Teams Set For 2017 Champions Challenge At Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl Aug. 24-25

      MONTGOMERY, AL – Four teams have been selected for the 12th annual AHSAA Champions Challenge Football Classic Aug. 24-25 at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.
      The 2016 Champions Challenge, which will kick off the 2017 prep football season, will feature one game at 7 p.m., each night. Defending 1A state champion Maplesville and defending 2A state champion Fyffe will meet in the small-school game on Thursday. Hewitt-Trussville and Pell City will play in the large-school game Friday.
     The pairings were announced Tuesday by Alvin Briggs, Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), the AHSAA’s coaching organization, which hosts the event each year.
      “We are very excited about the two games we have lined up,” Briggs said. “The Fyffe versus Mapleville game pits two schools that were undefeated last season while the big-school game is a clash between two of the state’s up-and-coming programs. Each have storied histories and strong communities that love high school football. We thank the City of Montgomery for all they do to make these games possible each year.”
     Both games will be televised live over the Raycom Network in Alabama with WSFA TV 12 as the anchor station. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast the games live over its statewide radio network.
     Fyffe (15-0), coached by Paul Benefield, beat Aliceville 28-0 in the 2016 Class 2A finals at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It was the Red Devils’ second state championship in the last three years.   Fyffe outscored opponents 700-113 with the championship game win the Red Devils’ sixth shutout of the season.
    Coach Brent Hubbert’s Maplesville Red Devils (14-0) beat Pickens County 40-12 last December to claim Maplesville’s third straight Class 1A state title and extended Maplesville’s current winning streak to 23 in a row. His team outscored opponents 683-101 in 14 games last season.
     Pell City (6-5) reached the Class 6A state playoffs in Coach Keith Etheredge’s first season at the helm in 2016. He moved to Pell City from Leeds where he served as head coach for 10 seasons compiling a 113-39 record and four state championships. Etheredge’s teams have been known for their explosive offenses and smothering defenses.
    Floyd finished his third season at Hewitt-Trussville leading the Huskies (11-1) to a perfect 10-0 regular season record for the first time in the school’s 92-year football history.  Hewitt-Trussville also won the Class 7A, Region 8 title and outscored opponents 552-289 on the year.
   Floyd came to Trussville from Shiloh Christian (Ark.) where he led the school to a 99-21 record over 10 seasons with four state titles in five trips to the Arkansas state high school finals.
    The former prep quarterback’s high school coach was current Auburn University Coach Gus Malzahn.
     Benefield has s 255-52 career record including 210-41 at Fyffe. Hubbert is 143-23 at Maplesville and 160-38 overall.  Ethredge is 113-39 in his 11-year career (107-34 at Leeds) and Floyd is 121-33 overall and 22-12 at Hewitt over the last three seasons.
    Andalusia beat Brooks 34-13, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa downed Demopolis 42-7 and Hoover topped Central-Phenix City 23-7 in last year’s Champions’ Challenge.

Piedmont’s Steve Smith Named Alabama All-Star Head Coach for 2017 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game

