MONTGOMERY – Etowah High School Coach Drew Noles says his big 6-foot-6, 240-pound senior defensive end Jamin Graham is not committed – to any college yet.
But he also says, he has never seen a player more committed – to his team and to his grandfather.
Graham turned that commitment into two defensive touchdowns in the final 1:15 of the Blue Devils’ season-opening game versus Gadsden City August 23 as Etowah posted a 32-23 victory.
His granddad, longtime Etowah School System teacher, bus driver and coach James Graham, passed away on August 18. Mr. Graham’s funeral was the next day.
“It was just an amazing effort,” Noles said. “Jamin was extremely close to his grandfather, who was a legend in the town to Attalla. Jasmin dedicate that game to his grandfather. Hs is a great kid from a great family. I think it was the best game of his high school career.”
Jasmin Graham’s performance grabbed the AHSAA Prep Spotlight for the first week of the AHSAA high school football season – a week where outstanding performances were plentiful.
None, however, was more inspiring than his efforts.
Gadsden City, holding a slim 23-20 lead late in the game, had a goal-line stand stopping Etowah on four downs inside the 2-yard line. With 1:15 remaining, the Titans had an errant snap sail into the end zone where Graham was there to recover for an Etowah touchdown.
Coach Bart Sessions’ team then drove quickly into Etowah territory following the kickoff. With eight seconds remaining, however, Graham broke through to sack the runner at the Blue Devils 25-yard line, forcing a fumble that he scooped up and returned for the game’s final touchdown.
Noles said he expected the packed crowd on hand to storm the field in celebration. “Instead, I think they were standing up in awe,” he said. “And Jasmine, well, I was so happy for him that it brought tears to my own eyes. But Jasmin just acted like he’d done this kind of thing many times before.”
The win was the first over Gadsden City since the school was formed by merging Gadsden, Emma Sansom and Litchfield in 2006. The two schools met four times (2006-09) with the Titans winning all four, but discontinued the series until this season.
Graham’s heroics edged out several outstanding efforts, including a super effort by Oxford’s defense in its 28-0 shutout of Munford and Hewitt-Trussville senior quarterback Paul Tyson’s 404-yard passing effort in the Huskies’ 34-30 loss to Cedar Grove (GA) in a game played at Hoover High School and televised live by ESPN. Tyson was 31-of-47 passing with four TD passes.
Coach Ryan Herring’s Oxford defense limited Munford to minus-34 yards on 33 rush attempts and held the Lions to just 50 yards total offense as the Yellow Jackets shut out Munford 28-0 for Oxford’s 22nd straight regular season victory dating back to 2015. Quarterback Trey Higgins connected with 6-4, 220-pound receiver Roc Taylor for eight completions, 149 yards and one score for Oxford. iggins Higgins finished 13-of-18 for 180 yards and two TDs.
Three other quarterbacks, Thompson’s Taulia Tagolailovoa, Hoover’s Robby Ashford and Calera’s Cornelius Brown all passed for 350 or more yards in their season openers. Tagovailova was 26-of-39 passing for 385 yards and four touchdowns in Thompson’s 38-7 Champions Challenge win over James Clemens. He had 309 yards at the half.
Ashford, making his first start as defending Class 7A state champion Hoover’s quarterback, was 23-of-34 with 383 yards and four TDs in the Bucs’ 52-14 win over Pinson Valley – ending the defending Class 6A Indians’ winning streak at 15 games. Brown completed 27-of-48 passes for 357 yards and two TDs in a 45-24 loss to Pelham.
Other highlights for Week Zero included:
JUSTIN TEMPLETON, ASBURY: Ran for two touchdowns as Coach Jeff Powell’s Rams won the first game in program history and christened their new stadium with a 19-7 victory over Brindlee Mountain. The Class 2A school had its first varsity season in 2016 – going 0-10 that year and in 2017.
JACOB LOCKHART, THORSBY: Rushed for 100 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns, one coming on an 85-yard kickoff return, as Thorsby beat Jemison 44-26 for the first win over its Chilton County rival since 1970. More than 2,300 attended the season opener. Jemison holds a 14-2 lead in the series which started in 1968 and was resumed last Friday for the first time since 1995. The Panthers won the previous six meetings (1982, 1983, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995) by a combined score of 244-0.
MAC YOUNG, WHITE PLAINS: Ran for 143 yards with touchdowns of 43 and 29 yards in a 49-18 victory over Vincent. It was the first time White Plains has opened the season with a win since 2013.
