MONTGOMERY, AL – Coaches and players from Sweet Water, Clarke County, Thompson and James Clemens high schools gathered Thursday at the 2018 AHSAA Champions Challenge Football Classic press conference at the AHSAA Office here. The season-opening games are set for Aug. 23-24 at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.
Coaches addressed the large contingent of media on hand for the AHSAA’s annual Media Day, each discussion their excitement for the upcoming football season and the opportunity to participate in the 13th annual Champions Challenge.
Clarke County and Sweet Water kick off the season on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Cramton Bowl. Class 7A top-10 teams Thompson takes on James Clemens in the big-school game on Friday night, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. Raycom Media will televise the game live, the NFHS Network will live-stream the game and the AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast the game over its statewide network.
Clarke County Coach Stacy Luker, who is the only head coach in the 13-year history to compete in the season-opening football classic at three different schools, said his team is glad to play in the opening game versus his alma mater Sweet Water. “I have been here twice before,” Luker said, “and the first two times was pretty tough.”
Luker, who won five state championships while serving as head coach at Sweet Water, participated in the 2011 Champions Challenge versus Hamilton and then brought Demopolis in 2016 to face Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa. Hamilton beat Sweet Water 38-35 in ’11 and Hillcrest beat Demopolis 42-7 in ’16.
“We got beat pretty good in 2016,” he said.
He has no regrets, however. His Demopolis team rebounded to win five in a row and finished 7-4 – losing two games to 7A schools. His Sweet Water team rebounded from a 38-35 loss to 4A Hamilton to win 10 games before falling in the Class 1A semifinals. His Clarke County squad is coming off an 11-3 season and reached the Class 3A semifinals for the first time in school history in Luker’s first season at the helm. The Bulldogs, moved up to 4A this season, is ranked ninth in the ASWA preseason rankings.
Pat Thompson coached with Luker as an assistant at Thomasville and Sweet Water before he ascended to head coach in 2014 when Luker left. The Bulldogs, ranked second in the ASWA preseason rankings behind Lanett, are riding a 13-game winning streak heading into this season after claiming the school’s 10th Class 1A state championship overall. Lanett moved down to from 2A this season after winning the state title last year with a 15-0 season.
Sweet Water’s defense should be strong with linebackers Jacory Brown, Chance Broussard and JahDarrius McIntosh returning. All three were on hand at Thursday’s press gathering. Clarke County was represented Thursday by returning starters Jake Anderson, Javon Ivory and Avant Law.
Thompson (12-1), coached by Mark Freeman (186-41), won the Class 7A, Region 5 regular-season championship last season going 7-0. The Warriors lost in the semifinals to Region 5 runner-up Hoover, which won the state championship the next week. Freeman’s team features one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects, Taulia Tagovailoa, who passed for a state-leading 3,820 yards and 36 TDs last season as a junior. Shad Byrd returns at running back after rushing for 1,167 yards and 18 scores. Both were on hand Thursday along with linebacker Will Conner and defensive end Eric Mizell.
James Clemens (3-7) is the state’s youngest Class 7A school, opening its doors for the first time in 2012. Coach Wade Waldrop has coached the Jets to a 30-35 overall record, including going 10-2 in 2015 and 8-4 in 2016. James Clemens fell to 3-7 season but is expected to challenge for the Class 7A, Region 8 championship in 2018.
The Jets return 2018 starting quarterback Conner Cantrell, who was forced into action when expected starter Jamil Mohammad suffered a season-ending injury. Mohammad is back and at full strength giving Waldrop what he describes as “Two great quarterbacks. That is the position that probably has the most depth heading into this season.”
Both were in attendance Thursday along with defensive lineman Daevion Davis and running back Austin McGhee.
Also on hand at the press conference was Montgomery Catholic senior cross country standout Amaris Tyynismaa, her head coach Ed Wright, Goshen volleyball coach Amy Warrick and Bob Jones swimming coach Wade Thaxton.
The three coaches discussed those seasons, which also get underway Aug. 23, and discussed their own teams’ outlooks. Tyynismaa, the most decorated AHSAA girls’ distance runner in more than 40 years, comes into the 2018 season with four straight Class 4A/5A state girls’ cross country titles and holds the record for the fastest girls’ finish in state-meet history, 17:03.4, a state record she set as an eighth grader.
