Six high schools chosen to participate in the ninth annual Champions Challenge high school football triple-header addressed the media Wednesday at the 2014 event press conference at the Alabama High School Athletic Association Office in Montgomery.
The press conference closed out the AHSAA’s annual Media Day, which was attended by more than 50 media representatives from across the state.
Carver-Montgomery will meet Opelika Friday night, Aug. 22 in the first of three games, according to Alvin Briggs, Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association which hosts the event each year.
The two remaining games will be played Saturday, Aug. 23, beginning at 5 p.m. with Piedmont taking on Dadeville in the small-school game. Class 6A teams Spanish Fort and Stanhope Elmore will meet in the final game at 7:30 p.m.
“We are very appreciative of the AHSAA for inviting us to participate,” Carver head coach Billy Gresham told the media. “We think this is a great opportunity for us to play a team we have the utmost respect for.”
This coming season will be the first year that schools will have 11 weeks to play 10 games and the first year for the new seven-classification system. Schools still have a choice whether to count any week one contest as a regular-season or exhibition contest. The Carver-Opelika and Piedmont-Dadeville games will remain as exhibition games, Briggs said, and will not count on either team's record. The Spanish Fort-Stanhope Elmore game is set to be the regular-season opener for each school.
“Coach Blackmon and I have talked and although it is officially an exhibition game, we are going to be playing all out just like a regular game,” Gresham said.
Piedmont Coach Steve Smith said his Class 3A Bulldogs will be facing a powerful opponent in Dadeville. “We lost of lot from last year’s team,” he said, “but we have young players who are having to step up and be leaders this year and this will be a very good challenge for us.”
Class 6A Carver (10-3) reached the third round of the 6A state playoffs last season and Class 6A Opelika (7-4) reached round one after playing in the 6A finals in 2012.
Spanish Fort (15-0) coached by Mark Freeman, moves up to Class 6A after winning back-to-back Class 5A state football titles. The Toros will be riding a 24-game winning streak heading into the Champions Challenge. The team is 38-5 in three seasons under Freeman’s direction and 73-12 over the last six years with three state titles.
Class 6A Stanhope Elmore finished 4-6 last season. The Mustangs are coached by Jeff Foshee, who has compiled a 98-58 record with 11 playoff appearances in 13 seasons.
“We think this is a great game for our program and our community,” Foshee said. “This is an exciting opportunity for our players, coaches, dance team, band and our entire community.”
Gresham has led Carver to a 29-9 record the last three seasons. The Wolverines have gone 60-16 over the last six years with six straight playoff appearances. Brian Blackmon has guided Opelika to a 35-20 record in five seasons with 17 wins over the last two years. The Bulldogs have reached the 6A playoffs for four straight seasons.
Piedmont (11-2) reached the Class 3A quarterfinals last season, losing 34-33 in overtime to eventual state champion Madison Academy. Smith’s Bulldogs averaged 43.2 points per game in 2013 while yielding only 12.5 points per game. He is beginning his ninth season as head coach. Piedmont has won 10 or more games the last seven seasons with an 86-18 record overall and a 17-7 mark in eight playoff appearances. The Bulldogs won the 2009 Class 3A state championship.
Dadeville (11-2) reached the 4A quarterfinals, losing a 35-34 heartbreaker to UMS-Wright. Coach Richard White’s Tigers are 66-9 over the last six seasons with an amazing 40-2 record in region play. Dadeville will be in Class 4A, Region 3 and Piedmont is in 3A, Region 6 this fall.
In last year’s Champions Challenge, Benjamin Russell beat Walker 28-14, Straughn downed Walter Wellborn 35-26 and Bob Jones edged Enterprise 23-20.
The 2014 Champions Challenge will be televised live and web-streamed by AHSAA TV partner Raycom Network. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast all three games live.
Raycom announced at the press conference the first slate of games for the its new AHSAA Thursday Night Game of the Week. Raycom, the AHSAA’s TV Partner for the Super 7 championships and State Basketball Tournament, will show 10 Thursday night games beginning Aug. 28 with Mountain Brook at Huntsville.