TYLER DANZEY, HEADLAND: Danzey tied a state record with two interceptions returned for touchdowns in Headland’s 43-0 win over Straughn. Danzey returned his first interception 46 yards for a score late in the second quarter to put Headland up 30-0. He added a 19 yard interception return for a touchdown in the early moments of the third quarter. Danzey also finished with nine tackles.
MICAH DORSEY, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: The linebacker had eight tackles and an interception in the Eagles’ 35-10 win over New Brockton. His milestone came off the field when he recently scored a perfect 36 on his ACT college entrance exam.
JONATHAN FELL, CARROLL: The running back rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries as Carroll beat Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee 33-6 for Eagles’ 24th straight regular-season win.
ZYQUEZ PERRYMAN, PLEASANT GROVE: Completed 16-of-23 passes for 268 yards and three TDs in a 34-27 victory over Mortimer Jordan.
GRANT THORNTON, ENTERPRISE: Was a near perfect 19-of-20 passing for 266 yards
and three touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 44-21 win over Dothan. He completed the last 16 passes of the game with his only miss coming on his fourth pass attempt in the game’s opening series.
WILL BAILEY, DAR: Was 19-of-28 passing for 251 yards and rushed for 87 yards as the Patriots rolled up more than 500 yards total offense in a 58-33 setback to Westminster Christian.
TRENTIN DUPPER, DECATUR: Passed for 224 yards and four touchdowns covering 17, 37, 29 and 34 yards in the Red Raider’ 38-21 win over Huntsville.
LUKE JACKSON, JACKSONVILLE: Passed for 219 yards and three touchdowns with a 10-of-15 performance as the Golden Eagles beat J.B. Pennington 34-21.
BO NIX, PINSON VALLEY: Completed 20-of-41 passes for 210 yards and one TD in a 52-14 loss to Hoover.
BRETT NEZAT, SARALAND: Making his first start at quarterback for the Spartans, he passed for 201 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 41-3 win over Andalusia.
REECE SOLAR, ALABAMA CHRISTIAN: Was 17-of-26 passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown for 301 total yards in a 35-22 loss to Saks. He also had three punts, averaging 54 yards with his longest going for 60 yards.
STROTHER GIBBS, MOUNTAIN BROOK: Completed 11-of-15 for 174 yards and a TD and added another 51 yards rushing and two TDs in a 30-14 victory over Northridge.
KALVIN LEVETT, TALLASSEE: Completed 8-of-14 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 20 times for 146 yards and a 38-yard TD as the Tigers downed Montgomery Catholic 28-7.
COLE SAUNDERS, GENEVA COUNTY: The Bulldogs quarterback accounted for 244 yards and four scores, including two in the second half to help Geneva County rally past Samson 41-33. He completed 6-of-7 passes for 164 yards, including a 65-yard TD pass to Colby Fuller, and added 80 yards rushing on 21 carries with TD runs of 14, 7 and 3 yards, including the final two scores of the game in the comeback win.
DAMARIUS JENKINS, DALE COUNTY: Warrior quarterback accounted for 200 yards and three touchdowns in Dale County’s 41-19 win over Ariton. He completed 4-of-8 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 26 yards on four carries with one touchdown.
BRYCE PALMER, WATERLOO: Threw for 195 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-7 win over Woodville. Palmer also intercepted two passes on defense, returning one 52 yards for a touchdown.
EASTIN HARDIN, BOAZ: Was 10-of-17 passing for 191 yards and one TD in the Pirates’ 42-17 win over Arab.
TYQUAN RAWLS, WETUMPKA: Becoming the starter after All-State quarterback J.D. Martin’s pre-season injury, Rawls completed 9-of-15 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-17 win over Fairhope.
JACKSON COX, WESTBROOK CHRISTIAN: Completed 7-of-12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown in the Warriors’ 35-6 victory over Coosa Christian.
TONY FRANKLIN, LEE-MONTGOMERY: Had 168 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 26-15 win over Park Crossing.
COLE WALES, CLEMENTS: Completed 10-of-22 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns (12, 25 and 18 yards), added a 2-point conversion pass and made an interception on defense in the Colts’ 29-0 win at Elkmont.
A.J. PHILLIPS, CHICKASAW: Had 14 rush attempts for 275 yards and three touchdowns in Chickasaw’s 32-12 win over Resurrection Catholic (MS). He also returned an interception 40 yards for a fourth score.
SHAMAR SPINKS, WEAVER: Needed just 17 carries to pile up 265 yards rushing Friday night as the Bearcats ran past Cleburne County 49-35. Spinks scored three touchdowns and teammate Robert Gaines added 113 rushing yards, 136 passing and two TDs. Spinks scored on runs of 1, 54 and 53 yards. Gaines threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Josh Lowe and an 8-yard opposite-hander to Caleb Allison.
