Maplesville Beats Fyffe 20-7 in Champions Challenge Battle at Cramton Bowl

  MONTGOMERY --  Maplesville’s Nate Watson struck for big plays on three of his four first-half touches as the defending Class 1A state champs downed Class 2A defending state bchampion Fyffe 20-7 in the first game of the 2017 Champions Challenge season-opening football series at Cramton Bowl Thursday night.
    The AHSAA’s  12th annual Champions Challenge, hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), will conclude Friday night with Class 7A Hewitt-Trussville taking on Class 6A Pell City in the large-school game at Cramton Bowl at 7 p.m. Raycom Media is televising the contest live over its stations in Alabama. Check out www.pathtotheplayoffs.com  for local TV information. The AHSAA Radio Network is also broadcasting the contest over the internet and its network of radio affiliates.
     Both teams rolled into the preseason contest with winning streaks of 23 and 15 games respectively after winning state titles at the AHSAA 2016 Super 7  State Championships at Auburn last December. The game will count on neither team’s record, however, since it was scheduled as a jamboree contest.
   Watson, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior already verbally committed to Mississippi State, scored on the first play of the first and second quarters, taking the opening kickoff at his own 22-yard line and speeding untouched up the middle for a 78-yard score to start the game. He hauled in a 57-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Thomas Schoener on the first play of the second quarter for a 14-0 Red Devils lead. Late in the second period, he got open once again and raced 73 yards with a pass thrown by freshman quarterback Jackson Abbott  for his third TD of the game.
    In between Watson’s spectacular plays Fyffe kept the ball for almost 15 minutes but saw an untimely penalty and some big defensive plays by Coach Brent Hubbert’s defense to keep them from establishing any real momentum.
    Fyffe kept the ball for 14:51 of the first half to Maplesville’s 9:09. However, the 1A team had 146 yards passing and 219 total yards on 20 plays. Fyffe’s 2A Red Devils had 89 total yards – 82 rushing and 7 yards passing.
    Coach Paul Benefield’s team from DeKalb County cut the lead to 20-7 in the third period when Brody Dalton made an exceptional catch of Payton Stoner’s 24-yard pass for the TD with 6:51 left in the third period. Both teams played their reserves the rest of the game.
    Maplesville had 323 total yards on the night. Watson finished the game with 131 yards receiving on his two catches, had 78 yards on kick returns and seven yards rushing for 216 total yards. Abbott was 4-of-6 passing for 79 yards and a TD, and Schoener was 3-of-5 for 65 yards and a TD – all in the first half. Ryan Morrow was the game’s leading rusher with 100 yards on 15 carries, and Abbott had 32 on seven rushes.
    Fyffe rushed for 207 yards on 44 attempts and passed for 31 for 238 total yards. Payton Anderson and Cage Cochran each rushed for 34 yards on 12 and 4 carries, respectively.  Dalton’s 24-yard catch led the receivers.
    Stoner had an interception he returned for 31 yards on defense for Fyffe.  Dalton had seven tackles and Luke Martin had six. Maplesville linebacker Tristen Thetford had 10 tackles and teammates Jakavian McKenzie and Noah Walls had six stops. Latrell Wilson also returned an interception 25 yards.

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

      MONTGOMERY – Four high schools, including two defending state champions,  will officially kick off the 2017 AHSAA high school football season Thursday and Friday at Cramton Bowl in the 12th annual Champions Challenge football classic hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
       The head coaches and selected players gathered at the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Tuesday for the Champions Challenge press conference. Media on hand came in early for the annual Media Day. Montgomery Department of Leisure Services Director Scott Miller was on hand to officially welcome the teams and media to the city. Enterprise High School volleyball coach Janie Wiggins and Auburn High School cross country/track coach Dan Norton were also on hand to discuss the start of those two fall sports as well.  
       Three-time defending Class 1A state champion Maplesville (14-0) and defending 2A state champion (15-0) Fyffe will meet in the small-school game Thursday night at 7 p.m. Class 7A Hewitt-Trussville (11-1) and Class 6A Pell City (6-5) will play in the large-school game Friday night at 7.
     Both games will be televised live across the start by Raycom Media. WVUA Sports Director Gary Harris will handle the play-by-play and former University of Alabama standout Mike Johnson will be the color commentator. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast the games live over its statewide radio network.
    Benefield, 256-52 overall with 210 wins at his alma mater, saw his team record just four turnovers (four fumbles) in last season’s 15-0 season. He said his team is looking forward to the trip from DeKalb County. “I’ve been coaching 36 years and we’ve had a lot of ups and downs,” said Benefield. “I’ve never felt that I had to work a day in my life since I’ve been coaching.”
    He predicts the challenge will be difficult.
      Coach Brent Hubbert’s Maplesville team met Fyffe last year in a jamboree game to start the season with the contest ending in a 7-7 tie. His team lost a solid senior class but has another one returning, he said.
    “Each year we go through an identity change,” said Hubbert. “This group is growing. We’ve had a summer of growth as individuals. We aim to help make these young men better human beings off the field and, we (also) want to teach them to prepare for adversity.”
      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 capturing 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 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.
    “Winning championships are great,” said Etheredge. “I’ve won four (at Leeds) and every one was very, very special to me. But coaching and teaching is about building relationships. That’s the most important part of coaching. If I can touch one life as a coach, I feel I’ve done my job. But, I want to do a lot more.”
     Floyd said he also understands there is much, much more to coaching than just X’s and O’s.
    “I’m a younger coach, but I know there’s so much more about this game than just playing on the football field,” he said, “There’s nothing more fulfilling as a coach than a few years down the line getting messages from those kids you coached. They will tell you, ‘Coach, we remember things you said when you didn’t even know we were listening.’”
    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.

