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Thompson’s Tagovailoa Leads Warriors Past James Clemens 38-7 in Champions Classic

Thompson’s Tagovailoa Leads Warriors Past James Clemens 38-7 in Champions Classic

  MONTGOMERY –  Thompson quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who led the AHSAA in passing as a junior with 3,820 yards in 13 games, opened his senior season with a bang completing 10-of-13 passes in the first quarter for 185 yards and three touchdowns and had 309 yards by halftime to pace the Warriors (1-0) to a 38-7 win over James Clemens in the final game of the AHSAA’s 2018 Champions Challenge at Cramton Bowl.
    Tagovailoa finished 26-of-39 for 385 yards and four touchdowns as Coach Mark Freeman’s team out-gained the Jets (0-1) 490 total yards to 353.
       Junior receiver Michael Pettway had five catches for 118 yards and two scores, both coming in the first quarter covering 27 and 53 yards. Tagovailoa’s other first-half scoring toss went to senior Kyle Smoak for five yards – rolling up 309 passing yards by halftime and Thompson led 28-7. He found Will Hoffman for a 25-yard score early in the third period.
Running  back Shadrick Byrd, who had 65 yards rushing on 14 carries, scored on a 3-yard run in the first half for Thompson, and Evan McGuire kicked five extra points, booted a 44-yard field goal with 3:26 left in the game to close out the scoring.
    While Tagovailoa was red hot, James Clemens’ quarterback, senior Jamil Muhammad, caught fire in the second period – directing a 10-play, 82-yard drive delivering a 16-yard TD pass to Austin McGhee as the clock struck zero to cut the lead to 28-7. Muhammad was 11-of-13 in the first two quarters for 193 yards and finished 17-of-25 for 242 yards. Dylan Blackburn rushed for 76 yards on 15 carries and McGhee had six catches for 80 yards. Trevor Hunziker added five receptions for 78 yards.  Coach Wade Waldrop’s punter Drew Blackwell averaged 39.3 yards on six punts.
    Defensively, Jaylin Grigsby and Zach Hopkins had 11 tackles each for the Jets. Gage Motes had 13 stops, David Douglas and Sam Reynolds added eight each for Thompson.
     Each team had one challenge per the AHSAA’s new Instant Replay program administered by DVSports. The first one, a James Clemens running play ruled a lost fumble, was overturned when officials reviewed the play. It was the first overturned call in the Instant Replay’s short history. The other challenge, by Thompson, confirmed the official’s call on the field that a Warriors receiver came down after matching a spectacular catch inside the James Clemens 15 in the final quarter.



Clarke County Downs Sweet Water 20-14 in Champions Challenge Opener at Cramton Bowl