MEL DANTSLER, GRISSOM: The workhorse running back had 38 rush attempts for 249 yards and four touchdowns (10, 3, 10 and 5 yards) in a 26-21 win over Hazel Green.
NOAH TURBYFILL, BROOKS: Rushed 11 times for 255 yards and three scores, returned an interception 64 yards for another touchdown and recovered a botched punt in the end zone for a fifth TD as the Lions beat Lauderdale Count 55-0.
CHRISTIAN COLLINS, BOAZ: The senior rushed for 243 yards on 29 carries and scored four touchdowns to lead Boaz to a 42-17 win over Arab in the season opener for both teams. Collins scored touchdowns on runs of 49, 3, 3, and 12.
NICK MARTINDALE, WEST LIMESTONE: Had 29 carries for 237 yards and four touchdowns on runs of 6, 34, 4 and 26 yards in a season-opening win over Tanner 39-20.
RISHARD DENSMORE, BESSEMER CITY: Gained 191 yards rushing, 150 in the second half, and rushed for two touchdowns in a 21-14 victory over Huffman He also passed for 94 yards and one score to account for 285 of the team's 336 yards of total offense.
CLAY CRAFTON, ROGERS: Ran 21 times for 174 yards and three touchdown as Rogers beat Loretto (TN) 35-14.
JOSH MARTIN, MARY MONTGOMERY: Rushed for 173 yards on 31 carries and scored two touchdowns as the Vikings snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 14-0 win over Robertsdale.
JALEN HENDERSON, SPAIN PARK: Ran 31 times for 172 yards and scored two TDs in a 24-14 victory over Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa.
IAN THIES, WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN: Ran for 163 yards and two scores on 10 carries, and completed 9-of-17 passes for 162 yards and two TDs in a 58-33 win at DAR.
CAMERON FAISON, REELTOWN: Scored every touchdown for the Rebels in s 35-8 win over Bullock County. He ran for 155 yards and four touchdowns and returned a kickoff 75 yards for his fifth score.
SYMON SMITH, UMS-WRIGHT: Picked up 151 yards rushing on 38 carries and scored the game's only touchdown as UMS-Wright defeated St. Paul's 10-0 in the Battle of Old Shell Road. UMS-Wright won the Class 4A state title last season and St. Paul’s won the 5A state crown.
CARSON PETREE, THARPTOWN: Rushed 10 times for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns, threw a TD pass and caught a TD pass as Tharptown knocked off Shoals Christian 41-30.
KEON HORNSBY, SAMSON: Rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and added a 5-yard TD reception in the Tigers’ 41-33 loss to Geneva County.
TERRANCE WEBSTER, CARVER-MONTGOMERY: Had 16 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns in a 19-3 win over Jeff Davis.
TRE AUSMER, HOMEWOOD: Caught four passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 18-7 victory over Hueytown.
JA’VARRIOUS JOHNSON, HEWIT-TRUSSVILLE: Snared 11 catches for 151 yards and two TDs in the Huskies’ 34-30 loss to Cedar Grove (GA).
JAEDEN BARKSDALE, JACKSONVILLE: Caught five passes for 128 yards and two TDs (40 and 81 yards) in the Eagles’ 34-21 win over J.B. Pennington.
ROYDELL WILLIAMS, HUEYTOWN: Caught seven passes for 127 yards and a 28-yard score in the Gophers’ 18-7 loss to Homewood. He also rushed for 51 yards on 16 carries.
TAYLOR SMITH, BOAZ: Caught four passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns covering 33 and 18 yards in the Pirates’ 42-17 win over Boaz.
MICHAEL PETTWAY, THOMPSON: The junior receiver had five catches for 118 yards and two scores, both coming in the first quarter, covering 27 and 53 yards, in the Warriors’ 38-7 win over James Clemens at the Champions Challenge played at Cramton Bowl.
KEYONTEZE JOHNSON, PINSON VALLEY: Pulled down 11 receptions for 119 yards and a TD in the Indians’ 52-14 loss to Hoover.
SIDNEY WILLIAMS, VIGOR: Hauled in three touchdown passes covering 14, 36 and 62 yards as the Wolves snapped a three-year losing streak to arch-rival Blount 19-6.
JIMMY PITTS, NOTASULGA: Had two pass receptions for 87 yards and two scores, returned a punt 36 yards for a TD and also had an interception on defense to lead the Blue Devils to a 46-7 win over Barbour County.
