Page 1

✊

The Anniston Star

kickoff Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Area high school football preview

Building

a program Clay County, Lineville embark on final season before consolidation


Page 2 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beginning

The Anniston Star

OF THE

By Bran Strickland bstrickland@annistonstar.com

P

CLAY COUNTY

icture day is typically a big day for the parents, just another day for the players and a necessary evil for the coaches. But not this year at Clay County, the smiles had a touch of sadness. “There were people from the community that showed up to take their own pictures,” Panther coach Kris Herron said. “They just wanted to come out because it’ll be the last time there will ever be a team picture made.” The last picture day, the last first day of practice, and looming just around the corner, the last season opener for both teams. And somewhere rooted in this upcoming season will be the final game.

Clay County, Lineville prepare to close chapters with new consolidated school set to open

Please see COVER ❙ Page 11

Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star/File

Clay County celebrates its Class 1A state championship in 2002. The Panthers are set to kickoff their final season as the school will be closed in May with the students consolidated with rival Lineville for the new school, Central High School of Clay County.


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 3

ta b le o f c o n t e n t s School

Page

ASD Warriors

15

School

Page

Ragland Purple Devils

14 28

Cherokee County Warriors

9

Ranburne Bulldogs

Clay County Panthers

6

Randolph County Tigers

8

Cleburne County Tigers

18

Spring Garden Panthers

20

Handley Tigers

22

Talladega Tigers

29

Lincoln Golden Bears

24

TC Central Fighting Tigers

10

Wadley Bulldogs

25

Woodland Bobcats

27

Lineville Aggies

7

Munford Lions

26

Saturday Sports Injury Clinic August 20th through the Playoffs 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Cover photo, taken by Star photographer Stephen Gross, is of construction at the new high school in Clay County where two existing schools will be consolidated next year.

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The Anniston Star

Page 4 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2 0 1 0 final region standings Teams play in the same regional alignment in the 2011 season CLASS 6A, REGION 7 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. Gadsden City 6 1 213 120 9 4 286 221 2. Hewitt-Trussville 5 2 141 96 9 3 258 195 3. Oxford 5 2 202 135 7 5 295 245 4. Clay-Chalkville 5 2 188 117 9 4 355 260 Austin 4 3 172 223 4 6 250 345 Pell City 1 6 119 216 4 6 248 249 Huffman 1 6 84 154 3 7 147 187 Shades Valley 1 6 153 211 1 9 206 317 CLASS 5A, REGION 5 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. Briarwood 7 0 270 83 13 2 444 193 2. Chelsea 6 1 251 149 8 3 348 211 3. Sylacauga 5 2 294 134 8 3 455 201 4. Pinson Valley 4 3 184 194 5 6 287 284 Erwin 3 4 181 178 5 5 242 236 Shelby Co. 2 5 148 225 2 8 200 336 Talladega 1 6 97 258 1 9 128 367 Moody 0 7 88 292 0 10 113 442 CLASS 4A, REGION 7 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. North Jackson 7 0 340 80 13 1 644 198 2. Fairview 6 1 236 142 10 2 409 258 3. Guntersville 5 2 174 107 7 4 264 209 4. Cherokee Co. 4 3 222 215 5 6 317 338 Crossville 3 4 180 153 6 4 282 217 DAR 1 6 112 292 2 8 147 388 Douglas 1 6 130 278 2 8 186 395 Butler 1 6 200 327 1 9 260 450 CLASS 4A, REGION 6 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. Anniston 7 0 301 119 10 3 469 250 2. Cleburne Co. 5 2 247 165 9 3 389 254 3. Oneonta 4 3 235 203 8 4 409 339 4. Alexandria 4 3 156 154 6 5 235 254 St. Clair Co. 4 3 204 162 6 4 301 205 Springville 3 4 228 236 3 7 262 373 Jacksonville 1 6 167 292 2 8 240 412 Locust Fork 0 7 77 284 0 10 104 344 CLASS 4A, REGION 3 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. Dadeville 7 0 256 135 12 1 444 243 2. Beauregard 6 1 262 106 8 4 375 241 3. Holtville 5 2 216 170 7 4 362 283 4. Calera 4 3 159 161 6 5 283 244 Elmore Co. 3 4 169 181 4 6 249 260 Munford 2 5 193 273 3 7 254 358 Lincoln 1 6 147 179 1 9 204 295 Childersburg 0 7 53 250 1 9 103 351 CLASS 3A, REGION 3 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. Leeds 7 0 261 39 15 0 547 111 2. Handley 6 1 280 76 10 2 455 163 3. Clay Co. 5 2 160 53 8 4 281 155 4. Walter Wellborn 4 3 179 135 6 5 308 233 Marbury 3 4 173 224 6 4 272 297 B.B. Comer 2 5 138 248 2 8 185 340 Beulah 1 6 102 313 3 7 170 352 Central-Coosa 0 7 83 288 1 9 130 372