The remaining schedule includes: Sept. 4: Shades Valley at Center Point; Sept. 11: Florence at Cullman; Sept. 18: Washington County at Sweet Water; Sept. 25: Montgomery Academy at Trinity Presbyterian; Oct. 2: Hoover at Spain Park; Oct. 9: Charles Henderson at Eufaula; Oct. 16: Smiths Station at Enterprise; Oct. 23: R.A. Hubbard at Hackleburg; and Oct. 30: Blount at Saraland. Executive producer Mike Llewellyn announced that Graham Dunn and Mike Peacock will be the announcers for the Thursday Night Game of the Week.
The Champions Challenge schedule is:
Friday, August 22 – 7 p.m.: Carver-Montgomery (10-3) vs. Opelika (7-4)
Saturday, August 24 – 5 p.m.: Dadeville (11-2) vs. Piedmont (11-2)
Saturday, August 24 – 7:30 p.m.: Spanish Fort (15-0) vs. Stanhope Elmore (4-6)
CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE HISTORY
Benjamin Russell 28, Walker 14
Straughn 35, Walter Wellborn 26
Bob Jones 23, Enterprise 20
Spanish Fort 33, Muscle Shoals 22
Central of Clay County 25, Beauregard 13
McGill-Toolen 27, Northridge 0
Hueytown 36, Thomasville 27
Hamilton 38, Sweet Water 35
Daphne 24, Clay-Chalkville 21
Opelika 34, Greenville 6
Auburn 30, Spain Park 3
Jackson 30, Trinity 8
Prattville 37, Carver-Montgomery 0
T.R. Miller 27, Leeds 7
Hoover 32, Oxford 27
Prattville vs. Oxford, canceled due to inclement weather
Prattville 36, North Gwinnett, Ga. 3
Hoover 38, UMS-Wright 0
Clay-County 41, Addison 6
New Auburn University men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl will tip off the 2014-15 AHSAA Sports Mini-Clinic series hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association.
Pearl, who will be addressing the AHSAA basketball coaches for the first time as Auburn’s head coach, will be speaking at the Basketball Mini-Clinic Wednesday, Sept. 3. The basketball mini-clinic will be the first of 12 sports-specific mini-clinics hosted by the AHSADCA, said Director Alvin Briggs.
| “We are very excited to have Coach Pearl open this school year’s mini-clinic series,” Briggs said. “We know he will be a very popular clinician, so we encourage our coaches to go online and register as soon as possible because the space will be limited. This is a tremendous opportunity for our coaches to learn from one of the top college coaches in the U.S.”
The Basketball Mini-Clinic will be limited to the first 150 registrants due to space.
Pearl, one of the most popular coaches in Division I, was hired at Auburn University after last season. The former University of Tennessee and Milwaukee head coach owns a 231-99 career coaching record over 10 seasons heading into his first season with the Tigers. His teams have reached the NCAA Tournament eight times in that 10-year stretch.
Briggs said that bowling will be offered for the first time as an emerging sport this coming winter and is expected to become a championship sport in 2015-16.
“There has been a lot of interest by the schools in starting a bowling program,” he said. “We know the Bowling Mini-Clinic set Wednesday, Sept. 17, will provide an excellent opportunity for schools to learn more about the sport.”
The mini-clinic series will also include the sports of golf, tennis, wrestling, baseball, softball, soccer, track & field, volleyball and football. The football mini-clinic will conclude the 2014-15 series March 11.