MONTGOMERY – Clarke County High School senior quarterback Javon Ivory rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries and completed 5-of-8 passes for 76 yards and another TD to lead the Bulldogs to a 20-14 victory over Sweet Water in the AHSAA’s 2018 Champions Challenge Classic football opener at Cramton Bowl.
     The game officially opened the season for AHSAA schools and was also the first game to utilize the DVSport Instant Replay system which is being used by a number AHSAA schools this  season.
     Instant Replay will be used for Friday’s final game of the Champions Challenge between Class 7A teams  Thompson and James Clemens. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Cramton Bowl with Raycom Media televising the game live over its statewide network. The AHSAA’s NFHS Network School Broadcast Program is also live-video streaming the game over the NFHS Network thanks to the Cramton Bowl Pixellot camera and the talented announcing team of the AHSAA Radio Network. The  network is broadcasting the game over its statewide network and the internet as well. The links can be found at www.ahsaa.com.
     Clarke County opened the scoring with 8:20 remaining in the first quarter when receiver Caleb Taite scored on an 18-yard pass from Ivory, who one play earlier scored on a keeper around right end on a play that was called back for a penalty.
        Sweet Water marched 69 yards on 14 plays and used most of the rest of the time in the first quarter to take the lead. Quarterback Braiden Broussard found his older brother, tight end Chance Broussard, for a 6-yard touchdown toss and Jacory Brown’s extra-point kick gave Sweet Water the lead 7-6 with 1:18 seconds left in the period.
    Clarke County’s Ivory erased that lead two plays later racing 73 yards around the right side, shook loss and legged into the end zone to give Coach Stacy Luker’s team  12-7 lead with 12 seconds remaining in first quarter.
   Ivory directed a Clarke County on a 54-yard drive in the third quarter that culminated in a 1-yard sneak by the senior quarterback and increased the lead to 18-7. The play was challenged by Sweet Water Coach Pat Thompson, the first replay opportunity of the night for the AHSAA’s new replay rule. However, after reviewing the call on the TV monitor on the sideline, the touchdown call was confirmed. The two-point extra-point play that followed gave Clarke County a 20-7 lead.
    Sweet Water drove 90 yards in just six plays midway through the fourth period with Jaylin Dixon scoring on a 29-yard run. Jacory Brown’s kick closed the gap to 20-14. The Bulldogs of Coach Pat Thompson mounted one final drive, moving from their own 18 to midfield before turning the ball on fourth down with a fumble.
    Dixon was the game’s leading rusher with 86 yards on eight carries. Jacory Brown added 52 yards on 14 tries. Taite had 10 tackles on defense for Clarke County while Tyler Ward and Willie Lewis had seven stops each for Sweet Water. Braylone Rogers also had the game’s only interception.
    Sweet Water finished with 207 yards, 201 rushing and six passing, and had 14 first downs. Clarke County has 11 first downs and 239 total yards – 163 rushing and 76 passing.
    The victory for Luker came against his own alma mater and a program that he coached to five state titles in a seven-year period. He is now in his second year as head coach at Clarke County, where he led the team to the Class 3A semifinals in 2017. The school moved to Class 4A this season.
   Sweet Water, coached by Pat Thompson, won the Class 1A title last season. It was the 10thi state championship in school history. Thompson was defensive coordinator before taking over the program after Luker’s departure in 2014.

     

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.

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

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


Andalusia Beats Brooks 34-13 In Champions Challenge Saturday

     MONTGOMERY – Andalusia downed Brooks 34-13 Saturday to claim the win in the third game of the 2016 AHSAA Champions Challenge prep football classic at Cramton Bowl.
     The game, which started at 7 p.m., was interrupted twice by lightning and inclement weather delays and took four hours and 30 minutes to complete from start to finish.
      The game was interrupted for over almost two hours in the first quarter by lightning delays. In the minute and 52 seconds between the delay, Andalusia (1-0) took a 7-0 lead when quarterback Ethan Wilson streaked 52 yards on a keeper for the touchdown. Wain Youngkuma kicked the extra point at 5:55 in the period.
    The Champions Challenge, an event of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA), the AHSAA’s coaches’ wing, closed out the 2016 Classic Saturday night with the Andalusia-Brooks clash. Hoover beat Central-Phenix City 23-7 on Friday and Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa downed Demopolis 42-7 on Thursday in the opener.
    After the second delay, Brooks (0-1) drove to the Andalusia 2-yard line before being stopped on fourth down by Coach Trent Taylor’s Bulldogs defense on fourth down. Andalusia then marched 98 yards on nine plays with Antonio Gurley’s 2-yard run helping extend the lead to 14-0 with 10:48 in the second quarter.
     Coach Brad Black’s Lions responded with a nine-play, 74-yard drive culminated by Lazarius Decatur’s 12-yard pass from Lake Spurgeon for a touchdown. With 6:10 still to play in the first half, Brooks trailed 14-7.
     The Bulldogs  took full advantage of their last possession of the half, heading 57 yards on six plays – taking just 1:01 to take a 21-7 lead.  B.J. Anderson hauled in a strong throw from Wilson just inside the pylon on the right side of the end zone with nine seconds left for the score.
       Brooks closed the score to 21-13 when Spurgeon connected with Decatur for a 27-yard touchdown connection with 58 seconds left in the third period.  Andalusia roared back, however, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns on Gurley’s 1-yard TD run at 10:04 and Jamel Hourel’s 5-yard score with 6:32 remaining.
     Hourel, who gained over 2,300 yards and scored 36 touchdowns last season, finished with 108 yards and one TD on 18 carries for the Bulldogs. Wilson had 80 yards and a score on nine carries and was 13-of-20 passing for 189 yards and another score.  Gurley had just two carries for three yards but scored two times. Anderson caught five passes for 85 yards and a score.
    Deondre Hampton had 83 yards rushing on 24 carries for Brooks. Spurgeon was 15-of-22 for 148 yards and two scores passing. Noah Turbyfill caught six passes for 63 yards and Decatur had the two TDs and 39 total receiving yards.
    Andalusia’s Allan George had an interception he returned for 34 yards and seven tackles. Riley Graham had eight stops, Will Clark had seven and Andrew Holmes had five with three sacks for 17 yards in losses. Roosevelt Weaver also had an interception.
    Matthew Rainey had 14 tackles and Colin Anderson 10 to pace the Lions’ defense. Seth Yerby also had eight stops.