    MONTGOMERY – Piedmont High School head football coach Steve Smith will be the head coach for the Alabama All-Star football squad for the 31st annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game next December.  The game will be played at Hattiesburg on the University of Southern Mississippi campus for just the second time in the game’s storied history.
    AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese made the announcement at the District 6 meeting Monday night held at Jacksonville State University’s Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium.
    Smith replaces former Opelika High School Coach Brian Blackmon, who stepped down as head coach for the 2017 game after resigning at Opelika and accepting a position with Auburn University’s athletic department as a football analyst last month. Blackmon was announced as head coach in late January.
     “I am very honored and humbled,” Smith said. “I really enjoyed my two times in the game as an assistant coach. I am looking forward to this opportunity.”
     Smith served as an assistant coach in last year’s game, a 25-14 win over Mississippi at Cramton Bowl and in the 2009 all-star game played at Mobile. Alabama holds a 22-8 edge in the series which began in 1988. However, Mississippi is 1-0 in games played in Mississippi. The All-Star Classic between the two states started a home-and-home rotation in 2015. The first 28 games were played in Alabama.
      UMS-Wright’s Terry Curtis was Alabama head coach in 2016. The 2017 game is set for Saturday, Dec. 16.
    Smith, was an All-State quarterback graduating in 1987 from Cherokee County High School. He played at Jacksonville State University from 1988-91 and served as a graduate assistant coach on JSU’s 1992 national championship team.  He became the head coach at Cedar Bluff High School in 1995 and compiled an 85-45 record over the next 11 seasons. He moved to Piedmont in 2006. His teams won 3A state championships in 2009, 2015 and 2016 — finishing last season with a 25-game winning streak, the longest current football winning streak in the AHSAA.
     His Piedmont teams have compiled a 123-23 record overall, including 28-8 in 11 playoff appearances and 71-7 in region games. His teams have gone undefeated or suffered just one loss in region play every season since 2007.
    He will be coaching in his third Alabama-Mississippi all-star game. He first coached in 2009 and again last year.
    “Coach Smith is one of our state’s most outstanding head coaches,” said Alvin Briggs, Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
     The rest of the Alabama All-Star staff for next December’s game will be announced in the near future, Briggs said. The AHSADCA, in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) administers the all-star game each year.



North-South Coaches Named
     Briggs announced last month the head coaches for the 58th annual North-South All-Star Football Game in February.  Parker High School’s Andre Robinson will coach the North squad and G.W. Long’s Scott Horne will serve as head coach for the South.  The North won last July 14-0 in a game called due to inclement weather in the second quarter. The game is played annually during the AHSAA’s Summer Conference and AHSADCA All-Star Sports Week. Other all-star games scheduled for the 2017 All-Star Week are baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ basketball and volleyball.
    Robinson begins his 12th year as a head coach next season. He owns a 64-55 career record with one year at Carver-Birmingham and 10 at Parker. He has served two stints at Parker, going 39-37 in seven seasons before moving to the college ranks, then returned to the Class 6A Thundering Herd in 2014 and has gone 22-11 the last three seasons.  Horne has been G.W. Long’s head coach for the past eight seasons. His 74-20 head-coaching record includes a 64-7 overall slate this decade (2011-16) including a 39-2 region record. His last three teams have gone 35-3 with two straight trips to the Class 2A semifinals.

New Blocking, Kicking Rules Address Risk Minimization in High School Football

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 22, 2017) — New rules on blindside blocking are the most recent steps taken by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee in minimizing the risks associated with the sport.

The establishment of a new definition of a blindside block in Rule 2-3-10 and the addition of Rule 9-4-3n prohibiting a blindside block were two of 11 rules changes recommended by the NFHS Football Rules Committee at its January 20-22 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“The NFHS Football Rules Committee’s actions this year once again addressed risk minimization, officiating, competitive balance and game administration,” said Bob Colgate, director of sports and sports medicine at the NFHS and staff liaison for football.

The definition of a blindside block established by the committee is “a block against an opponent other than the runner, who does not see the blocker approaching,” and now results in a 15-yard penalty.

The committee stated that the blindside block “involves contact by a blocker against an opponent who, because of physical positioning and focus of concentration, is vulnerable to injury. Unless initiated with open hands, it is a foul for excessive and unnecessary contact when the block is forceful and outside of the free-blocking zone.”

“As has been the case for many years, the NFHS Football Rules Committee continued to place their main emphasis on risk minimization,” said Todd Tharp, chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and assistant director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association. “With this new definition of a blindside block and the penalty to be assessed, the committee stresses the importance of proper coaching techniques under the rules and accurate enforcement by the game officials.”

Another significant risk-minimization change was elimination of a pop-up kick in new Rule 6-1-11. A new definition of a pop-up kick in Rule 2-24-10 is defined as “a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee.”