AHSADCA 2014-15 Mini Clinic Series Schedule
BASKETBALL SEPTEMBER 3, 2014
BOWLING SEPTEMBER 17, 2014
GOLF OCTOBER 2, 2014
TENNIS OCTOBER 9, 2014
WRESTLING OCTOBER 15, 2014
BASEBALL NOVEMBER 19, 2014
SOFTBALL JANUARY 14, 2015
SOCCER JANUARY 28, 2015
TRACK & FIELD FEBRUARY 4, 2015
VOLLEYBALL FEBRUARY 11, 2015
FOOTBALL MARCH 11, 2015
$1.4 Million In Revenue Sharing, Track Championship Sites Approved By Central Board of Control
The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control for the second straight year approved returning $1.4 million to its member schools under its Revenue Sharing Plan. The action was taken Wednesday at its annual summer meeting in Montgomery. The Central Board also approved Gulf Shores (4A, 5A, 6A, 7A) and Cullman (1A, 2A, 3A) as host sites for the AHSAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the next three years (2015-17).
The AHSAA Legislative Council also met Wednesday.
The Revenue Sharing Plan, approved first by the Central Board in 2009, will have returned $6 million to its member schools in the five years of the program once 2013-14 school year payments are sent out next month. 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.
Also, for the 22th consecutive year, the Central Board voted to waive membership dues to all member schools – a cost savings of more than $75,000 annually.
“I want to thank the Central Board for their strong leadership,” said Executive Director Steve Savarese. “Returning another $1.4 million to our schools and waiving the annual membership dues are certainly important boosts to the financial well being of our schools.”
The board also approved area and section adjustments and championshionip play for soccer to the following groupings: Class 1A-3A, Class 4A-5A, Class 6A and Class 7A. The move reduces travel for member schools, more equally aligns each group and also accommodates the growth in boys and girls soccer.
Three new Central Board members were also sworn in by AHSAA Associate Executive Director Tony Stallworth, including Dr. Stephanie Robinson, principal of Fultondale High School; Darren Douthitt, Superintendent of Education of Anniston Schools; and Larry Raines, representing the Alabama State Board of Education.
In other Central Board action:
– Approved the financial reports for the spring championships in soccer, softball, baseball and track. Attendance and revenue was up overall from 2013.
– Approved a new catastrophic insurance plan for member schools, beginning 2014-15, and a new plan for calculating catastrophic insurance premiums. The Board was also updated on all AHSAA insurance coverage.
– Reviewed and approved all changes for the 2014-15 AHSAA publications.
– Approved the 2014-15 budgets for the AHSAA and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association and the 2013-14 audits for each group.
– Approved new track officials requirements.
– Approved adjustment to the fee structure for District Compliance Officers who conduct school audits.
– Approved middle school football jamborees on Saturday during the annual Champions Challenge.
– Voted to continue prohibiting member schools from competing in post-season national championship play as per current NFHS regulations.
– Gave approval to Knight Eady, the AHSAA’s new marketing partner, to procede with new AHSAA logo designs as well as Super 7 Football Championship and State Basketball Tournament logo designs.
– Heard a report from Denise Ainsworth that the AHSAA Five-Year Strategic Plan is ahead of schedule with 21 of 24 items now already completed.
– Heard a request by Briarwood Christian School Athletic Director Terry Davis to provide more stringent regulations for spring sports, especially baseball, softball, tennis and golf.
Action by the AHSAA Legislative Council, which met in the afternoon:
– Heard a review of the Central Board action.
– Reviewed and approved all changes for the 2014-15 AHSAA publications.
Jewelry Prohibition Lifted in High School Track and Field
INDIANAPOLIS — Effective with the 2015 high school track and field season, the prohibition of jewelry will be eliminated. This was one of several rules changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field Rules Committee at its June 16-18 meeting in Indianapolis. The committee’s recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
Becky Oakes, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Track and Field Rules Committee, said the committee determined that prohibiting jewelry in high school track and field and cross country is not necessary.
“The wearing of jewelry ordinarily presents little risk of injury to either the competitor or opponents,” Oakes said. “Elimination of the rule allows officials to focus on meet administration directly related to actual competition. Coaches continue to have the obligation to see that competitors are properly equipped.”
In other changes, language regarding the time limit to initiate a trial in the throwing and jumping events was revised. Previously, competitors in these events had to initiate a trial and carry it to completion within one minute. Beginning next year, participants must only initiate the trial within the one-minute time limit. Completion of the event will be allowed beyond the prescribed time.