Hoover Scores Quickly to Beat Central In Champions Challenge Friday

     MONTGOMERY --  Hoover scored twice in the final 3:36 of the second quarter Friday night and then weathered a 51-minute lightning delay to post a 23-7 win over Central-Phenix City in the 11th annual AHSAA Champions Challenge high school football classic at Cramton Bowl.
    The Champions Challenge, an event of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA), the AHSAA’s coaches’ wing, closes out the 2016 Classic Saturday night at 7 p.m. with Andalusia taking on Brooks in the third and final game.
     Central took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on Jaxton Carson’s 8-yard touchdown run that capped an eight-play, 55-yard march. Alvin Rentaria kicked the extra point.  Hoover put together is own eight-play, 55-yard drive late in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7. Coach Josh Niblett’s Bucs scored when quarterback Garrett Farquhar turned a pass-run option into a 2-yard TD strike to Joseph Timpa with 3:36 left in the period.  Barrett Pickering tied the game with the first of two first-half PATs.
     Hoover’s defense forced a punt on Central’s next possession, and Bucs return specialist Cortez Hall took the kick on one bounce at the Red Devils’ 48 and raced 35 yards to the Central 1. Five plays later, Farquhar scored on a 3-yard keeper with 53 seconds left in the half for a 14-7 lead.
    Coach Jamey DuBose’s team wasn’t done, however. A 15-yard penalty on Hoover and an 18-yard Carson run moved the Red Devils into Hoover territory near mid-field and quarterback Zion Webb added runs of 21 and 13 yards to get Central in scoring position at the Bucs 3 with three seconds left. With timed for only one play, Hoover stuffed Webb short of the goal line to send Hoover into intermission ahead.
    Hoover’s momentum continued in the second half as the Bucs posted nine more points on three Barrett Pickering field goals in a game that was delayed almost an hour due to inclement weather and lightning. Pickering’s kicks were 32, 37 and 29 yards. He also punted four times for a 35.2-yard average.
    Central (0-1) finished with 208 total yards and Hoover had 214.  Farquhar finished 8-of-25 passing for 153 yards and one TD.  Webb, who was the game’s leading rusher with 90 yards on 21 carries, was 6-of-26 passing for 51 yards for Prattville. Carson also had 64 yards on 15 carries and the Lions’ only TD.
     Hoover’s rusher was Vonte Brackett with 37 yards on 15 carries.  Shedrick Jackson had three pass receptions for 75 yards and Cortez Hall had three catches for 69 yards. Hall also had the 35-yard punt return.
     Bucs linebacker Ben Abercrombie register a game-high 11 tackles and Kholbe Coleman had eight stops. He also had an interception he returned 51 yards.
    Central’s Jarious Upshaw had 10 tackles and Markail Benton had seven stops. 