She said her goal this season is to get under 17 minutes, a feat she accomplished at last year’s Footlocker national competition. Catholic’s boys and girls finished second last season. Warrick’s Goshen team finished 28-14 and was Class 2A state volleyball runner-up last season, the best finish in school history. Thaxton’s young girls’ Bob Jones swimming team had a fourth-place finish last season in Class 6A/7A, and the boys finished seventh.
AHSAA CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE HISTORY
Hewitt-Trussville 49, Pell City 10
Maplesville 20, Fyffe 7
Andalusia 34, Brooks 13
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 42, Demopolis 7
Hoover 23, Central-Phenix City 7
Bob Jones 37, Carver-Montgomery 30
Gordo 28, Glencoe 21
Madison Academy 19, Leeds 14
Spanish Fort 42, Stanhope Elmore 14
Opelika 20, Carver-Montgomery 16
Dadeville 14, Piedmont 8
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
ALL TIME RECORDS (2006 – 2017)
SCHOOL DIS. CL. W-L PTS OPP
Bob Jones D-8 7A 2-0 60 50
Hoover D-5 7A 2-0 61 7
Opelika D-4 6A 2-0 54 22
Spanish Fort D-1 6A 2-0 75 36
Andalusia D-2 4A 1-0 34 13
Auburn D-4 7A 1-0 30 3
Benjamin Russell D-4 6A 1-0 28 14
Central, Clay County** D-6 5A 1-0 25 13
Clay County** D-6 3A 1-0 41 6
Dadeville D-4 4A 1-0 14 8
Daphne D-1 6A 1-0 24 21
Gordo D-7 3A 1-0 28 21
Hamilton D-7 4A 1-0 38 35
Hewitt-Trussville D-5 7A 1-0 49 10
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa D-5 6A 1-0 42 7
Hueytown D-5 5A 1-0 36 27
Jackson D-1 5A 1-0 30 8
Madison Academy D-8 3A 1-0 19 14
Maplesville D-3 1A 1-0 20 7
McGill-Toolen Catholic D-1 7A 1-0 27 0
Prattville* D-3 7A 1-0 36 3
Straughn D-2 3A 1-0 35 26
Oxford D-6 6A 0-0 0 0
Addison D-7 1A 0-1 6 41
Beauregard D-4 5A 0-1 13 25
Brooks D-7 4A 0-1 13 34
Central, Phenix City D-4 7A 0-1 7 23
Clay-Chalkville D-5 6A 0-1 21 24
Demopolis D-3 5A 0-1 7 42
Enterprise D-2 7A 0-1 20 23
Fyffe D-8 1A 0-1 7 20
MONTGOMERY – Hoover High School head football coach Josh Niblett will be the head coach for the Alabama All-Star football squad for the 32st annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game next December. The game will be played at Montgomery’s legendary Cramton Bowl on Monday night, Dec. 17 with a 6:30 p.m., kickoff. This will be the first game in the 31-year history to be played on Monday night.
Jamie Lee, Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) made the announcement at the 2018 Champion Challenge press conference Thursday at the AHSAA office.
Niblett, who served as head coach of the Alabama All-Stars in 2009, is one of the nation’s top high school coaches. He has coached six Hoover teams to AHSAA state championships and Oneonta to one title. The Bucs have been to the state finals every year except 2015 and 2008 since Niblett took over the program.
“It was a great experience when I coached in the game in 2009,” Niblett said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity again. It is very important to high school football in this state.”
Alabama lost 42-7 last year in Hattiesburg but still holds a 22-9 edge in the annual game that has pitted the top high school senior players from Alabama and Mississippi since 1988. Mississippi has won both games played in Mississippi (2015 and 2017). Alabama has a 22-7 edge in all games played in Alabama. Piedmont’s Steve Smith was head coach in 2017.
Niblett, the son of a high school football coach, owns a 129-16 record at Hoover, the state’s largest high school. His Bucs have won 89% of their games with state titles in 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 and finished second in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Oneonta won the 3A title in 2004 and was runner-up in 2003. His overall record is 194-48 (80%).
