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.
MONTGOMERY – Piedmont High School head football coach Steve Smith will be the head coach for the Alabama All-Star football squad for the 31st annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game next December. The game will be played at Hattiesburg on the University of Southern Mississippi campus for just the second time in the game’s storied history.
AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese made the announcement at the District 6 meeting Monday night held at Jacksonville State University’s Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium.
Smith replaces former Opelika High School Coach Brian Blackmon, who stepped down as head coach for the 2017 game after resigning at Opelika and accepting a position with Auburn University’s athletic department as a football analyst last month. Blackmon was announced as head coach in late January.
“I am very honored and humbled,” Smith said. “I really enjoyed my two times in the game as an assistant coach. I am looking forward to this opportunity.”
Smith served as an assistant coach in last year’s game, a 25-14 win over Mississippi at Cramton Bowl and in the 2009 all-star game played at Mobile. Alabama holds a 22-8 edge in the series which began in 1988. However, Mississippi is 1-0 in games played in Mississippi. The All-Star Classic between the two states started a home-and-home rotation in 2015. The first 28 games were played in Alabama.
UMS-Wright’s Terry Curtis was Alabama head coach in 2016. The 2017 game is set for Saturday, Dec. 16.
Smith, was an All-State quarterback graduating in 1987 from Cherokee County High School. He played at Jacksonville State University from 1988-91 and served as a graduate assistant coach on JSU’s 1992 national championship team. He became the head coach at Cedar Bluff High School in 1995 and compiled an 85-45 record over the next 11 seasons. He moved to Piedmont in 2006. His teams won 3A state championships in 2009, 2015 and 2016 — finishing last season with a 25-game winning streak, the longest current football winning streak in the AHSAA.
His Piedmont teams have compiled a 123-23 record overall, including 28-8 in 11 playoff appearances and 71-7 in region games. His teams have gone undefeated or suffered just one loss in region play every season since 2007.
He will be coaching in his third Alabama-Mississippi all-star game. He first coached in 2009 and again last year.
“Coach Smith is one of our state’s most outstanding head coaches,” said Alvin Briggs, Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
The rest of the Alabama All-Star staff for next December’s game will be announced in the near future, Briggs said. The AHSADCA, in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) administers the all-star game each year.
MONTGOMERY – Beauregard’s La’Damian Webb was named the 35th recipient of
the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Mr. Football Award on Wednesday at
the ASWA’s annual Player of the Year Awards luncheon, presented by the
Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association. The annual
luncheon was held at the Renaissance Hotel at the Convention Center in
Webb, a 5-foot-8, 184-pound junior running back, added his name to the
AHSAA record books this season, setting a single-season touchdown record
with 47, and rushed for the second-highest season yardage total in AHSAA history
with 3,242 yards. In two years, Webb has rushed for 74 touchdowns and 5,017 yards
He earned MVP honors in the Super 7 Class 5A championship game this past season with a record performance: 51 carries, 359 yards rushing and five touchdowns in 33-13 victory over Wenonah. In his two seasons as a starter for Coach Rob Carter’s Hornets, the team has gone 24-2.
The selection was made by the ASWA Prep Committee, a panel of ASWA member sportswriters who cover high school athletics. Webb finished with 147 points and three first-place votes. Park Crossing wide receiver Malik Cunningham had 132 points and one first place vote, Spanish Fort linebacker Thomas Johnston was third with 116 points, Blount quarterback Kadarius Toney and James Clemens defensive end LaBryan Ray tied for fourth with 113 point, and Maplesville running back Terence Dunlap was sixth with 109. In all, a
record eight finalists received first-place votes from the prep committee
Webb was named the ASWA Class 5A Back of the Year and was chosen to the
group’s Super 12 team. He is also the first junior to win the Mr. Football
award in its history.
In winning the Mr. Football, Webb becomes the third running back to win the
award in the last four years and fourth in the last six, joining T.J. Yeldon of Daphne in 2011, Roc Thomas of Oxford in 2013 and Kerryon Johnson of Madison Academy in 2015.
A total of 48 finalists, three backs and three linemen in each classification with a Back of the Year and Lineman of the Year selected. The individual class players of the year were:
Class 7A: Henry Ruggs III, Lee-Montgomery (Back); LaBryan Ray, James Clemens (Lineman).
Class 6A: Kadarius Toney, Blount (Back); Thomas Johnston, Spanish Fort (Lineman).
Class 5A: La’Damian Webb, Beauregard (Back); Ryan Johnston, St. Paul’s Episcopal (Lineman).
Class 4A: Reed Blankenship, West Limestone (Back); Sterling Jones, Saint James (Lineman).
Class 3A: Taylor Hayes, Piedmont (Back); Mason Langley, Piedmont (Lineman).
Class 2A: JaTarvious Whitlow, LaFayette (Back); Tyler Wilhelm, Fyffe (Lineman).
Class 1A: Terence Dunlap, Maplesville (Back); Brandon Bates, Linden (Lineman).
AISA: Malik Lyons, Chambers Academy (Back); Jakerrius Wyatt, Autauga Academy (Lineman).
The luncheon was live-streamed by the Prattville High School NFHS Network School Broadcast program. It is archived at www.nfhsnetwork.com and available for viewing.
ASWA MR. FOOTBALL RECIPIENTS (1982 – 2016)