CLASS 2A, REGION 6 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. Westbrook Chr. 8 0 311 75 10 1 388 151 2. Fyffe 7 1 277 76 9 2 331 109 3. Ider 6 2 254 115 7 4 316 178 4. Pleasant Valley 4 4 191 149 5 6 252 240 Sand Rock 4 4 161 145 5 5 210 201 North Sand Mtn. 4 4 170 206 4 6 211 268 Section 2 6 190 330 3 7 260 400 Ohatchee 1 7 59 260 2 8 116 310 Victory Chr. 0 8 75 332 0 9 87 378 CLASS 2A, REGION 5 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. Reeltown 7 0 211 35 13 2 469 172 2. Lineville 6 1 272 73 10 4 469 194 3. Woodland 5 2 240 115 9 3 383 210 4. Horseshoe Bend 3 4 141 208 5 6 268 287 Ranburne 3 4 120 189 6 4 205 228 Randolph Co. 3 4 136 198 5 5 212 237 LaFayette 1 6 88 248 1 9 137 324 Lanett 0 7 68 210 1 9 102 289

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CLASS 1A, REGION 7 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. $-Collinsville 7 0 275 65 9 2 387 160 2. Cedar Bluff 6 1 353 56 9 3 521 173 3. $-Gaylesville 5 2 146 130 6 5 183 231 4. $-Gaston 4 3 141 185 5 6 204 318 $-Spring Garden 3 4 76 156 3 7 103 233 Valley Head 2 5 137 246 3 7 196 356 $-Woodville 1 6 80 265 2 8 123 351 $-Skyline 0 7 22 127 0 9 28 134 CLASS 1A, REGION 6 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. Ragland 6 1 225 62 9 3 328 105 2. Appalachian 6 1 252 65 8 3 328 158 3. Donoho 5 2 182 133 8 3 292 203 4. Jacksonville Chr. 4 3 197 124 7 4 306 203 Coosa Chr. 4 3 221 130 4 6 282 259 Parkway Chr. 2 5 78 206 4 5 125 234 Akron 1 6 50 223 2 7 82 257 Jefferson Chr. 0 7 27 289 0 10 48 417 CLASS 1A, REGION 3 Region Overall W L PF PA W L PF PA 1. St. Jude 7 0 315 48 11 2 454 134 2. Loachapoka 5 2 223 95 6 5 275 223 3. Wadley 5 2 253 116 5 6 310 258 4. Notasulga 4 3 193 180 5 6 226 332 Winterboro 4 3 203 140 7 3 271 173 Verbena 2 5 126 262 3 7 170 361 Talladega Co. C. 1 6 91 263 1 9 133 402 Fayetteville 0 7 35 335 1 9 74 431 Legend: 1., 2., etc.-team’s region seed. $-records include forfeits by Skyline (failure to play). Point totals reflect actual scores, if applicable.

