zhang tied his own 6A/7A record set in 2016 with a winning time of 44.78 in the finals Saturday.
500-Yard Freestyle: Sophomore Ward Lockhart of Spain Park set the 6A/7A state record in the prelims with a time of 4:40.91 in the prelims and broke his own mark in the finals with a 4:38.88.
100-Yard Backstroke: Huntsville’s Caleb Chance set a new 6A/7A record in the prelims with a time of 50.54 and bettered that mark in the finals (40.46) to set a new record on Saturday.
100-Yard Breastroke: Daphne’s Trey Sheils won the event Saturday with a time of 57.51 seconds – just shy of the 57.08 time he swan in Friday’s prelims to set a new 6A/7A record.


50-Yard Freestyle: Junior Dexter Brown of Jackson set a new 1A/5A record in the prelims with a 21.50 time and broke that mark in the finals swimming 21.39.

200-Yard Freestyle Relay: The St. Paul's Episcopal relay ream of Addison Sims, Antoine Seurot, Stephen Conrad and Noah Prevost swan 1:33.91 to set a new Class 1A/5A state meet mark – topping the Saints’ record-setting time of 1:34.22 swan in 2016.
100-Yard Breastroke: Senior Kyle Vosen of Scottsboro clocked 58.48 in the finals to better the 1A/5A record he set in 2016 and won the event by almost two seconds.


Class 6A/7A Girls
200-yard Medley Relay: Auburn’s relay team of Maggie Casey, Annie Frances Dallas, Hadley Dowdle and Anna Kate McGinty swam the distance in 1:46.24, just shy of the record set by Auburn in 2016.
100-Yard Backstroke: Athens senior Kobie Melton clocked 54.67 seconds in the finals to set the 6A/7A record she set Friday in the prelims (55.08) and also broke the AHSAA’s all-time mark of 54.91 set by UMS-Wright’s Paige Madden in 2014.
100-Yard Breastroke: Grissom’s Alison Hu clocked 1:03.19 in the finals to break the 6A/7A state record of 1:03.77 set in the prelims by freshman Letitia Sims of Spanish Fort. Sims bettered her own prelim time in the finals swimming 1:03.64 and finished second in the event.
Adaptive 50-Yard and 100-Yard Freestyle: Kailee Lusk, a senior at Thompson, established the AHSAA record with a time of 39.83 seconds in the finals. She followed with a time of 1:29.39 in the 100-yard freestyle finals to set another adaptive record.


200-Yard Freestyle:
Freshman Rebekah Hamilton of Westminster Christian set a new AHSAA Class 1A/5A state record with a prelims time of 1:51.85 and then broke that mark with a 1:50.04 time in the finals. She set the previous record (1:51.85) last year as an eighth grader.
200-Yard IM: Katie Pollard of Madison Academy clocked 2:06.85 to win the event break her own record time. The sophomore set the AHSAA mark for 1A/5A in 2016 with a 2:07.19.
100-Yard Freestyle:  Westminster Christian freshman Eboni McCarty set a new AHSAA 1A/5A record in the prelims (51.69) but Altamont’s Anna-Julia Kutsch topped that mark in the finals with a 50.39 time. McCarty finished second at 51.96.
400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Westminster Christian’s relay team bettered Friday’s prelim time by 16 seconds to win the event Saturday with a 1A/5A record time of 3:39.10. The team consisted of Rebekah Hamilton, Amanda Dowling, Lauren McAdams and Eboni McCarty. St. John Paul II Catholic’s relay team finished second with a 3:42.94 time – just short of their prelim-winning 3:42.31 mark that set a short-lived state record on Friday.  

58th AHSAA Swimming & Diving Championships Underway at Auburn Pruitt Wins AHSAA Diving Title for 4th Time

AUBURN – Opelika High School senior Conner Pruitt posted a 510.95 score in the finals Friday afternoon to win the AHSAA State Diving Championship for Class 6A/7A for the fourth year in a row.
    Pruitt fell just short of the AHSAA state-meet record (532.90) he set last year in the 1-meter competition, but still finished 119.45 points ahead of runner-up Zachael El-Fallah of Spain Park. The Jaguars junior scored 391.50 to edge Grissom’s James Hughes for second place.
    The 58th annual AHSAA State Swimming & Diving Championships got underway Friday at Auburn University’s James E. Martin Aquatics Center with diving semifinals and finals. Swimming event prelims were scheduled for Friday night. The swimming finals will get underway Saturday at 2 p.m. All finals will be live-streamed by the NFHS Network Saturday with veteran announcer Jerry Young handling the commentary. The link for NFHS Network subscribers is: http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/ahsaa/d1dabc183c
    None subscribers can sign up by registering at www.nfhsnetwork.com
    Madison Academy junior Taylor Young won the Class 1A/5A boys’ diving competition for the second year in a row Friday with a 369.85 score. Dominic Bechen, a sophomore at St. John Paul II Catholic, finished second at 244.65.
    In the girls’ competition, Auburn junior Ava Talorico edged defending state champion Emilie Hunter of Daphne by 401.25 to 400.05 to capture the Class 6A/7A 1-meter diving title Friday. Hunter, a junior, improved her winning score from 2016 by 94 points but it wasn’t enough to hold off Talorico. Finishing third was Huntsville’s Julie Keller (365.95).
    Eighth grader Blakeslee Elliott of UMS-Wright posted a 307.80 score to win the Class 1A/5A competition. She also won as a seventh grader in 2016 with an almost identical score (306.25). Freshman Lexi Cubitt of Cottage Hill Christian finished second at 272.75 and Elliott’s UMS teammate Tori Waters, a seventh grader, was third with a 252.05 point total.
    Huntsville’s boys and Auburn’s girls are defending 6A/7A state champions while St. Paul’s Episopal and Westminster Christian are the defending 1A/5A state champs.

AHSAA 58th annual Swimming & Diving Championships
At James E. Martin Aquatics Center, Auburn University

Friday’s Diving Results
Class 1A/5A
Top 4
1. Taylor Young, Madison Academy                       369.85
2. Dominic Bechen, St. John Paul II Catholic         244.65
3. David Clary, Randolph                                         220.85
4. Ross Cummings, St. Paul’s Episcopal                 207.20

Class 6A/7A
Top 5
1. Conner Pruitt, Opelika                                        510.95
2. Zachiary El-Fallah, Spain Park                             391.95
3. James Hughes, Grissom                                      387.10
4. Alex Benzek, James Clemens                              312.00
5. Hampton Jarres, Huntsville                                304.75

Class 1A/5A
1. Blakeslee Elliott, UMS-Wright                            307.80
2. Lexi Cubitt, Cottage Hill Christian                      272.75
3. Tori Waters, UMS-Wright                                   252.05
4. Maddie Guilbert, St. John Paul II Catholic         237.90
5. Olivia Brookins, Westminster-Oak Mtn             232.50

Class 6A/7A
1. Ava Talorico, Auburn                                           401.25
2. Emilie Hunter, Daphne                                        400.05
3. Julia Keller, Huntsville                                         365.95
4. Cameron Wilson, Davidson                                336.95
5. Olivia Foster, Saraland                                        331.60