Hillcrest Thumps Demopolis 42-7 In Champions Challenger Opener

     MONTGOMERY --  Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa High School’s veteran offense posted 42 points in the first half en route to a 42-7 win over Demopolis as the two teams opened the 2016 prep football season at Cramton Bowl in the first of three games in the 11th annual Champions Challenge high school football classic.
    The AHSAA Champions Challenge has been hosted each year since 2006 by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA). Hoover and Central-Tuscaloosa play Friday night at 7 p.m. in game 2 of the Classic, and Andalusia meets Brooks Saturday night at 7 in the final game which opens the season for each school.
     Coach Sam Adams’ Patriots (1-0) combined a strong running game anchored by senior tailback Brian Robinson and the solid passing of senior quarterback Cole Frederick. Frederick earned MVP honors last May as Hillcrest won the Class 6A state baseball championship just blocks from Cramton Bowl at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery.
   Frederick’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Torin Mayhew just two minutes into the game put the Patriots ahead 6-0. By the time the half was done, Frederick had completed 12-of-16 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns. He attempted only one pass in the second half. Mayhew had three first-half catches for 58 yards and Jahi Brown caught four for 41 yards with touchdowns covering 17 and 10 yards in the second period.
     Robinson gained 55 yards on 10 carries, all in the first half, and scored twice with runs of 6 and 9 yards. Demopolis’ special teams play had two miscues on kickoffs, one leading to a safety and the other to the Patriots’ fifth score of the half.
     Demopolis quarterback Logan McVay streaked 42 yards down inside the 15 with 10 seconds left in second quarter for the Tigers’ biggest play of the night. The spark carried over to the second half as Coach Stacy Luker’s team kept the ball for more than six minutes to start the second half. His defense also played much better, keeping the Patriots to zero yards – albeit Adams’ reserves as head coach cleared his bench in the season-opening win.
    A.J. Jackson capped an 11-play, 72-yard drive in the fourth quarter to score Demopolis’ only TD of the night with a 7-yard run with 5:01 remaining.  The Tigers (0-1), with just 69 yards total offense in the first two quarters, finished with 151 yards rushing and 52 passing for 203 total yards. McVay was 3-of-6 passing for 27 yards and had 48 yards rushing on 11 carries. Jackson finished with 74 yards on 22 carries.
    Adams’ defense was led by Kenyaques Marshall’s eight tackles. Carson Williams added seven, Jaquez Jones and Cole Kizziah, six each.  Kionte Taggart also had an interception in the end zone right before the first half ended.
    Russ Logan’s nine stops led Demopolis. Tavian Brown added seven tackles with three resulting in 10 yards lost.   