Dr. Kenneth Vandervoort

Dr. Gordon Hardy

Anniston Orthopaedics wishes to recognize and congratulate

Dr. Kenneth Vandervoort and Dr. Gordon Hardy on their achievement of Sports Medicine Certification from the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. This additional education enhances the treatment that Anniston Orthopaedics can provide to area athletes and their family members.

Anniston Orthopaedic Associates, P.A. Gordon T. Hardy, M.D John R. Payne, M.D. Michael R. Wiedmer, M.D Kenneth L. Vandervoort, M.D. Duane D. Tippets, M.D. C. Herbert McCrimmon, M.D


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 5

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The Anniston Star

Page 6 Wednesday, August 17, 2011 C l ay C o u n t y | pa n t h e r s

Growing, opening up Maturity of Simmons to help Panthers become more diverse By Bran Strickland

I Terry Lamb/The Anniston Star/File

Clay County quarterback Shawncey Simmons could be pulling it down to run less often this season, giving the Panthers’ offense more diversity.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Kris Herron Class, Region: 3A, 3 Fast fact: Last year’s 8-4 mark was the first time the Panthers didn’t win at least 10 games since 2004.

2010 Record (overall, region): 8-4, 5-2 Points scored: 23.4 (avg.) Points allowed: 12.9 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sch e d u l e Date.............. Opponent ........ Location 08/26........Randolph County................H 09/02................Beulah*.........................H 09/09.................Leeds*..........................H 09/16.............. Handley *....................... A 09/23............... Lineville........................H 09/30............ B.B. Comer*..................... A 10/07..............Wellborn*....................... A 10/14.............. Marbury*.......................H 10/21......... Central-Coosa*.................. A 10/28...................Saks............................ A * denotes region contest

bstrickland@annistonstar.com

ASHLAND t’s hard for a person not to do what comes natural to them. And it’s especially hard for someone not to do what they do so well. But so far this preseason, Shawncey Simmons is doing it. And that’s making Clay County coach Kris Herron very pleased. “Now, he’s not been under the gun with the lights on a Friday night,” Herron said of his senior quarterback, “but in practice so far, he doesn’t pull it down to run it as quick. “He kind of has a better understanding of the routes and the depth — he’s giving those receivers another second to make that break and break open.” And believe it or not — tradition would say not — that’s exactly what Clay County wants to do this season as the Panthers look to improve on last season’s 8-4 mark in the final season as Clay County High before they’re consolidated with Lineville into Central-Clay County High. Simmons was thrust into action as a freshman in the Super Six after an injury. In the time since, he’s gone front strictly a running back under center to a more capable passer. Herron said the new offensive philosphy isn’t going to be drastic, but because of personnel issues — some good, some not so good — the decision to air it out a little more than in years past is just what was needed for the offense. Senior Jamara Staples (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) returns at receiver, as does Devin Gaddis, both of whom Herron notes are very capable at the position. But on the flip side of that, in very nonPanther form, there’s a lack of bruising running wishbone backs fans of the blueclad bunch have grown accustomed to since the Danny Horn-era began. But at the end of the day, Herron notes that the decision to increase their average from fewer than 10 pass attempts a game is

“I think he understands now we’re not asking him to make every play.” — Clay County coach Kris Herron on QB Shawncey Simmons mostly because of Simmons’ maturity and a desire for more balance. “You can just tell he’s experienced,” Herron said. “I think he understands now we’re not asking him to make every play — obviously being the athlete he is, there’s plays for him — he understands now there’s guys around him, and he doesn’t have to do it all by himself ... they can help him carry that load.” Alongside Simmons in the backfield is speedy senior Lamar Jones and Travis Smith, a junior. Just as Simmons knows he’ll have to have help, that same thought process will bleed over onto the defensive side of the ball. With Joe Meek, Jayland Ackles and Rob Smith returning on the defensive line, Herron said he feels that could be the stregnth of the team. And with other situations, he hopes it is. Travis Smith is the only returning linebacker and late in camp, Herron said the Panthers were still unsure about the other spot in the 5-2 defense. “It’s a huge help having those three guys up there — especially against the run,” Herron said. “... maybe we’ll get some pretty good play out of them for those first couple of games to let those linebackers grow into that role they’re going to have to play.” Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-2353570 or follow him on Twitter @bran_ strickland.