CHRISTOPHER HOLIFIELD, LEFLORE: Caught five passes for 97 yards and one TD, had 51 yards rushing and also returned an interception 43 yards for a score in a 26-14 win over B.C. Rain. He finished with two interceptions and had another nullified on a penalty.
JEFFREY LIGHTNER, DALE COUNTY: Had 13 tackles, an interception and an 81-yard kickoff return in the Warriors’ 41-19 win over Ariton. Teammate Avery Beasley also had 13 tackles and Tanner Mathis had 11.
CONNER GERMAN & DRE NEWMAN, HEADLAND: German was in on 15 tackles and Newman earned nine tackles in the Rams’ 43-0 win over Straughn.
A.J. CHERRY, SHEFFIELD: Swiped two interceptions to help preserve Sheffield’s 22-7 win over Wilson.
BRANDON BUTTS, PRATTVILLE: Blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt and returned it 51 yards for the senior defensive back's first career touchdown in the Lions' 37-0 win over Foley.
SAMUEL ADKINSON, GENEVA COUNTY: Returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown and recorded 10 tackles, including four solos, in a 41-33 win over Samson.
DYLAN BONNER, ASHFORD: Recorded 10 tackles, and forced a fumble in the Yellow Jackets’ 31-7 win over Rehobeth. Teammate Noah Jackson also had 10 stops on defense and added 89 yards rushing.
J’DARIUS WASHINGTON, LEE-MONTGOMERY: Returned an interception 35 yards for a TD in the Generals’ 26-15 win over Park Crossing.
JACKSON COLLEY & WILL SOLOMON, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: Both returned interceptions for touchdowns, helping the Eagles to a 35-10 win over New Brockton. Colley finished with seven tackles and Solomon five.
PHILLIP DUKE, PELHAM: Intercepted two passes and added four tackles in a 45-24 victory over Calera.
TIMOTHY KEENAN, RAMSAY: The Rams’ defensive lineman intercepted a pass and anchored a stingy defense in a 13-8 victory over Minor.
DIEGO GUAJARDO, DAPHNE: Kicked three field goals, an extra point and added a 12-yard run on a fake field-goal try as Daphne knocked off Theodore 16-13.
JASON PEREZ, COLLINSVILLE: Connected on two 38-yard field goal attempts, an extra point, and had three punts totaling 94 yards in the Panthers’ 13-0 victory over Plainview. The two DeKalb County teams were meeting for the first time since 1979. He also booted two of his three kickoffs into the end zone and the other sailed to the 5-yard line.
CHRISTIAN HERNANDEZ, DALE COUNTY: Kicked two field goals (43 and 28 yards) and converted three point-after kicks in the Warriors’ 41-19 win over Ariton.
LARRY McCAMMON, HOOVER: Returned a kickoff 91 yards for a score in the Bucs’ 52-14 victory over Pinson Valley.
ROBERT MARSH, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: Scored Central’s first TD on an 80-yard kickoff return as the Red Devils went on to score five different ways in a 42-18 win over Benjamin Mays of Atlanta in the Cam Newton Classic. The Red Devils also scored on a 69-yard pass, a 65-yard run, a blocked punt and a 27-yard interception return.
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.
37 AHSAA Events Set for NFHS Network through August 27
Champions Challenge Classic Headlines AHSAA First Week of Prep Football Action on TV
MONTGOMERY – Raycom Sports and the NFHS Network kick off the AHSAA’s 2018-19 school year Thursday night with the first game of the 13th annual Champions Challenge Classic at Cramton Bowl. The NFHS Network plans 37 events total for the first weekend of the new school year – including middle school and junior high football and volleyball.
Raycom, which will televise live on its D-2 (Bounce) channel over its Raycom Network of stations across the state, will have Graham Dunn and Christina Chambers behind the mikes. Thursday’s football battle pits the defending Class 1A defending state champion Sweet Water Bulldogs and 2017 Class 3A semifinalist Clarke County (11-3). Friday’s final Champions Challenge contest features Thompson (12-1), a Class 7A semifinalist in 2017, and Class 7A James Clemens. Both games kick off at 7 p.m., and both will also be live-streamed over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based network. The links can be found at www.ahsaa.com and at www.nfhsnetwork.com.
The AHSAA Radio Network will broadcast both games over its network of radio affiliates across the state and will be available via the internet via www.ahsaa.com. The Radio Network will also provide the NFHS Network audio.
The NFHS Network has eight AHSAA football games and two volleyball matches scheduled to be live-streamed Thursday night. Friday’s schedule has 18 football games scheduled and five more on Saturday. The headliner outside the Champions Challenge games is Saturday’s battle between defending Class 6A state champion Pinson Valley (15-0) and defending Class 7A champion Hoover (11-3). Kickoff for that game is set for 11 a.m. at Hoover Stadium.