AHSAA Mourns Death of Boaz High School Coach Eric Whaley


     The AHSAA was saddened to learn of the death of Boaz High School Coach Eric Whaley. Whaley, who resigned as head football coach last winter, died Sunday after battling cancer.  Whaley, 39, is survived by his wife Alison, children Addie Grace and Tyler.
     “He fought a courageous battle that has inspired us all,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “I experienced first-hand the impact Coach Whaley has made to those around him through his leadership as a coach and teacher. He always strived to use the opportunity to teach his players the important life lessons that can be learned from playing a high school sport as well as living his life based on his strong faith and Christian principles.
    “He has meant so much to the students, teachers and children of Boaz because of the example of his daily walk.  On behalf of the AHSAA, I offer our most sincere condolences to his family and the entire Boaz community."
      A celebration of life service will be held, Tuesday, August 15 at 7 p.m. at Boaz High School’s gymnasium. The family will receive friends from 4 until 7 prior to the service. The Funeral service will be Wednesday at 2 p.m., at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Boaz with visitation from noon until 2. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery.
     In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Eric Whaley Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Snead State Community College.


Boaz Coach Eric Whaley in ICU

   The AHSAA is asking its member school family to join us in praying for Boaz High School Coach Eric Whaley who is currently in ICU at a Birmingham hospital in grave condition battling an illness.
    The AHSAA appreciates the contributions of our men and women like Coach Whaley who make a difference in the lives of so many entrusted to them. As a family, our AHSAA member schools are quick to support their colleagues in times of need.
    Thank you for keeping Coach Whaley and his family in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.

Record $2 Million in Revenue Sharing for Schools Approved by AHSAA Central Board of Control

     MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control approved returning a record $2 million to its member schools under its Revenue Sharing Plan. The action was taken Wednesday at its annual summer meeting in Montgomery.
        The AHSAA Legislative Council also met Wednesday.
        The Revenue Sharing Plan, approved first by the Central Board in 2009, has returned $11.8 million to its member schools over the last seven years. The formula for the distribution of funds includes a differential between classifications and the number of sports played by non-football-playing schools. The plan returns excess funds back to the schools when the AHSAA has at least one year’s working capital in reserve.
         The Central Board of Control also approved waiving membership dues for member schools for the 25th straight year – a cost savings of more than $83,000 in 2016-17 and more than $2 million in savings to our member schools since 1992.
         “Returning $2.0 million to our schools through our revenue-sharing plan is certainly important to the financial well-being of our schools,” AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “We are proud to have now returned almost $14 million to our schools through the Revenue Sharing Plan and the waiving of school dues. I thank our Central Board for its strong leadership, especially the Central Board Finance Committee, and thank our valued corporate partners for their commitment to our member schools, our student-athletes and our educational based programs.”
        AHSAA Assistant Director Denise Ainsworth previewed the AHSAA Five-Year Strategic Plan for 2017-22 and discussed the five major goals the strategic plan – and its theme: “Building Leaders through Athletics.”
Direct Communications, a public relations group, was approved to be hired to assist the AHSAA in promoting the association goals and mission.
        New president John Hardin, who served as vice president the last two years, was also welcomed to his new position. Hardin is principal at Hackleburg High School in District 7. He replaced Mike Welsh, Spring Garden principal and president in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
        The Board also approved recommendations by the AHSAA’s Sports Committees and Competition, including an item by the Baseball Committee that games added or deleted from a school’s schedule after the area play begins will NOT count toward tie-breaker issues. The board also approved the committee’s recommendation to eliminate the coin toss in the “if needed” game three in all rounds of the state playoffs except the finals. The home team will be the home team for the game in all preliminary rounds. A recommendation was approved that had was submitted by the Basketball Committee to allow the AHSAA to set each quadrant for each class after sub-regional play results are determined. This would allow a school that qualifies boys and girls for the regional tournament to have the games scheduled back to back to avoid long delays between the two.
    The Central Board reviewed and approved 2017-18 publications, including the AHSAA Handbook and 2017-18 AHSAA Sports Book. The Legislative Council also met and approved the AHSAA publications Wednesday afternoon and heard a review of the Central Board’s action.