Another change was made in field events involving implements. In events such as the shot put, discus, javelin and pole vault, an additional trial will be allowed when an implement breaks – and thus becomes illegal – during competition due to no fault of the competitor.
The revised note in Rules 6-2-17 and 7-2-17 reads as follows: “If a legal implement breaks during an attempt in accordance with the rules, no penalty shall be counted against the competitor and a replacement trial shall be awarded. If the implement breaks upon completion of the trial, a replacement attempt shall not be awarded and the results of the trial shall be recorded, provided it was made in accordance with the rules.”
In the discus throw, it no longer will be a foul if a competitor is out of control when exiting the back half of the circle. Also, in the discus, shot put and javelin, the requirement for the judge to call “mark” was eliminated.
Another change involves the high jump and pole vault events. A new article in Rule 7-2 will state that “a crossbar displaced by a force disassociated with the competitor after he/she is legally and clearly over the crossbar shall not be a fault and is considered a successful attempt.”
In Rule 8 involving special events, the committee approved the 1,500-meter run as an alternate for the 1,600-meter run in the decathlon and pentathlon. Oakes said when using the IAAF standard scoring, the 1,500-meter run is the standard distance. In addition, the indoor weight throw was approved for the listing of special events.
The final change involves Rule 1-4 on indoor track. Since many indoor meets are held in college facilities, the committee approved the 60-meter high hurdles and dash as alternates for the 55-meter high hurdles and dash. Oakes said this option eliminates special marking of the facilities for the hurdles and dash.
INDIANAPOLIS — Beginning with the 2015 high school baseball season, teams will be allowed to use video monitoring or replay equipment for coaching purposes during games.
This revision to Rule 3-3-1 was one of five changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 8-10 meeting in Indianapolis. The committee’s recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
Previously, video equipment was permitted but it could not be used during games for coaching purposes.
“With advancements in technology, it was extremely difficult for officials to determine if teams were using video replay during games,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and educational services and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee. “The committee determined it was the right time to permit teams to use these technological aids if they so choose.”
In softball, two rules changes were recommended by the NFHS Softball Rules Committee at its June 16-18 meeting in Indianapolis and subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
Rules 1-6-1 and 1-7-1 were revised to state that the batting helmet and the catcher’s helmet shall have a non-glare surface (not mirror-like).
Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and officials education and liaison to the Softball Rules Committee, said the committee instituted these changes because helmets that are mirror-like in nature are distracting and could be dangerous for other players.
In other baseball rules changes, the committee expanded the definition of interference in Rule 2-21 to include follow-through interference and backswing interference.
Rule 2-21-4 will state that “follow-through interference is when the ball hits the catcher after the batter has swung at a pitch and hinders action at home plate or the catcher’s attempt to play on a runner,” and Rule 2-21-5 will state that “backswing interference is when a batter contacts the catcher or his equipment prior to the time of the pitch.”
Hopkins said that follow-through interference and backswing interference are separate and distinct acts that previously were not addressed in Rule 2-21. The rule previously covered offensive, umpire and spectator interference.
The rules committee approved a change in Rule 1-5-1 regarding the batting helmet to be consistent with the rule for helmets used by defensive players. As is the case with head protection worn by field players, the batting helmet now must have a non-glare surface (cannot be mirror-like in nature) and meet the NOCSAE standard at the time of manufacture.
The definition of a foul ball in Rule 2-16-1 was expanded to be consistent with language elsewhere in the rules book. Specifically, Rule 2-16-1f will now state that a foul is a batted ball “that hits the batter in the batter’s box.” Article “g” will state that a foul is a batted ball “that hits the ground or home plate and then hits the batter or the bat which is held by the batter while he is in the batter’s box.”
The final change approved by the Baseball Rules Committee involves the following additional language to Courtesy Runner Rule No. 1: “In the event that the offensive team bats around, the pitcher and/or catcher who had a courtesy runner inserted on their behalf may bat in their normal position in the batting order.”