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 7 L i n e v i ll e | A g g i e s

Depth of differences Aggies talented, but thin as they prepare for another playoff run By Bran Strickland bstrickland@annistonstar.com

F

LINEVILLE or the Aggies, last year was about as good as it gets for a football coach. A sizeable core group of players had been relied upon as freshman, took their lumps over the years, and by the time they were seniors, led the team in a deep playoff run. While that run ended with a loss to Reeltown — the second close loss to the Blue Devils of the season — one win away from a state championship berth, there was no mistaking what the Aggies had accomplished. Seven times they held opponents to fewer than 10 points. Seven different times the offense scored more than 40. The loss of those experienced players leave behind gaping holes and “a lot of unknowns,” Lineville coach Steve Giddens said. But despite the holes and unknowns, the cupboard is far from bare — 15 of the past 17 seasons with at least eight wins should tell that story. But last year’s situation was unique — and certainly not one a coach can have every year. In addition to the talent, there was talented depth, as Giddens described, “you couldn’t tell who the starter was,” he said. This year, however, it’ll be clear. “After the opening kickoff, the guys that we trot out there are older, experienced guys,” Giddens said. “Even the guys who haven’t started, they’ve at least been around a while. “But after those, after about 12, 13, 14 guys, we’re really very young and very inexperienced.” Taking the same track as many of last year’s seniors, Demetrius Lindsey is ready to write the final chapter on his football career. As a starter since the eighth grade, last year the quarterback put together his best season yet as he

“He’s certainly as good of a quarterback as anybody will have.” — Lineville coach Steve Giddens on Demetrius Lindsey

accounted for 1,981 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing and passing. “He’s certainly as good of a quarterback as anybody will have,” Giddens said. “You can tell he’s grown up, very mature — I’m real proud of him.” Alongside Lindsey are more talented skill players Lashamian Battle (DB/WR), Curtis Hunter (RB/OLB). The line has help, too, with Trovon Bell, a third-year starter, and Stephen Henry, who came on to start late last season and could do big things. With Giddens calling a half-dozen players like Lindsey and Bell “grizzled veterans,” he’ll be looking for them to take up the slack — or put up so many points it won’t matter — while the younger players come along. For all those big things and big players, the unknowns are always bigger in Giddens’ mind. And the evidence of inexperience has already started to show in the team’s demeanor — the hardest among things to coach. “I told them the other day at practice, I can almost sense that our older guys — our more experienced guys — can tell that it’s getting close to game time. The rest of them aren’t right now,” he said. “So, I can certainly sense the difference.” Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256235-3570 or follow him on Twitter @ bran_strickland.

Terry Lamb/The Anniston Star/File

Demetrius Lindsey returns at quarterback for the Aggies and looks to improve on last season where he just narrowly missed the 2,000-yard mark.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Steve Giddens Class, Region: 2A, 5 Fast fact: Lineville won the last Clay Bowl ever played at their home stadium and hold the series lead.