In other Central Board action:

– Approved the financial reports for the spring championships in soccer, softball, baseball and track.

– Approved the 2017-18 budgets for the AHSAA and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the 2016-17 audits for each group.

-- Approved a restitution plan for Washington County High School.

-- Approved the Scorebird Program and Dragon Fly document uploading program being made available to member schools in the coming school year.

-- Was updated about the AHSAA insurance coverages and School Audit Program.

Six Honored with Distinguished Service Awards AHSAA Closes Summer Conference With Officials’ Awards Luncheon

     MONTGOMERY – Six officials with a combined 173 years of officiating experience received the Greg Brewer Distinguished Service Award at Saturday’s AHSAA Officials Awards Luncheon at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. Receiving the AHSAA’s highest officiating honor were Larry Galloway (38 years) of Hartford; Don Hudson (37 years) of Oxford); Bill Young (35 years) of Dadeville; Jimmy Isbell (34 years) of Tuscumbia; Gwyn Morgan (34 years) of Moulton; and Gary Knight (32 years) Dothan.
    Longtime contest official, district director and volunteer Gary McGriff of Holly Pond was also recognized McGriff received the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) National Contributor Award.
    He has been a visionary, always providing opportunities for officials to grow technologically, he continues to be a state leader with regard to communication, not only between officials, but most importantly our Association.  According to Steve Savarese, Executive Director of the AHSAA, “The greatest compliment I could provide Gary is to describe Gary as a servant, dedicating his life to serve the AHSAA through officiating.” 
   More than 370 attended the luncheon that recognized all contest officials who officiated in state championship events in 2016-17 as district and state officials of the year. Wright Waters, former Sun Belt Conference Commissioner who became the first executive director of the Football Bowl Association, was the keynote speaker at the luncheon that officially closed the 2017 AHSAA Summer Conference and Coaching School.
    State Officials of the Year: Selected AHSAA State Officials of the year in their respective sports were: Doug Baxter of Montgomery (Baseball); Katrina Evans of Mobile (Basketball); Pete Gonzalez Montgomery (Soccer); Jeff Bridges of Dothan (Softball); Keith Wilemon of Hartselle (Track); Jim Kirkpatrick of Huntsville (Volleyball); and Justin Miller of Decatur  (Wrestling).
   ASOF Scholarship Recipients: The Alabama Sports Officials Foundation also presented xx scholarships to children of officials in honor of the dedication and sacrifice families make to support the service of the state’s contest officials. To be eligible, the student must be planning attend a post-secondary school in Alabama.
    Those selected for the grants were: Cora Addison Bryan, Troy; Michael Evan Shaddix, Fort Payne; Andrew David Hester, Decatur; Matthew William Hrabovsky, Daphne; Tessa Faith Ivey, Nauvoo; Moriah Lee Brundidge, Brewton; Carly Alana Westmoreland, Addison; Abigail Faye Howard, Oxford; and Patrick Joseph Callahan, Hoover.




AHSAA District Officials of the Year

East Central:
Larry Stubbs, Jacksonvillle
North Central: Raymond Crawford, Dora
Northeast: Bobby Scheppler, Huntsville
Loyd Potter, Decatur

South Central: Doug Baxter, Montgomery
Brian Cross, Andalusia
Tim Naber, Theodore
West Central:
Danny Matherson, Moundville


East Central:
Rusty Burroughs, Jacksonville
North Central: Scott Richards, Homewood
Northeast: Marvin Wesley, New Market
Brandon Oaks, Hartselle

South Central: Bobby Tindal, Auburn
Reginald Franklin, Dothan
Katrina Evans, Mobile
West Central: James Sewell, Linden


East Central:
Johnny Brothers, Southside-Gadsden
North Central: Kevin Sutton, Birmingham
Northeast: Willis Jackson, Harvest
Gene Dickinson, Decatur

South Central: Frank Parsons, Montgomery
Ricky Morgan, Geneva
Ken Atkins, Demopolis
West Central: Fred Cody, Northport

East Central:
Charles Stanley, Guntersville
North Central: John David Nicholson, Vestavia Hills
Northwest: “Ed” Tate Wallace, Hartselle

South Central: Pete Gonzalez, Montgomery
Ben Davis, Andalusia
Ryan Campbell, Spanish Fort

East Central:
Nick Higdon, Albertville
North Central: Tessa Ivey, Nauvoo
Northeast: Aaron Golden, Madison

Northwest: Scottie Nichols, Sheffield
South Central:
Eric Morris, Montgomery
Jeff Bridges, Dothan
Tim Porter, Mobile
West Central: Carolyn Roshell, Holt

East Central:
Earl Lewis, Sylacauga
North Central: Stan Blakemore, Vestavia Hills
Northeast: Jeff Bradshaw, Madison

