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AHSAA Mourns Death of Elkmont’s Leah Seibert

   The AHSAA is saddened to learn of the death of former Elkmont High School student Leah Seibert. The 2017 Bryant-Jordan Ken and Betty Joy Blankenship State Achievement Award recipient, passed away Tuesday night, Aug. 29, after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
   “Receiving the Bryant-Jordan Award was very special to Leah and her family, and the life she lived was a shining example of the character that Elkmont High School and the AHSAA want in all of our students,” said Elkmont assistant principal Kenny Jordan.
    AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese said, “Leah was a very special student-athlete who personified what courage is all about and inspired all who knew her. We are very saddened by the news of her death and offer our prayers and condolences to her family and her extended family of teachers and students at Elkmont High School.”
    Miss Seibert, who graduated last May, was a cheerleader and softball player at Elkmont High School in Limestone County. She had a 4.14 GPA on a 4.0 scale.  Leah was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, which required her to face many obstacles during her high school years.  Even when she couldn’t participate, she was there cheering her teammates on and giving them her full support.  Her positive attitude affected all who knew her.
    Funeral arrangements are not available at this time.




Mark Koski Named CEO of NFHS Network

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 29, 2017) —Mark Koski, director of sports, events and development at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) for the past 10 years, has been selected chief executive officer of the NFHS Network. Koski’s appointment by the NFHS Network Board of Directors is effective September 1. 

The NFHS Network, a joint venture between the NFHS, its member state associations and PlayOn! Sports, provides live and on-demand video of high school sports events through a digital network available at  www.NFHSNetwork.com and on Apple TV. The NFHS Network, now in its fifth year of operation, covered more than 25,000 events last year involving 27 sports and activities.  

Koski will continue to serve on the NFHS administrative staff as director of marketing and will divide his time between the NFHS Network headquarters in Atlanta and the NFHS office in Indianapolis.

“The NFHS Network Board of Directors sees in Mark Koski a person who has a powerful passion for the mission and potential of the NFHS Network,” said Jack Roberts, president of the NFHS Network Board of Directors and executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “He was involved with the Network when it was only an idea, has been instrumental in expanding its reach and has great ideas for furthering its success.

“Most important to the Board is that Mark has an excellent understanding of the needs of state high school associations, having served in the New Mexico association office and then serving all state associations during his decade on the NFHS staff; and he has gained the trust and respect of my counterparts across the country,” Roberts continued. “The hiring of Mark Koski and the location of the Network CEO in Indianapolis signal the next important phase in the development of the NFHS Network, which provides the NFHS its most significant tool ever for promoting the values of school-sponsored sports to students, schools and society.”

Since joining the NFHS staff in 2007, Koski has directed all major NFHS events and meetings. He also has been editor of the NFHS Soccer Rules Book and NFHS Field Hockey Rules Book and served on the NFHS Rules Review Committee.

Koski has been responsible for a tremendous growth in corporate partnerships for the NFHS the past five years as director of development. Currently, the NFHS has more than 20 corporate partners with total corporate revenue of $2.2 million annually. He also has led the national #MyReasonWhy public relations campaign the past two years and has been staff liaison with the NFHS Network since its formation in 2013. 

“We are excited about the opportunities that Mark’s appointment brings both to the NFHS and the NFHS Network,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. “We see the integration of NFHS marketing opportunities with the NFHS Network as a win-win for both organizations.”  

Prior to joining the NFHS staff in 2007, Koski was assistant director of the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) for four years, where he served as director of corporate development. He helped the NMAA increase its annual corporate sponsorship revenue from $27,000 to $700,000. He also was instrumental in starting the NMAA Foundation, which raised more than $100,000 in its first year of existence.

Koski graduated from Highland High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1995. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of New Mexico in 2000, where he was a decathlete and 400-meter sprinter for the Lobo track and field team for four years, and his master’s degree in sport administration from UNM in 2003. As a member of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA), Koski earned his Certified Athletic Administrator (CAA) status in 2005 and his Certified Master Athletic Administrator (CMAA) in 2007. He is currently in the final phase of receiving his doctorate in educational administration.