2010 Record (overall, region): 10-4, 6-1 Points scored: 33.9 (avg.) Points allowed: 13.9 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sch e d u l e Date................. Opponent ............Location 08/26........... Cleburne County.....................H 09/02.................Ranburne*.......................... A 09/09................. LaFayette*.......................... A 09/16....................Lanett*.............................H 09/23................Clay County......................... A 09/30................ Woodland*.......................... A 10/07.......... Randolph County*...................H 10/14........... Horseshoe Bend*.................... A 10/21................. Reeltown*..........................H 10/28...................Handley............................H * denotes region contest


The Anniston Star

Page 8 Wednesday, August 17, 2011 randolph county | tigers

Recipe for winning Sparks, Tigers hope to ride experience into playoffs By Al Muskewitz

C

amuskewitz@annistonstar.com

oaches like to say their teams make the most improvement in a season between the first and second games, so it just stands to reason the same should hold true from Year One to Year Two. At least that’s what Randolph County football coach Randy Sparks is banking on as he and the Tigers embark on their second season together. Sparks came over from Wadley and last year directed a program that endured three straight 3-7 seasons to a 5-5 campaign. The team tied for the region’s final playoff spot, but lost the tiebreaker. With a little more confidence and time, Sparks believes they could have had a little better year. With the idea of learning how to win taking root now, the Tigers can go about taking the next step. “We certainly hope we’ve made huge strides between Year One and Year Two,” Sparks said. “I know our strength and conditioning has improved, we are one year older and we return most of our players. Those are three things that come to my mind I know have gotten better.” There certainly is no substitute for experience, and the Tigers have plenty. They return eight starters on offense and nine starters on defense — only a few who play both ways — and a stronglegged kicker, putting them way ahead of where Sparks was when he went into Year Two at Wadley on his way to making that program a Class 1A force. What they also have back, after a brief hiatus, is a state championship-winning coach as part of the braintrust. Pat Prestridge, who coached Randolph County to its state title in 2003, will be Sparks’ defensive coordinator. Ty Sparks, the coach’s son, will be in his first season as the starting quarterback as a sophomore, but he already has three years of varsity experience.

“Hopefully, being a year better, older and stronger will make a difference.” — Randy Sparks, Randolph County coach

“I think he’s ready for it,” the elder Sparks said. “He played very well for us in a backup role last year, and he understands what we’re trying to do on offense because he’s been around it all his life. He’s definitely ready mentally, and I think physically, too.” If the Tigers had a weakness last year, it was an inability to establish the run and were still sorting it out early in camp. “We sure are working on it,” Sparks said. “Hopefully, being a year better, older and stronger will make a difference.” It should help that they’ll have a veteran offensive line anchored by center Daniel DeJesus (6-2, 290) and tackles Jamey Ware (6-4, 260) and Tyler Johnson (6-1, 260). With Prestridge’s presence, a slightly different approach and an abundance of athleticism, the Tigers have a chance to be as strong as ever defensively. It starts up front with tackles Ware and George Moore. Leading tackler Tyde Moore returns to anchor the linebacking corps and Bill Miamen and Cortavious Childs are their most-experienced players in the secondary. Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the high school game is kicking, but the Tigers have a good one in Austin Macginnis, a junior. He hit all of his PATs and missed only two long field goal attempts, but Sparks said he’s accurate from 55 yards and in.

Trent Penny/The Anniston Star/File

Randy Sparks is in his second season with the Tigers and is in the process of turning the program around.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Randy Sparks Class, Region: 2A, 5 Fast fact: In Sparks’ 15 years at Wadley, he led the Bulldogs to 11 straight playoff berths.

2010 Record (overall, region): 5-5, 3-4 (playoffs 2nd round) Points scored: 21.2 (avg.) Points allowed: 23.7 (avg.)

2011 schedule

Date...................Opponent ...........Location 08/26.................Clay County........................ A 09/02.................. LaFayette*.........................H 09/09............ Horseshoe Bend*...................H 09/16.................. Reeltown*......................... A 09/23.................. TC Central.........................H 09/30..................Ranburne*.........................H 10/07................... Lineville*.......................... A 10/14..................... Lanett*............................H 10/21..................Woodland*........................ A 10/28.....................Wadley............................ A * denotes region contest


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 9 C h e ro k e e C o u n t y | Wa r r i o r s

Anchored progress Warriors’ coaching staff grounded, expectations high BY NICK BIRDSONG