Three AHSAA teams will be playing in Atlanta on Saturday with all games set for the NFHS Network thanks to the Atlanta Public School NFHS Network School Broadcast Program. Sidney Lanier plays Westlake at 2 p.m., Clay-Chalkville takes on Griffin (GA) at 4 p.m. and Central-Phenix City faces Benjamin Mays (GA) at 7 p.m.
Hoover and Vestavia Hills are scheduled to play the first varsity volleyball match of the season over the AHSAA’s NFHS Network School Broadcast Program. The Bucs and Rebs tip off Thursday at 7 p.m. at HHS. Geneva and Kinston have a match set for the NFHS Network on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Andalusia and Saraland are each broadcasting Friday’s football contest over the NFHS Network. Opelika goes to Callaway (GA) Friday with both schools also planning to live-stream the contest via the NFHS Network SBP.
NFHS Network subscribers will have access to all the games. To subscribe to the NFHS Network, click on: http://watch.nfhsnetwork.com/rewards-signup/.
The complete schedule for this weekend on the NFHS Network is listed.
NFHS NETWORK SCHEDULE OF AHSAA EVENTS
THURSDAY, August 23
VOLLEYBALL Producer Air Time
Vestavia Hills JV at Hoover JV Hoover HS SBP 5 p.m.
Vestavia Hills vs. Hoover (varsity) Hoover HS SBP 6:30 p.m.
FOOTBALL Producer Air Time
Clarke County vs. Sweet Water AHSAA/NFHS Net 7 p.m.
Brooks at Lauderdale County Brooks HS SBP 7 p.m.
Carver-Montgomery vs. Jeff Davis NFHS Montgomery Net 7 p.m.
Dothan at Enterprise Enterprise HS SBP 7 p.m.
Jasper at Cullman Cullman HS SBP 7 p.m.
Muscle Shoals at Deshler Muscle Shoals HS SBP 6:45 p.m.
Hewitt-Trussville 7th at Hoover Hoover HS SBP 5 p.m.
Hewitt-Trussville 8th at Hoover Hoover HS SBP 6:45 p.m.
FRIDAY, August 24
FOOTBALL Producer Air Time
Thompson vs. James Clemens AHSAA 7 p.m.
Andalusia at Saraland Saraland HS SBP 6:30 p.m.
Andalusia at Saraland Andalusia HS SBP 7 p.m.
Austin at Hartselle Hartselle HS SBP 7 p.m.
Blackman (TN) at Florence Florence HS SBP 6:45 p.m.
Early Co. (GA) at Eufaula Eufaula HS SBP 7 p.m.
East Limestone at Russellville Russellville HS SBP 7 p.m.
Gardendale at Mae Jemison Gardendale HS SBP 7 p.m.
Handley at LaFayette NFHS (Eagle 102.3) SBP 6:30 p.m.
Jacksonville at JB Pennington Jacksonville HS SBP 7 p.m.
Oak Mountain at Chelsea Chelsea HS SBP 7 p.m.
Opelika at Callaway (GA) Opelika HS SBP 6 p.m.
Park Crossing vs. Lee-Montgomery BTW Magnet HS SBP 7 p.m.
Red Bay at Colbert Heights Colbert Heights HS SBP 6:30 p.m.
Russell County vs. Smiths Station Smiths Station HS SBP 7 p.m.
Spain Park at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa Hillcrest HS SBP 6:45 p.m.
Spanish Fort at McGill-Toolen Catholic Spanish Fort HS SBP 7 p.m.
Tuscaloosa County at Demopolis Demopolis HS SBP 7 p.m.
Wilcox Central at Auburn Auburn HS SBP 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, August 25
VOLLEYBALL Producer Air Time
Geneva at Kinston Geneva HS SBP 4 p.m.
FOOTBALL Producer Air Time
Briarwood at Vestavia Hills FR. Vestavia Hills HS SBP 6 p.m.
Briarwood at Vestavia Hills VAR Vestavia Hills HS SBP 7 p.m.
Central-Phenix City vs. B. Mays (GA) Atlanta PS SBP 7 p.m.
Clay-Chalkville vs. Griffin (GA) Atlanta PS SBP 4 p.m.
Pinson Valley at Hoover Hoover HS SBP 11 a.m.
Sidney Lanier at Westlake (GA) Atlanta PS SBP 2 p.m.
MONDAY, August 27
FOOTBALL Producer Air Time
Central-Phenix City at Auburn JV Auburn HS SBP 5 p.m.
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.”
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