Northwest: Keith Wilemon, Hartselle
Darrell Houston, Daphne
Sheila Crenshaw, Mobile,

East Central:
Anthony Dupree, Leesburg
North Central: Anissa Smith, Birmingham
Northeast: Jim Kirkpatrick, Huntsville

Northwest: Walter Young, Moulton
South Central:
Walter Crosby, Millbrook
Michael Clayton, Dothan
Dwight Charley, Butler
West Central: Chris Cummings, Jasper

East Central:
Brent Helms, Southside
North Central: Mark Snider, Trussville
Northeast: Joe Stephenson, Union Grove

South Central: Justin Miller, Decatur
Rob Hazenwinkel, Pensacola, FL

Seven Receive “Making A Difference” Awards At AHSAA 2017 Coaches’ Awards Banquet

MONTGOMERY – Seven individuals were recognized Friday night at the AHSAA’s 21st annual Coaches’ Awards Banquet as recipients of the prestigious “Making A Difference” Award as the 2017 AHSAA Summer Conference concluded at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
    The week-long conference, which attracted approximately 5,000 administrators, coaches and other support personnel from AHSAA member schools to Montgomery, was hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA). It included 10 North-South all-star competitions during the week – for the sports of baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ cross country, volleyball and football. The North beat the South 14-13 in the 58th playing of the North-South football all-star game to close out all-star play Thursday night.
    Friday’s awards banquet recognized a total of 112 state championship coaches who led teams to state titles in the AHSAA’s championship programs in 2016-17 as well as honoring several others for outstanding service or accomplishment.  Among them was Jim Tate of St. Paul’s Episcopal High School in Mobile. Tate, who has been enshrined into the Alabama High School Hall of Fame and National High School Hall of Fame, directed the Saints to the Class 5A state girls’ cross country and Class 4A/5A girls’ state indoor track titles  in 2016-17 to become the first head coach in AHSAA history to capture 100 state crowns. Since 1983, he has led St. Paul’s track and cross country teams to 101 titles overall in his legendary career. His teams have also recorded 51 runner-up finishes.
    Jack Doss also became the first boys’ basketball coach in the AHSAA to capture 10 state titles with Mae Jemison winning the 5A state championship last March at the BJCC. Doss has won state championships at four different schools since 1981. He directed Butler to five championships, Hayes and J.O. Johnson to two each.
    Alabama State Senator Jabo Waggoner was the keynote speaker.
   The highlight was the “Making A Difference” Award, however, now in its seventh year. One AHSAA member school coach or administrator was honored in each classification for their contributions to their schools and communities that help change lives in daily in a positive way.
    The recipients were: head football coach Alan Beckett, Winterboro High School (1A); recently retired Associate Superintendent Lamar Brooks, Dale County Schools (2A); principal Bobby Tittle, Ohatchee High School (3A); athletic director Charles McCaleb, Bibb County High School (4A); head football coach Richard Dutton, Lawrence County High School (5A); athletic director Janeice Calhoun, Chelsea High School (6A); head softball coach Alvin Rauls, Buckhorn (7A).
Several other special awards were presented including AHSADCA Athletic Director of the Year presented to McGill-Toolen Catholic AD Bill Griffin. The ADSADCA Past President’s Award was presented to former Opelika football coach Brian Blackmon.
    Swimming Coach Michael Gunner of Bob Jones High School was also recognized as the NFHS National Swimming Coach of the Year.  Student-athletes Hasaan Hawthorne of Pelham High School and RaKavius Chambers of Opelika high School were also recognized at NFHS Section 3 “Spirit of Sport” and “Heart of the Arts” Award recipients. Hawthorne, who had both legs amputated when he was an infant, graduated in 2016 and is now attending college in Idaho. He captured the Class 6A 145-pound state wrestling championship at 38-0 – Section 3 includes the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Chambers, also the recipient of the Watkins Award as the top black student-athlete in the nation, is a Duke University football signee. He was an All-America prep football standout who also shared a passion for the arts – participating in theatre, show choir and symphonic band in high school. He was also selected the 2017 Bryant-Jordan Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the AHSAA.