Baseball is the fourth-most popular sport for boys at the high school level with 474,791 participants in 15,632 schools during the 2012-13 season, according to the NFHS Athletics Participation Survey. Fast-pitch softball is the fifth-most popular sport for girls at the high school level with 362,488 participants in 15,067 schools during the 2012-13 season.
Thompson, Pinson Valley, Tallassee Capture South Super Section Wrestling Championships
Three-time defending Class 6A state wrestling champion Thompson High School posted 263 points Saturday to claim the AHSAA’s first Super Section Championship.
The Warriors won the 6A title by 56 points over runner-up Auburn (207). Prattville was third with 182.5 points and Hoover finished fourth at 172.
Tallassee out-pointed defending 1A-4A state champion St. James 193-183 in claim the South championship, and Pinson Valley tallied 215.5 points to ease past Jefferson County rival Mortimer Jordan (162) for the Class 5A South crown.
The South Super Sectional was held at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl Multiplex, and the North Super Sectional was held at Birmingham’s CrossPlex Bill Harris Arena.
Eight qualifiers in each of 14 weight classes in Class 6A advance from the South and North Super Section tournaments to the 59th annual AHSAA State Wrestling Championships at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center beginning Thursday. The top four finishers in Classes 5A and 1A-4A advance from each site.
The Super Section meets were held for the first time in the AHSAA’s history.
Coach Shawn Weltzin’s Warriors will be vying for their fourth straight 6A title. Arab (5A) and St. James (1A-4A) also won state titles in 2013.
Sophomore heavyweight T.J. Rayam (56-6) defeated Jeff Davis’ Durell Robinson (28-4) in a tough 3-2 decision in the final 6A match at Montgomery. The defending state champion in the 285-pound division will lead Thompson’s strong contingent to Huntsville.
Calera’s Coby Mize won the 170-pound championship in Class 1A-4A to remain undefeated at 48-0 on the season.
The Class 6A state tournament begins Thursday while Classes 5A and 1A-4A get underway Friday. The finals in all championship matches will be held Saturday.
North Super Section
Defending Class 5A state champion Arab scored 253.5 points to claim the North Super Section championship. Vestavia Hills had 277 points to win the Class 6A division and Madison County piled up 231 points to take the 1A-4A championship.
The Arabian Knights won decisively over runner-up Southside-Gadsden (177.5) with 132-pound senior John David Henderson winning his weight division to remain unbeaten this season at 60-0. Southside’s Haden Ryals (48-0) won at 152 pounds and is also unbeaten heading into the state championships.
The AHSAA’s all-time match wins leader Brandon Womack improved to 74-0 with four straight pins to win the 5A 160-pound title. Womack, who has won individual state championships five times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013), takes a 419-8 career record into this year’s state meet. He needed just over seven minutes to post his four pins in the Super Section.
Womack, who has won state championships at 103 pounds twice and once each at 112, 126 and 160 pounds, has a chance to become just the second six-time state champion in AHSAA history, Weaver’s Michael Sutton won from 1999-2004. Womack is one of just seven who have won five titles.
Hewitt-Trussville (212.5 points) finished second to Vestavia in the North 6A competition. Weaver (172.5) was second to Madison County in 1A-4A.
Super Sectional Wrestling Tournaments will be start Friday according to the regular schedule with weigh-ins at 7 a.m.
All Area Basketball Tournament games cancelled must be rescheduled for the next day, excluding Sunday. All games scheduled Thursday must be played Friday.
Beauregard won its first girls’ state title scoring 94 points to claim the Class 1A-4A championship as the 44th AHSAA State Indoor Track Championships concluded Tuesday at Birmingham’s CrossPlex. St. Paul’s tied a state record held by Mountain Brook by winning its 20th girls’ state crown.
UMS-Wright was runner-up to Beauregard with 71 points and Westminster at Oak Mountain was third with 58.