“Coach Niblett is one of our most outstanding high school head coaches in the nation,” said Lee.
The rest of the Alabama All-Star staff for next December’s game will be announced in the near future, Lee said. The AHSADCA, in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) administers the all-star game each year.
ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI ALL-STAR GAME HISTORY
SERIES HISTORY: Alabama has 22-9 edge
MONTGOMERY – The North scored 21 second-half points – including a wild and crazy touchdown on the last play of the game to beat the North 27-14 in the 59th AHSAA North-South All-Star Football Game at Cramton Bowl Thursday night.
The game closed out the 2018 All-Star Sports Week competition with the North and South splitting the baseball, softball, basketball and cross-country all-star events. The North swept the volleyball, soccer and football games and finished 7-4 on the week.
The football victory was the fourth in a row for the North and closed the South’s edge in the series to 30-27-2. 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. Thursday’s game was the first to played officially using the AHSAA instant replay program provided by DVSports. Two calls where challenged and both calls on the field were confirmed. The AHSAA has permission from the NFHS to conduct up to a three-year experiment using instant replay and will use it this fall for all schools who choose to participate.
North MVP Keaton Wilson of Sylacauga scored two TDs on 1-yard runs. His first score at 8:35 of the second quarter gave the North, coached by Chris Musso of Locust Fork, a 6-0 lead. His second TD came with 2:35 left in the third period and erased a 7-6 South lead. His two-point conversion gave the North 14-7 Lead.
Quenton Young of Clay-Chalkville dashed 11 yards for a score with two seconds left in the third period to up the margin to 21-7.
The South, which took its only lead of the game on Benjamin Russell running back Davede Herron’s 8-yard run and Fairhope kicker Cole Deeds’ extra point and held the 7-6 margin into intermission. Herron added his second score on a 1-yard run with 6:26 remaining to cut the margin to 21-14.
The North ran out all but eight seconds of the remaining time on its following drive. The South, coached by Montgomery Catholic’s Aubrey Blackwell, had one more play up its sleeve as they took over on their own 7-yard line. Tallassee’s Casey Baynes passed the Blount’s JaMarcus Powe-Mauldin in the flat, who ran for four yards before lateraling back to Baynes. Four laterals later, North linebacker Perry Kirby of Athens scooped up a fumble at the 1 and fell into the end zone for the North’s final touchdown.
Wilson finished with 72 yards rushing on 14 carries and Young had 69 on 15 attempts to help the North pile up 211 total rushing yards. Wilson was also 2-of-3 passing for 56 yards and West Morgan’s Gabe Peluso finished 4-of-5 for 47 yards. Carson Bobo of Oak Mountain had two catches for 46 yards and London Knight of Weaver had two for 37 yards.
Herron, the South MVP, finished as the game’s leading rusher with 111 yards on 18 tries. Leonard Gatson of Theodore picked up 46 on eight carries. Goshen quarterback Brock Snyder finished 9-of-15 passing for 66 yards, and Bayes was 5-of-10 for 14 yards. The North made three interceptions, however, with Jaylen Washington of Leeds, Court Coley of Westbrook Christian and Kevin Shaw of Colbert Heights notching one each.
Gordo linebackers Collin Herring and Ridge Wood led the North with 11 and 9 tackles, respectively. Coley also had seven. Pacing the South defense was Jacobey Hawthorne of W.S. Neal with eight stops. Jonathan Struggs of Jeff Davis and Ty Reynolds of Daphne had seven each.
The South finished with 14 first downs and 239 total yards while the North had 18 first downs and 314 total yards.
All-Star Sports Week Results
North 27, South 14
South 3, North 1
Girls: South 27, North 28
Boys: South 20, North 41
Girls: North 66, South 57
Boys: South 61, North 57
Game 1: South 3, North 2
Girls: North 2, South 0
Boys: North 2, South 1
Game 1: South 3, North 0
Game 2: North 5, South 4
Series Records (Through 2018)
Football – South leads 30-27-2
Boys Basketball – North leads 48-28
Girls Basketball – North leads 19-38
Baseball – North leads 23-12-1
Softball – North leads 25-21-3
Boys Soccer – North leads 11-4-1
Girls Soccer – North leads 15-2-1
Volleyball – North leads 14-7
Boys Cross Country – North and South tied at 1-1
Girls Cross Country – North and South are tied at 1-1
CONTACT RON INGRAM AT RINGRAM@AHSAA.COM
MONTGOMERY – Four outstanding high school football coaches among the ranks of the AHSAA will be the keynote clinicians at the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) Lunch and Learn Mini-Clinic Friday, March 9, at the AHSAA Office.