NFHS Section 3 Coaches of the Year: Six AHSAA coaches were named 2016 NFHS Section 3 Coaches of the Year, including: Stanley Johnson, Lawrence County (girls’ cross country); Meridy Jones, UMS-Wright (girls’ tennis); Brigid Littleton, Vestavia Hills (girls’ golf); Steve Reaves, Winfield (boys’ track & field); and Bobby Wright, Central-Phenix City (boys’ basketball).
NFHS State Coaches of the Year: Fourteen AHSAA coaches were selected 2016 NFHS state coach of the year in their respective sports: Emanuel Bell, Wenonah (girls’ basketball); Gretchen Boykin, Spanish Fort (volleyball); Eddie Brundidge, T.R. Miller (girls’ track & field); Claborn Campbell, Cold Springs (boys’ cross country); Isabella Coffell, Sparkman (girls’ bowling); Jeff Dellinger, Auburn (girls’ swimming); Dan DeMasters, Oak Mountain (boys’ soccer); Susan Farlow, Mountain Brook (boys’ tennis); Stephen Gaydosh, Vestavia Hills (wrestling); Cindy Hawthorne, Brantley (softball); Stephen Hobbs, Vestavia Hills (boys’ bowling); Emory Latta, Providence Christian (boys’ golf); Clifford Pate, St. John Paul II Catholic (girls’ golf); and Steve Smith, Piedmont (football).
AHSADCA Coaches’ Children Scholarship Recipients: Ten students, each a child of an AHSADCA member coach or administrator, also received the AHSADCA’s Coaches’ Children Scholarships. They were: Heaven Rozier, Jackson High School; Alexandria Wiggins, Enterprise High School; Bailey Ryan Price, Chilton County High School; Jessica Norris, LAMP Magnet High School; Bailee Simmons, Elmore County High School; Mary Elizabeth Laatsch, Helena High School; Shelby Hicks, Oxford High School; Reagan MaKinley Smothers, Addison High School; Michael Drew Statom, Deshler High School; and Jadie Burney, Huntsville High School.
Eight Receive al.com Sportsmanship Grants: Eight high schools that attended Friday’s 10th annual Media Group as recipients of a $1,000 al.com Sportsmanship Grant.  Al.com, in support of good sportsmanship, has provided $80,000 over the last 10 years – proving one scholarship to a fine and ejection-free school each from all eight of the AHSAA’s districts.
   The recipients this year were: Blount (District 1); Red Level (District 2); Linden (District 3); Holtville (District 4); Pleasant Grove (District 5); Ranburne (District 6); Hubbertville(District 7); and West Point (District 8).  The schools were selected from the 107 that completed the 2016-17 school fine and ejection free.
   A total of 107 high schools finished the year with no fine or ejection and were recognized at Friday’s luncheon, up from 32 from 2015-16 when 75 reached that goal. Chris Heaps, the head baseball coach at Russellville High School, was the keynote speaker. Russellville, which has won the Class 5A state baseball championship the last three seasons, was one of the schools recognized for its outstanding sportsmanship record of no fines or ejections.
AHSAA Welcomes New Sportsmanship Sponsor: The AHSAA also welcomed a new sponsor for the annual Sportsmanship Banquet Friday, Patterson Properties which produces high school preseason football magazines for Georgia and Alabama.
Herman L. “Bubba” Scott Lifetime Achievement Award: Longtime head football coach Randy Ragsdale was recognized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes with its most prestigious award Thursday at the annual FCA Luncheon. Ragsdale who compiled a 242-86 career record in 28 seasons as head coach at Trinity Presbyterian in Montgomery received the Herman L. “Bubba” Scott Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifetime commitment to serving his faith and serving young people. The award is named in honor of Scott, former AHSAA Executive Director. Scott helped bring FCA to Alabama schools more than 40 years ago. Scott is now deceased.