Prior to joining the NMAA, Koski was a physical education and special education teacher at Manzano High School in Albuquerque for three years. He served as head track and field coach at Manzano for one year, where he helped increase participation from 30 to 130 student-athletes. Koski also served as assistant football coach for three years and assistant track coach for two years.

During his time with the NMAA, Koski served on the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee and the NFHS Track and Field Rules Committee. At the state level, Koski was president-elect of the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors and a member of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Games and the New Mexico Track and Cross Country Coaches Association.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to take the NFHS Network to new heights as its chief executive officer,” Koski said. “After serving 10 years at the NFHS national office, I have learned how important and influential our state associations are to the success of the NFHS and our NFHS Network. Building and fostering relationships with the state associations has always been a priority of mine, and I will take that with me to the NFHS Network. Great things lie ahead for the NFHS, its member associations and our Network – I am honored to be a part of it.”


Hewitt-Trussville Downs Pell City in Champions Challenge Big School Game

   MONTGOMERY -- Hewitt-Trussville High School junior quarterback Paul Tyson passed for 236 yards and four touchdowns in the first half Friday night to lead the Class 7A Huskies to as 49-10 win over Class 6A Pell City in the final game of the 2017 AHSAA Champions Challenge high school football season-opening series at Cramton Bowl. The Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) hosts the annual event.
    Maplesville beat Fyffe 20-7 in the first game of the series Thursday night. Both games, televised live by the Raycom Network, were considered preseason contests.
    Tyson completed 11-of-12 attempts for 173 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter. He connected with senior Logan Pitts for a 34-yard touchdown just two minutes into the game and followed two minutes later with a 21-yard strike to senior running back Elliott McElwain for the Huskies’ second score. McElwain capped a six-play, 76-yard drive later in the quarter with a 2-yard TD run, and Malachi Moore hauled in a 5-yard pass in the right flat for the final score of the opening period with 11 seconds left in the quarter.
    Pell City slowed the Huskies in the second quarter with some offense of its own. Coach Keith Etheredge’s Panthers used up more than four minutes with a 10-play, 57-yard drive late in the period to finally get on the scoreboard. Senior Sergio  Alvarez kicked a 28-yard field goal to cut the lead to 28-3.
   Coach Josh Floyd’s Huskies struck quickly as Tyson directed a six-play, 65-yard drive that culminated with Lee Reagan getting behind the Pell City defense and Tyson delivered with a perfect 27-yard TD connection as Hewitt took a 35-3 lead into the half. Tyson finished the first half 15-of-18 passing for 236 yards, four TDs, and also tacked on 15 yards rushing on two carries. He did not play in the second half.
    Antonio Reed  scored on a 29-yard run early in the third quarter for the Huskies’ fifth score and Sean Jackson bulled in from the 4 for the final Hewitt TD with 9:37 to play in the fourth quarter. Parker Colburn kicked six of the seven extra points. Joseph Seagle booted the last one.
    Pell City’s Maleek Robinson scored on a 13-yard pass from quarterback Jackson Burkhalter with 3:20 remaining to close out the scoring for Pell City.
    Hewitt-Trussville finished with 24 first downs, 231 yards rushing and 279 passing for 510 total yards.  Myles Mason had 45 yards on three carries and Red had 44 on three to lead the Huskies’ running game. McElwain had five catches for 66 yards and Reagan had 67 on four receptions.  Dazalin Worsham also had three catches for 52 yards.
    Pell City had 15 first downs, 84 rushing yards and 80 passing for 164 total yards. Burkhalter was 5-of-13 passing for 58 yards. Darius Garrett and Andrew Crow had two receptions each. Brett Staples’ 10 tackles led the Panthers’ defense. Trevor Sisk had seven tackles and an interception to pace the Huskies.

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.