Thompson head football coach Mark Freeman will open the mini-clinic at 9 a.m., discussing Thompson High School’s offensive philosophy. He will be followed in Session 2 by Bob Jones head coach Kevin Rose, who will address his staff’s coaching philosophy.
After lunch, Hillcrest-Evergreen head coach Clint Smith will discuss “Building a Championship Program from the Ground Up,” explaining how he took a team that finished 4-7 in 2014 and in just three years led them to a 14-1 season and Class 3A state championship.
Hoover High School’s Josh Niblett, one of the most sought after high school coach clinicians in the nation, will close out the day discussing “Hoover High School Football.”
High school and middle school coaches can still register for the Lunch & Learn by going to http://www.ahsaa.com/Coaches-ADs/Lunch-Learns/Lunch-Learn-Registration
Registration online is $30.00.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Bob Colgate
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 8, 2018) — Players in high school football who are detected with missing or improperly worn equipment during playing action will be removed from the game for at least one down, unless the improper equipment is directly attributable to a foul by the opponent.
This revision in Rule 1-5-5 and other related rules was one of five rules changes for the 2018 season recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee at its January 19-21 meeting in Indianapolis. All changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
Rule 1-5-5 also states that if the player is wearing otherwise legal equipment in an illegal manner, the participant must also be replaced for one down. If proper and legal equipment has become improperly worn through use during the game, and prompt repair does not delay the ready-for-play signal for more than 25 seconds, the repair can be made without replacing the player for one down.
In a related change (1-5-4), the head coach is responsible for verifying that all players are legally equipped and will not use illegal equipment. The penalty provisions for any use of illegal equipment remain unchanged and result in an unsportsmanlike foul charged to the head coach.
“I commend the entire football rules committee for its thoroughness and focus on the state of the game of football,” said Todd Tharp, chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and assistant director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association. “The committee recognizes that the state of high school football focuses on risk minimization and the responsibility that coaches, players and game officials play in continuing to protect our student-athletes. By emphasizing that the coach is ultimately responsible for assuring his players are using legal equipment by issuing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for violations and that players will be removed for using legal equipment in an illegal manner, the committee continues to focus on minimizing risk for all players.”
The second rules change approved by the NFHS Football Rules Committee provides another option for teams in Rule 6-1-9 on fouls committed by the kicking team during free kicks and scrimmage kicks. Now, the receiving team can accept a 5-yard penalty from the succeeding spot. The previous three options remain: accept a 5-yard penalty from the previous spot and have the kicking team re-kick, put the ball in play at the inbounds spot 25 yards beyond the previous spot, or decline the penalty and put the ball in play at the inbounds spot.
Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine and liaison to the NFHS Football Rules Committee, said this additional option was approved by the committee in an effort to reduce re-kicks, further minimize risks and ensure that appropriate penalties are in place for all fouls.
“The ability to ‘tack on’ penalty yardage on free kicks will potentially reduce the amount of repeated free kicks,” Tharp said. “In addition, this rule change is consistent with NFHS rules that no foul should go unpenalized.”
The third change approved by the committee was a revision related to the examples of a defenseless player. In Rule 2-32-16a, the committee clarified that defenseless player provisions do not apply to a passer until a legal forward pass is thrown. The passer continues to be a defenseless player until the pass ends or the passer moves to participate in the play.
The committee also changed the signal for free-kick infractions, other than encroachment of the neutral zone, from Signal 18 to Signal 19.
The final change approved by the NFHS Football Rules Committee concerned six-player football in Rule 3. The timing rule between periods and intermission for six-player football has been standardized to match the current NFHS rules for 8-player, 9-player and 11-player football.