North Defense Leads Team to 14-13 Win over South in 58th Annual North-South Football Game

   MONTGOMERY – The North All-Star defense came up with the big plays Thursday night en route to a 14-13 football win over the South in the 58th playing of the AHSAA North-South All-Star Football Game at Cramton Bowl.
    The game closed out the 2017 All-Star Sports Week competition with the North sweeping baseball,  boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ cross country, boys’ and girls’ basketball and volleyball while splitting a doubleheader in softball to go 11-1 in contests for the week.
     The victory was the third in a row for the North and closed the South’s edge in the series to 30-26-2. The South’s last win came in 2014 in a 20-12 win. The North won the first game played in 1948 at Tuscaloosa, 33-0.
    The North struck first Thursday night when Connor Landers scooped up a South fumble and rambled 46 yards into the end zone for a touchdown at 7:57 in the first quarter. The fumble was caused by North linebacker Will Evans of Haleyville, a University of North Alabama signee, when he jarred the ball loose from South receiver Maurice Young of Wetumpka.  Evans finished with 11 tackles and was named the North MVP.
    The South responded quickly, marching 67 yards on seven plays and scored when Jeff Davis receiver Tyler Wesley hauled in a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chase Warren of Leroy and tied the game at 7-7 on C.J. Roberts’ extra point kick with 5:08 left in the quarter.
    Evans blocked a South punt early in the second period and recovered at the South 2 to set up the North’s final TD. After a loss back to the 11, Trevor Oakes of Hartselle connected with Florence receiver Jakobi Byrd two plays later for a 6-yard TD pass. Cullman place-kicker Tristian Skinner booted the all-important extra point to give the North a 14-7 lead with 7:35 left in the half.
    The South defense, which also played well all night, provided the big play late in the third quarter when Clifton Robbins of Dothan sacked North quarterback Koy Chapman of Gordo for a six-yard loss at the South 41 and caused a fumble that was recovered by South teammate Taryon Edwards of Lee-Montgomery.
     It took just five plays for the South to reach the end zone – the TD coming on a 31-yard pass from Warren to Wesley with 8:12 left in the fourth period. South head coach Scott Horne of G.W. Long, who had both his team’s place-kickers unavailable due to injuries, elected to go for two but the play failed and the South trailed 14-13.
      The North drove to the South 3 later in the period but turned the ball over on a fumble forced by Enterprise linebacker Keonte White’s tackle of Scottsboro running back Dekarlos Billingsley near the goal line.
    The South couldn’t mount another threat, however.
    The North, coached by Parker’s Andre Robinson, finished with only seven first downs, 69 yards rushing and 41 passing for 110 yards. The South had 16 first downs, 68 yards rushing and 175 passing for 243 yards.
     Billingsley led all rushers with 64 yards on 14 carries for the North. Charles Blackmon of Linden had 35 yards on eight carries and Roberts of Carroll-Ozark had 29 on six carries for the South. Warren was 10-of-14 passing for 124 yards and two TDs for the South and Wesley, the South MVP, had four catches for 66 yards and two scores. T.R. Miller quarterback Caleb Winton was 5-of-13 passing for 51 yards. Oakes and Chapman combined to complete six passes for 41 yards.
     Josh Hatcher of Handley had 13 tackles for the North and Evans had 11. White had seven to lead the South.