T

nbirdsong@annistonstar.com

here’s a lot to be said for stability. The summer following its 2009 Class 4A state championship, Cherokee County lost its offensive coordinator Will Wagnon to a head coaching position at Munford. Defensive coordinator Nathan Wehunt missed the entire summer with the 2010 squad, entertaining a move elsewhere before returning. The result was a topsy-turvy campaign during which the Warriors produced a losing record, going 5-6 and being bounced out of the playoffs by eventual state-finalist Deshler. “We also lost 18 seniors who were hard to replace,” coach Tripp Curry said of the difficulties facing his 2010 team. “It wasn’t until about the fourth or fifth game that we had guys playing in the right spot.” Heading in the 2011 season, Curry said the Warriors have solidarity among its coaching staff with former Jacksonville State standout Fran Blanchard, father of current Gamecock and 2009 Mr. Football award-winner Coty, in his second year guiding the offense. “I think things are going good,” said Curry, who’ll enter his 11th season this fall. “We’ve had a pretty productive year as far as the coaches are concerned. I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.” Senior linebacker Patrick Lowe and wide receiver Michael Burleson are the only remaining starters from the championship team two years ago. However, the confidence that comes with knowing your team has recently hoisted a blue-mapped trophy is still present and the usual expectations of success still reside in Centre. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Lowe has made the transition from middle to outside linebacker. It’s just one of a host of changes the Warriors have made on that side of the ball after giving up an average of more than 30 points a game.

“Anytime a team beats us, they’re going to have a tough time.” — Tripp Curry, Cherokee County coach

Sophomore Tae Rooks, who played tailback as a freshman, will still get some carries but will be used primarily on defense as a linebacker because “he’s just a headhunter,” Curry said. “As a sophomore, I was on one of the best defenses I’ve seen in high school,” Lowe said. “All I had to do was smile and go and hit somebody. Now, I have to make calls out there and people look to me for leadership.” After Brett Burgess took over for Coty a year ago before signing a baseball scholarship to Snead State Community College, Curry will entrust his offense to junior Tanner Young. Curry thinks the Warriors just may have found their next great quarterback since Coty, who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns and rushed for more than 1,100 yards as a senior. “Tanner is coming along really well,” Curry said. “We’ve had a lot of good quarterbacks at Centre and he could fit in right with them. He’s 6-3, 190-pounds and he’s got a cannon for an arm.” It’s a new era in Centre, but you can expect the same effort they’ve been known for over the years when they step onto the field this season. “In Centre, we’ve got hard-nosed kids,” Curry said. “They expect to win. Anytime a team beats us, they’re going to have a tough time.” Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-2353575.

Trent Penny/The Anniston Star/File

Tae Rooks, left, is only a sophomore, but Cherokee County coach Tripp Curry sees promise in the young player at the linebacker position.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Tripp Curry Class, Region: 4A, 7 Fast fact: Last year was the first losing season for the Warriors since Curry’s first season (2001, 1-9).

2010 Record (overall, region): 5-6, 4-3 Points scored: 28.8 (avg.) Points allowed: 30.7 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sc h e d u l e

Date............... Opponent ..............Location 08/25.............. Cedar Bluff............................H 09/02................Fairview*............................. A 09/09...............Crossville*............................H 09/16..................Butler*............................... A 09/23......... Cleburne County....................... A 09/30........... North Jackson*......................... A 10/07................... DAR*................................. A 10/14................ Douglas*.............................H 10/21.............Guntersville*..........................H 10/28............... Piedmont.............................H * denotes region contest


The Anniston Star

Page 10 Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Ta l l a d e g a c o u n t y C e n t r a l | f i g h t i n g t i g e r s

T he long wait is over Wright hoping his dream job can turn into dream season By Al Muskewitz amuskewitz@annistonstar.com

Bob Crisp/Consolidated News Service

First-year coach Buddy Wright is set on playing good defense and controlling the clock as he hopes to guide the Fighting Tigers to the playoffs.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Buddy Wright Class, Region: 1A, 3 Fast fact: Last year’s one win was the fewest in a season since the Fighting Tigers’ went winless in 1991.