A complete listing of the football rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Football.”
MONTGOMERY — Austin’s Asa Martin was named the 36th recipient of the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Mr. Football Award Tuesday at the ASWA’s annual Player of the Year Awards luncheon, presented by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association. The luncheon was held at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in Montgomery.
Martin, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior running back, rushed for 2,228 yards this season on 198 carries with 33 touchdowns, while adding two more scores and 399 yards on 20 receptions. The Black Bears went 12-1 on the year before losing 51-50 in the quarterfinals in overtime to eventual state champion Pinson Valley. Martin also rushed for more than 1,300 yards as a sophomore at Austin, but attended school out of state as a junior. Martin graduated in December and is attending Auburn.
Martin, who was also named the ASWA’s Class 6A Back of the Year for 2017, finished with 170 points and 10 first-place votes in ballots cast by the ASWA’s prep committee, while Pinson Valley quarterback junior Bo Nix was second with 144 points. Thompson quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, selected Class 7A Back of the Year, was third with 143. Both Nix and Tagovailoa had one first-place vote, while Central-Phenix City wide receiver Justin Ross — who finished fourth with 111 points — had two firsts. Beaureguard’s La’Damian Webb, the 2016 Mr. Football, and 2017 Class 5A Back of the Year, was seventh with 64 points, behind Park Crossing’s Tank Jenkins (66) and Thompson’s Ahmad Edwards (65). All were named to the ASWA Super 12. Rounding out the Top 12 were offensive lineman Pierce Quick, Hewitt-Trussville; running back Jermaine Brown, St. Luke’s Episcopal; offensive lineman Clay Webb, Oxford; quarterback/defensive back Cardavion Myers, Piedmont; and quarterback J.D. Martin, Wetumpka.
In winning the Mr. Football, Martin becomes the fifth running back to win the award in the last seven years and second player from North Alabama in four years, joining Kerryon Johnson of Madison Academy in 2014. He is the first player from the Decatur area to win the award.
ASWA 2017 Back and Lineman of the Year Recipients
Back of the Year: Taulia Tagovailoa, Thompson, quarterback
Lineman of the Year: Pierce Quick, Hewitt-Trussville, offensive lineman
Back of the Year: Asa Martin, Austin, running back
Lineman of the Year: Marcus Jenkins, Park Crossing, defensive lineman
Back of the Year: La’Damian Webb, Beauregard, running back
Lineman of the Year: Malik Langham, Lee-Huntsville, defensive lineman
Back of the Year: Symon Smith, UMS-Wright, running back
Lineman of the Year: Caleb Storie, Rogers, linebacker
Back of the Year: Cardavion Myers, Piedmont, quarterback/defensive back
Lineman of the Year: Andres Fox, Mobile Christian, defensive lineman
Back of the Year: Jermaine Brown, St. Luke’s Episcopal, running back/quarterback
Lineman of the Year: Baraskious Dowdell, Lanett, defensive lineman
Back of the Year: Shamar Lewis, Sweet Water, running back
Lineman of the Year: Devin March, Houston County, defensive lineman
Back of the Year: Griffin McKenzie, Monroe Academy, quarterback
Lineman of the Year: Trace Ott, Autauga Academy, offensive lineman
HATTIESBURG (MS) – The week of preparation is over for Alabama and Mississippi All-Star football teams as both teams completed their seventh practice of the week Friday morning. The two teams square off Saturday at noon in the 31st Alabama-Mississippi Classic all-star football game at Carlisle Faulkner Field/M/M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi here.
Raycom Media will televise the game over its network of affiliates in Alabama and Mississippi with most of the stations, including WSFA TV 12 in Montgomery, showing the game over the main channel. Some of the affiliates will show the game over Raycom’s Bounce channel. To check availability, go to www.pathtotheplayoffs.com and click on “Where to Watch” or click on the following link for a story detailing the available at each affiliate: http://www.ahsaa.com/News-Articles/ArticleId/928/31st-alabama-mississippi-all-star-football-game-to-be-televised-on-main-channel-of-7-raycom-affiliates-saturday
ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI ALL-STAR GAME HISTORY
SERIES HISTORY: Alabama has 22-8 edge