North Girls Take North-South All-Star Volleyball Match 3-0 over South at AUM Basketball Complex Thursday

   MONTGOMERY – The North All-Stars needed only 65 minutes to post a 3-0 win over the South Thursday afternoon in the AHSAA North-South girls’ volleyball match held at Auburn-Montgomery’s Basketball Complex.
   The volleyball match and the 58th annual North-South football all-star game Thursday closes out the 2017 All-Star Sports Week competition for the 21st annual Summer Conference. The football game was still underway Thursday night at Cramton Bowl.
   The Summer Conference concludes Friday for member schools with special mandatory sessions for member school principals, athletic directors and administrators. It will also feature two banquets, the AHSAA Sportsmanship Luncheon at noon which recognizes 107 high schools that were fine and ejection free during the 2016-17 school year, and the Coaches’ Awards Banquet at 6 p.m. Both banquets will be at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. A highlight of the Awards fete will be the presentation of the Making A Difference Award to seven individuals, one coach or administrator from each of the AHSAA’s seven classifications. The individuals were selected for the positive impact they have made in their schools and communities.
    Two student-athletes, Pelham’s Hasaan Hawthorne and Opelika’s RaKavius Chambers, will also be recognized for capturing the NFHS Section 3 “Sprit of Sport” and ”Heart of the Arts” awards. They were selected from a field that included the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
     The AHSAA Officials luncheon, which is set for  11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Renaissance, will close out the week officially. The Summer Conference and All-Star Sports Week has been hosted annually since 1997 by the AHSAA and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
NORTH GIRLS 3, SOUTH GIRLS 0:  Mountain Brook’s Libby Gann had 30 assists, four kills and seven digs to lead the North to the 25-22, 25-16, 25-20 win. The victory improved the North’s record in the series to 14-6.  For her efforts, Gann was named North MVP.
    Karlee Hale of Geraldine and Tierra Porter of Hazel Green had 9 and 8 kills, respectively, on the front line for the North, coached by Coco Tate-Hughes of Hazel Green and Whitney Welch of Alexandria.  Gann also had a team-high three service aces, and Alexis Snow of Danville had 12 digs. Maci Battle of Hazel Green also added nine digs.
    The South, coached by Bridgett Brantley of Opp and Neysa Hernandez of Prattville, was led by South MVP Spanish Fort’s Reilly Vought. She had 14 assists, three kills and six digs. Brantley Rhodes of Bayside Academy had nine kills and four digs, and Caroline Kirkham of Montgomery Academy had five kills.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE AWARD: Seven individuals will be recognized in the Making A Difference Award Class of 2017: Winterboro football coach Alan Beckett (1A); Dale County Schools recently retired associate superintendent Lamar Brooks (2A); Ohatchee principal Bobby Tittle (3A); Bibb County athletic director Charles McCaleb (4A); Lawrence County head football coach Richard Dutton (5A); Chelsea athletic director Janeice Calhoun (6A); and Buckhorn softball coach Alvin Rauls (7A).
   The award, now in its seventh year, was first presented in 2011.
ALABAMA MEDIA GROUP TO PRESENT SEVEN GRANTS: Russellville High School head baseball coach Chris Heaps will be the guest speaker at the 10th annual AHSAA Sportsmanship Luncheon. A total of 107 high schools, up from 75 the previous year, will be recognized as fine and ejection free for 2016-17. Alabama Media Group has selected eight of the schools, one from each district, to receive a $1,000  al.com sportsmanship grant. The schools are: Blount (District 1); Red Level (District 2); Linden (District 3); Holtville (District 4); Pleasant Grove (District 5); Ranburne (District 6); Hubbertville (District 7); and West Point (District 8).
   The $8,000 distributed this year brings the total to $80,000 since 2008 distributed by Alabama Media Group in support of the AHSAA member schools’ commitment to good sportsmanship.
HAWTHORNE, CHAMBERS EXCEL IN AHSAA: Hasaan Hawthorne, a wrestler at Pelham High School, was selected as the 2017 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School “Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). He was one of eight student-athletes to earn the prestigious section award and finished third in the overall balloting nationally.
    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.
     Hawthorne displayed amazing grit and determination rising from a 12-22 start as a seventh grader to finish undefeated at 38-0 and earning MVP honors in Class 6A as a senior while winning the Class 6A state 145-pound state title. While Hawthorne’s accomplishments would be remarkable under any circumstances, they move into the realm of being truly extraordinary when one considers the fact that he had both legs amputated at the knee at age four months.  His inspirational example of courage and tenacity was documented by ESPN Sports and earned him Class 6A Bryant-Jordan Achievement Award recipient in 2016.
     He now wrestles for North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
     RaKavius Chambers of Opelika High School was selected as the 2017 Section 3 recipient of the “National High School “Heart of the Arts” Award by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). He was one of eight student-athletes to earn the prestigious section award and finished second in the overall balloting nationally.
    The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify how the arts and athletics represent the core mission of education-based athletics.
    He received the NFHS Heart of the Arts Award for his balance between his love for sports and the arts.  A leader in all aspects of his life, he helped OHS capture first place in the state high school theatrical competition at Florence – playing the lead role of “God” in the play “Children of Eden.” He was also a member of the OHS Show Choir and Symphonic Band. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman helped the Opelika football team reach the Super 7 Class 6A state finals in 2016 earning All-America and All-State honors while also being named team captain. The Duke University football signee graduated with a 4.33 grade-point average, scored a 32 on his ACT test and ranked second in his graduating class of 248.
    Chambers was also named the recipient of the Bryant-Jordan Foundation’s Larry D. Striplin, Jr., AHSAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year.  The program, named in honor of the late coaches Paul "Bear" Bryant of Alabama and Ralph "Shug" Jordan of Auburn, recognized 52 regional scholar-athlete winners selected for their excellence in athletics and academics and 52 achievement winners chosen for their ability to overcome major obstacles during their high school athletic careers.
     Chambers, who plans to study medicine at Duke University with his goal of becoming a cardiac surgeon, also was the recipient of the Watkins Award, which is awarded annually to the top Afro-American high school student-athlete in the U.S. as selected by the national committee.