St. Paul’s posted 144 points to win the Class 5A girls championship and Homewood had 120 to take second place.
Hoover won the 6A girls’ crown for the first time since 2006. The Lady Bucs had 130 points and runner-up Pelham totaled 72.
In the boys’ competition, Coach Devon Hind’s Bucs made it a sweep as Hoover took the 6A crown with 90 points. Auburn was second with 71 points and Opelika third with 64.
Homewood won its second straight 5A boys’ title with 125 points and St. Paul’s was second with 73.
UMS-Wright captured the 1A-4A state boys’ title with 71.50 points. Montgomery Academy was second with 59 and Dadeville was a close third with 52.
A total of 12 state indoor records were either tied or broken Tuesday for a total of 25 during the two-day meet.
Highlights of Tuesday’s competition included:
CLASS 6A Girls
Brittley Humphrey and Sarah Sanford finished 1-2 in the 6A finals of the 60-meter hurdles. Humphrey, who broke her own state record in the prelims Monday, ran 8.54 to beat her time of 8.71 to set yet another record. Sanford ran a sterling 9.0 time, which bettered the state record times in Class 5A and Class 1A-4A.
Woodlawn’s Jayla Kirkland, who ran the nation’s seventh fastest prep indoor 60-meter time this season in Monday’s 60-meter prelims, topped that 7.50 mark with a winning time of 7.49 in the finals. Reigning champion Caitland Smith of Pelham was second with a 7.51 time.
Hoover’s 4x400 relay team also set a new state mark with a winning time of 3:56.58.
In what may have been the closest 400-meter girls’ race in state history, Pelham’s Smith and Hoover’s Sanford finished 1-2, just .03 seconds apart. Smith won in 56.51 seconds and Sanford, who lunged and did a complete tumble roll at the finish line, clocked 56.54. The times were just .36 and .39 off the state mark set by Joy Maneice-Marbury of Hoover in 2012.
CLASS 5A GIRLS
One record fell with St. Paul’s winning the 4x400 relay in 4:09.50.
CLASS 1A-4A GIRLS
Lincoln’s Shelbi White clocked 57.89 seconds in the 400-meter dash in the first event of the day and set a new Class 1A-4A state record. She edged Katie Brooks Boone of Westminster at Oak Mountain, who set the state mark last year with a 58.36 time. Boone ran 59.54.
Boone won the 60-meter dash with a 1A-4A state record 7.70. She also set the record last year with a 7.75.
CLASS 6A BOYS
Jaalen Jones of Thompson tied the indoor mark in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.89 seconds. Marlon Humphrey, who was injured in the long jump Monday and did not compete in any event Tuesday, set the 6.89 mark in 2013.
The 1,600-meter race turned out to be a sprint to the finish as Auburn’s Dylan Ogburn edged Austin Norwood of Hewitt-Trussville by .88 seconds in the best boys’ race of the day. Ogburn clocked 4:30.06 and Norwood 4:30.94.
CLASS 5A BOYS
Harrison Dudley of Paul Bryant won the Class 5A 400-meter dash in 48.68 seconds, setting a new state record. Hunter Hawkins of Walker held the record since his 49.97 time in 2012.
In the 5A boys’ 1,600-meter race, no record was set but Andy Smith of Homewood pulled past teammate Alex Ngei at the finish line to claim the championship in 4:35.62. Ngei’s second-place time was 4:57.14.
Homewood followed up with a state-record effort in the 4x800-meter relay. The Patriots clocked 8:19.17 to win and eclipsed the previous record set by Walker in 2012 by .37 seconds. The Vikings clocked 8:19.56.
Paul Bryant also set a 5A record in the 4x400 relay with a winning time of 3:25.71.
CLASS 1A-4A BOYS
Ismail Saleem of St. Jude broke the Class 1A-4A state record he set Monday in the 60-meter dash prelims with a 7.03 time in the finals. He ran 7.10 Monday.
Montgomery Academy also set a record in the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 3:36.59.