The committee implemented this change in an effort to reduce risk of injury due to the increased use of the pop-up kick on onside kickoffs. Such kicks will be penalized as a dead-ball free-kick infraction, as noted with new Rule 6-1-11 PENALTY.

The NFHS Football Rules Committee also expanded Rule 2-32-16 regarding a defenseless player by adding specific examples of a defenseless player. Those examples include, but are not limited to:

a)      A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass;

b)      A receiver attempting to catch a pass who has not had time to clearly become a runner;

c)      The intended receiver of a pass in the action during and immediately following an interception or potential interception;

d)      A runner already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress has been stopped;

e)      A kickoff or punt returner attempting to catch or recover a kick, or one who has completed a catch or recovery and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier;

f)       A player on the ground including a ball carrier who has obviously given himself up and is sliding feet-first;

g)      A player obviously out of the play or not in the immediate vicinity of the runner; and

h)      A player who received a blindside block with forceful contact not initiated with open hands.

A great deal of time was spent by the committee creating specific criteria to define exactly what a defenseless player is,” Tharp said. “Coaches can use these examples to focus on the proper mechanics of blocking and tackling, and game officials now are able to use this expanded definition to focus on continued risk minimization of the players.”

Changes to Rule 7-1-6 expand on the situations required for encroachment to occur after the ready-for-play and after the snapper has placed his hand(s) on the ball. The rule previously stated that encroachment occurred if “any other player breaks the plane of the neutral zone.” In addition, now defensive players are restricted from contacting the ball prior to the end of the snap or making contact with the snapper’s hand(s) or arm(s) until the snapper has released the ball.

The remaining changes approved by the NFHS Football Rules Committee touched on a new ball specification (1-3-1h), uniforms [(1-5-1b(3)], game officials (1-5-4), post-scrimmage kick fouls (2-16-2h), penalty time clock management (3-4-7), prosthetic limbs (4-2-2l) and forward-pass interference (7-5-10), in which the previous foul for non-contact face guarding was eliminated as forward-pass interference.

Regarding the uniform change in Rule 1-5-1b(3), effective with the 2021 season, “the jerseys of the home team shall be a dark color that clearly contrasts to white.”

“The committee revised the rule to provide schools and manufacturers more clarification regarding the game’s current trend of utilizing lighter gray shades,” Colgate said. “The requirement for teams to wear contrasting colors to white is not a new rule, and it is the committee’s expectation that this new clarification will allow changes to be made during normal replacement cycles.”

A complete listing of all rules changes will be available soon on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “Football.”

According to the 2015-16 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, football is the most popular sport for boys at the high school level with 1,083,308 participants in 11-player football. Another combined 28,943 boys participated in 6-, 8- and 9-player football. In addition, 2,140 girls participated in one of the four football offerings during the 2015 season.

Beauregard Running Back La’Damian Webb Named Mr. Football by the Alabama Sports Writers Association