Six Teams To kick off 2016 Season At 11th annual Champions Challenge

      MONTGOMERY, AL – Six prep football powers are set to kick off the 2016 high school football season this weekend at the 11th annual Champions Challenge Football Classic hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association and its coaches’ wing, the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association, at Cramton Bowl Aug. 18-20.
      All six head coaches were on hand Tuesday at the AHSAA office for Champions Challenge press conference. The press conference concluded the AHSAA’s annual Media Day, attended by more than 85 media, coaches, players and special guests.
     Sam Adams is beginning his third season as head football coach at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa. He was quick to point at the press conference that while the six head coaches had accumulated more 600 wins between them, he had not contributed many to that total.
     Adams, 17-8 in his first two seasons, says just being in the company of such talented coaches and teams is good for his program. The Class 6A Patriots, 8-4 in 2015, plays Demopolis (10-3) in the opening game of the Champions Challenge Thursday night at Cramton Bowl at 7 p.m. Hoover (10-3) faces Central-Phenix City (9-4) in Friday night’s 7 p.m. contest, and Andalusia (11-2) faces Brooks (11-2) in Saturday’s final game, also set to kick off at 7 p.m.
     The six coaches have a combined 670-285 record with 12 state championships and a .702 winning percentage collectively. The six teams were 59-18 overall in 2015All three contests will be broadcast live over Raycom Media’s AHSAA TV Network. The cable channels in each part of the state can be found by visiting www.pathwaytotheplayoffs.com.
      The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast all three games and all six schools will have local radio stations in the booth. Hillcrest’s NFHS Network School Broadcast Program will also tape-delay Thursday’s game over the NFHS Network platform, Hoover’s NFHS SBP will tape-delay Friday’s game, and Saturday’s game will also be tape-delayed over the NFHS Network by local producers.
     Adams’ coaching counterpart Stacy Luker, who has a 187-74 head-coaching record with five state championships to his credit, said Adams’ Patriots will be a strong opponent. “We know they have a talented team, and we are looking forward to playing them,” Luker said. The former Sweet Water head coach was 10-3 in his first season at Demopolis last year.
    Hillcrest features one of the state’s top running backs in senior Brian Robinson. Robinson rushed for 1,329 yards and 15 touchdowns last season on 227 carries – with his finest showing coming in a wild 43-42 loss to Clay-Chalkville when he set the AHSAA Class 6A single-game state record with 447 yards rushing. Quarterback Cole Frederick, who earned MVP honors last spring while helping Hillcrest win the 6A state baseball title in Montgomery at Riverwalk Stadium, completed 132-of-232 passes for 1,829 yards and 15 TDs last season.
    Luker said his team doesn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher in its midst but said, “we have four or five backs who we think can get the job done.” What the Class 5A Tigers do have is a defense back almost intact that allowed only 115 yards rushing per game last season. The defense, led by leading tacklers R.J. Cox (72 tackles), Russ Logan (59), Khyrim Bryant (40) and Logan McVay (28 tackles and two interceptions), gave up only 204.6 total yards per game.
     “No doubt we have six of the top programs in the state playing in the Champions Challenge this year,” said Alvin Briggs, Director of the AHSADCA.  “We have six outstanding coaches that have won 12 state championships between them.”
     For the first time since the inception of the Champions Challenge in 2006, all three games in the Classic will be regular-season openers. The teams have the choice of playing a jamboree game or a regular season game in week zero, he said. “We are looking at three very exciting match-ups.”
     Friday’s game pits Class 7A powers Hoover and Central-Phenix City. Coach Josh Niblett, Hoover’s boss, has an amazing 106-11 record for the Bucs in the last eight years with seven trips to the state finals and two state crowns.  Jamey DuBose, Central’s coach, is no stranger to Niblett and the Bucs. DuBose was head coach at Prattville facing the Bucs in the state finals in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Prattville won 16-13 in ’08 and 35-34 in ’11 while Hoover won 28-23 in ’09.
     “This is the kind of game that lets you find out just where you program is,” said DuBose, 90-35 in 11 seasons as a head coach with stops at Susan Moore, Prattville, Florence and Central. He is beginning his third season for the Red Devils after going 19-6 in his first two seasons. “We are looking forward to this week’s game with Hoover.”
    Both thanked the AHSAA for setting up contests like the Champions Challenge, agreeing that these kinds’ of contests are important for their teams and schools.
     Andalusia head coach Trent Taylor coached in the Champions Challenge with Straughn in 2013 – winning 35-26 over Walter Wellborn. Saturday night his team will take on Class 5A Brooks. “This is as close as it gets to playing in a bowl game for our high school players. Our entire community is excited,” Taylor added.
     The Class 4A Bulldogs (11-2) and Lions (11-2) are meeting for the first time school history.
     “That makes this game even more exciting,” said second-year Brooks head coach Brad Black. “Coming to Montgomery to play in a game of this magnitude really means a lot to our program.”
     The game will feature two of the state’s premier runners from 2015. Andalusia features senior running back Jamal Hourel, who rushed for 2,396 yards and 35 touchdowns last season on 236 carries. Brooks’ tailback Deandre Hampton, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior, gained 1,855 yards on 264 carries in 2015 with 26 rushing touchdowns.
    Tickets may be purchased online at www.ahsaa.com by clicking on the PrepTix link or by going to: http://www.preptix.com/ahsaa.
         In last year’s Champions Challenge, Madison Academy beat eventual 4A state champ Leeds 19-14, Gordo downed Glencoe 28-21 and Bob Jones defeated Carver-Montgomery 37-33.

CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE HISTORY

2015
Madison Academy 19, Leeds 14
Gordo 28, Glencoe 21
Bob Jones 37, Carver-Montgomery 30

2014
Opelika 20, Carver-Montgomery 16
Dadeville 14, Piedmont 8
Spanish Fort 42, Stanhope Elmore 14
2013

Benjamin Russell 28, Walker 14
Straughn 35, Walter Wellborn 26
Bob Jones 23, Enterprise 20
2012

Spanish Fort 33, Muscle Shoals 22
Central of Clay County 25, Beauregard 13
McGill-Toolen 27, Northridge 0
2011
Hueytown 36, Thomasville 27
Hamilton 38, Sweet Water 35
Daphne 24, Clay-Chalkville 21

2010
Opelika 34, Greenville 6
Auburn 30, Spain Park 3
Jackson 30, Trinity 8                                     

2009
Prattville 37, Carver-Montgomery 0
T.R. Miller 27, Leeds 7
Hoover 32, Oxford 27

2008
Prattville vs. Oxford, canceled due to inclement weather

2007
Prattville 36, North Gwinnett, Ga. 3

2006
Hoover 38, UMS-Wright 0
Clay-County 41, Addison 6