  The NFHS Network started a special live-stream series July 19 entitled “30 Plays in 30 Days” over the NFHS Network featuring a top highlight from around the country each day beginning July 19. AHSAA member schools are being featured throughout the 30 days – including the first segment on Wednesday, August 4, August 6, August 13, August 14, and August 17. The schools featured include Briarwood Christian, Blount, Prattville, Gadsden City, Madison Academy and Russellville.
AHSAA SUMMER CONFERENCE APP: The week’s festivities can be found on the new AHSAA Mobile App, which can be downloaded free at Apple and Google stores online or by going to the following link: https://admin.mycaboodleevents.com/event/detail/79/ahsaa-2017-ahsaa-summer-conference

North Wins Girls’ and Boys’ All-Star Basketball Games at AUM Basketball Complex

MONTGOMERY – The North girls and boys posted hard-fought victories Wednesday night over the South in the North-South All-Star basketball all-star competition with a crowd of more than 2,500 in attendance at Auburn University-Montgomery’s Basketball Complex.
   North’s girls won 76-67 to improve to 18-3 in the series that got underway in 1997, and the North boys captured a 75-64 win and now holds a 48-27 edge in a series that got its start 64 years
ago in 1953.
    Earlier in the day the North also swept the first-ever all-star cross country competition and the North won 16-47 – running at AUM’s on-campus 3.1-mile course. Cross Country was added to the North-South all-star competition this year. The All-Star contests are part of the AHSAA’s annual Summer Conference, now in its 21st year. The week-long convention is managed by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
  The all-star action concludes Thursday with the North-South volleyball match at AUM at 4 p.m. The 58th AHSAA North-South Football All-Star Game will be the final all-star event  Thursday night at Cramton Bowl at 7 p.m.
NORTH GIRLS 76, SOUTH GIRLS 67: Homewood’s Ajah Wayne scored 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three steals to earn MVP honors for her team and led the North to its 18th victory in the 21-year series. She had 16 points in the first half – virtually unstoppable when going inside and dead-on at the foul line as well.
    LeFlore’s Daisha Bradford had 15 points, four steals and five rebounds to capture MVP honors for the South.
    Hazel Green’s Brooke Hampel added 12 points, Allie Cruce of Lauderdale County had 11, Karleigh Sledge of Deshler chipped in nine and Athens’ Alexis Woods had eight to round out the North offensive leaders for North coaches Mike Chase of Spain Park and Lisa Bates of  Sand Rock.
    Samson guard LaTascya Duff added 11 points and five rebounds for the South. Teammates Brianna Harris of Blount and Lakhylian Rankins of Faith Academy chipped in nine points each. The South was coached by Geneva’s Rich Bixby and R.C. Hatch’s Willie Morgan.
   The North dominated inside out-rebounding the South 53-36.
NORTH BOYS 74, SOUTH BOYS 64: Huffman guard Travarus Carroll had a game-high 27 points to help the North boys win for the 48th time in the 75-game series. No bucket was bigger than his startling round-house dunk with 57 seconds left in the third quarter that put the North ahead 48-40.
   The South rallied midway through the fourth period to tie the game at 53-53 but Carroll sank a 3-pointer just under the four-minute mark to push the North ahead by four 62-58.
    Carroll, the North MVP, finished 8-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-3 from the 3-point arc, and was 8-of-10 at the foul line. He also had five rebounds. Trey Jemison, a 6-foot-11 center from Homewood, added 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots for the North, coached by Paul Bryant’s Shon Peck-Love and Muscle Shoals’ Neal Barker. Parker’s 6-9 center Xavier Williams also had nine points and six rebounds.
  The South, coached by Tony Hayes of Monroe County and Douglas Moore of Bullock County, were led by Anquavious “Quay” Pollard’s 23 points and eight rebounds. The 6-6 forward from Lanett was 5-of-12 on 3-pointers and a perfect 4-of-4 at the foul line. He also had three steals.  Lanett teammate Emanuel Littles added 11 points and five rebounds.
NFHS NETWORK: The North-South Football All-Star Game Thursday night will live-streamed over the NFHS TV Network. Links and instructions on how to subscribe can be found at www.ahsaa.com. The All-Star Football Game will also be broadcast live by the AHSAA Radio Network. The NFHS Network also plans to live-stream the AHSAA Sportsmanship Luncheon Friday at noon and the Coaches’ Awards Banquet Friday night.
      The week’s festivities can also be found on the new AHSAA Mobile App, which can be downloaded free at Apple and Google stores online or by going to the following link: https://admin.mycaboodleevents.com/event/detail/79/ahsaa-2017-ahsaa-summer-conference

AHSADCA TO AWARD 10 COACHES’ CHILDREN SCHOLARSHIPS: A highlight of the AHSADCA each year is the awarding of scholarships to graduating seniors at AHSAA schools who are children of AHSADCA member coaches, teachers or administrators. The 10 students to receive the scholarships for 2016-17 will be recognized at Friday night’s Coaches’ Awards Banquet at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
    This year’s recipients include:

·       Heaven Rozier, Jackson High School, Daughter of Coach Walter and Ursula Rozier

·       Alexandria Wiggins, Enterprise High School, Daughter of Mr. Dewayne and Coach Janie Wiggins

·       Bailey Ryan Price, Chilton County High School, Son of Coach Zed Ryan and

Tammy Price

·       Jessica Norris, LAMP High School, Daughter of Coach Anthony and Patti Norris

·       Bailey Simmons, Elmore County High School, Daughter of Mr. Robert and Coach Angie Simmons

·       Mary Elizabeth Laatsch, Helena High School, Daughter of Coach Chris and Leigh Laatsch

·       Shelby Hicks, Oxford High School, Daughter of Coach Matt Hicks

·       Reagan MaKinley Smothers, Addison High School, Daughter of Micah and Cindy Smothers

·       Michael Drew Statom, Deshler High School, Son of Coach Michael and Cindy Statom

·       Jadie Burney, Huntsville High School, Son of Coach Jay and Sandee Burney


2017 ALL-STAR WEEK North-South Results/Schedule
Baseball: North  9-3, South 3-2 (North leads series 22-11-1)
Softball: North 12-1, South 6-11 (North leads series 25-10-3)
Boys’ Soccer: North 5, South 2 (North leads series 11-4-1)
Girls’ Soccer: North 4, South 1 (North leads series 13-2-1)
Boys Cross Country: North 16, South 47 (North leads series 1-0)
Girls Cross Country: North 20, South 35 (North leads series 1-0)
Girls Basketball: North 76, South 67 (North leads series 18-3)
Boys Basketball: North 74, South 64 (North leads series 48-27)
Volleyball: Thursday, 4 p.m., AUM (North leads series 13-6)
Football: Thursday, 7 p.m., Cramton Bowl (South leads series 30-25-2)