     MONTGOMERY – Beauregard’s La’Damian Webb was named the 35th recipient of
the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Mr. Football Award on Wednesday at
the ASWA’s annual Player of the Year Awards luncheon, presented by the
Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association. The annual
luncheon was held at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in
     Webb, a 5-foot-8, 184-pound junior running back, added his name to the
AHSAA record books this season, setting a single-season touchdown record
with 47, and rushed for the second-highest season yardage total in AHSAA history
with 3,242 yards. In two years, Webb has rushed for 74 touchdowns and 5,017 yards
     He earned MVP honors in the Super 7 Class 5A championship game this past season with a record performance: 51 carries, 359 yards rushing and five touchdowns in 33-13 victory over Wenonah. In his two seasons as a starter for Coach Rob Carter’s Hornets, the team has gone 24-2.
     The selection was made by the ASWA Prep Committee, a panel of ASWA member sportswriters who cover high school athletics. Webb finished with 147 points and three first-place votes. Park Crossing wide receiver Malik Cunningham had 132 points and one first place vote, Spanish Fort linebacker Thomas Johnston was third with 116 points, Blount quarterback Kadarius Toney and James Clemens defensive end LaBryan Ray tied for fourth with 113 point, and Maplesville running back Terence Dunlap was sixth with 109. In all, a
record eight finalists received first-place votes from the prep committee
     Webb was named the ASWA Class 5A Back of the Year and was chosen to the
group’s Super 12 team. He is also the first junior to win the Mr. Football
award in its history.
     In winning the Mr. Football, Webb becomes the third running back to win the
award in the last four years and fourth in the last six, joining T.J. Yeldon of Daphne in 2011, Roc Thomas of Oxford in 2013 and Kerryon Johnson of Madison Academy in 2015.
    A total of 48 finalists, three backs and three linemen in each classification with a Back of the Year and Lineman of the Year selected. The individual class players of the year were:
Class 7A: Henry Ruggs III, Lee-Montgomery (Back); LaBryan Ray, James Clemens (Lineman).
Class 6A: Kadarius Toney, Blount (Back); Thomas Johnston, Spanish Fort (Lineman).
Class 5A: La’Damian Webb, Beauregard (Back); Ryan Johnston, St. Paul’s Episcopal (Lineman).
Class 4A: Reed Blankenship, West Limestone (Back); Sterling Jones, Saint James (Lineman).
Class 3A: Taylor Hayes, Piedmont (Back); Mason Langley, Piedmont (Lineman).
Class 2A: JaTarvious Whitlow, LaFayette (Back); Tyler Wilhelm, Fyffe (Lineman).
Class 1A: Terence Dunlap, Maplesville (Back); Brandon Bates, Linden (Lineman).
AISA: Malik Lyons, Chambers Academy (Back); Jakerrius Wyatt, Autauga Academy (Lineman).
    The luncheon was live-streamed by the Prattville High School NFHS Network School Broadcast program. It is archived at www.nfhsnetwork.com and available for viewing.


2016 La’Damian Webb, Beauregard, RB
2015 Tyler Johnston, Spanish Fort, QB
2014 Kerryon Johnson, Madison Academy, RB/WR
2013 Racean “Roc” Thomas, Oxford, RB
2012 Jeremy Johnson, Carver-Montgomery, QB
2011 T.J. Yeldon, Daphne RB
2010 Jamal Golden, Wetumpka, QB
2009 Coty Blanchard, Cherokee County, QB
2008 Clint Moseley, Leroy, QB
2007 Julio Jones, Foley, WR
2006 Larry Smith, Prattville, QB
2005 Andre Smith, Huffman, OL
2004 Jarod Bryant, Hoover, QB
2003 Chris Nickson, Pike County, QB
2002 JaMarcus Russell, Williamson, QB
2001 Brandon Cox, Hewitt-Trussville
2000 Carnell Williams, Etowah
1999 Cory Whisenant, Springville, RB
1998 DeMarco McNeil, Blount, DL
1997 Mac Campbell, Alexandria, RB
1996 Antoneyo Williams, Central-Tuscaloosa, RB
1995 Gorman Thornton, Jeff Davis, TE/DE
1994 Dawud Rasheed, Shades Valley, RB
1993 Thomas Banks, West Jefferson, RB
1992 Freddie Kitchens, Etowah, QB
1991 Robert Davis, Homewood, RB
1990 David Palmer, Jackson-Olin, RB/QB
1989 Steven Coleman, Pike County, RB
1988 Darrell Williams, Vigor, RB
1987 Robert Jones, Parker, RB
1986 Larry Ware, Lee-Montgomery, RB
1985 Pierre Goode, Hazlewood, RB
1984 Roderick Green, Gardendale, WR
1983 Freddie Weygand, Emma Sansom, WR
1982 Tommy Compton, Vigor, QB