2010 Record (overall, region): 1-9, 1-6 Points scored: 13.3 (avg.) Points allowed: 40.2 (avg.)

2011 schedule Date..................Opponent . ...Location 08/26.................... Parrish......................A 09/02................. Saint Jude*..................A 09/09................Winterboro*................ H 09/16................... Wadley*.....................A 09/23........... Randolph County.............A 09/30................. Notasulga*................. H 10/07.................. Verbena*....................A 10/14................Fayetteville*................ H 10/20............... Loachapoka*............... H 10/27..................Ranburne.................. H * denotes region contest

Some coaches wait a lifetime to get their dream job. Buddy Wright waited — and learned — almost half his life. Wright, who recently turned 39, has been coaching high school sports 16 years — some even as a head coach. But this fall he is taking the reins of his own football team for the first time as the new head man at Talladega County Central. “It’s something I’ve been definitely waiting on in my career,” he said. “It was an ‘ultimately’ thing; I always felt like ultimately maybe it’ll happen, sooner or later, it’ll happen. “This is my first time to have a chance to put a team on the field that I consider my own, and it’s been an exciting period so far.” Wright is no stranger to coaching football. He cut his teeth playing and working under some of the most successful coaches in the state and in a variety of classifications. He’ll channel those experiences into a Fighting Tigers program he wants to get back in the playoffs after the fist year off since 2005. And he’s hoping to tie it all together with structure and a philosophy that has stuck with him since his freshman year in high school. “I’ve always said 70 percent of coaching is motivation,” Wright said. “Twenty percent is knowledge and the last 10 percent is luck. Sometimes you just have to be lucky, and that’s with any sport. “I know everybody starts off saying they want to win a state championship. We just want to win one week at a time because when you get into the playoffs, anything can happen.” He knows that all too well. The Jacksonville State grad was a freshman on the 1986 Gadsden team that went 4-5 and ended up winning the state championship. His last basketball team at Gaston was 3-15 at one point last season and wound up sweeping the area and making it to the regional. “That’s what I keep telling the guys,” he said. “Just keep doing what I’m asking you to do, keep playing hard, and something

“Sometimes you just have to be lucky, and that’s with any sport.” — Buddy Wright, TC Central coach

good is going to happen.” And what he’ll be asking of his new team is to do it with defense, while running the football and controlling the clock. Last year, the Fighting Tigers held only one opponent to fewer than 30 points, and that was in their lone win (39-6 over Fayetteville). They’ll rebuild that defense around linebackers Wilbert Wells (6-3, 255) and Corey Morris (6-0, 205), an honorable mention all-state pick as a freshman, and defensive end Tadarius Wright (6-0, 250). The offense will be directed by sophomore quarterback Zekyle Stockdale. Ramone Russell and Tyree Garrett will do most of the rushing, while Wright is expecting big things from tight end Tevin Garrett and versatile Kendarious Swain. TCC fell a long way last year after reaching the state title game as recently as 2007, but from what Wright has seen so far, it’s this close to climbing back. “I think we’re right there at the verge of being a playoff team,” he said. “... From what I’ve seen on film and what I’ve seen all summer, I’ll be very disappointed if this team is not a playoff contending team.” The journey — for Wright as a head football coach and the Fighting Tigers as his new team — begins Aug. 26 at Parrish. “I don’t know if I’ve really grasped the moment of it all and probably won’t until that first ballgame when the lights come on.” Al Muskewitz is a sports writer for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 11

cover Continued from Page 2 In addition to the football that has to be played, the life for the county’s two public schools, Clay County and Lineville is littered with lasts. Lineville coach Steve Giddens is going through much the same but with a little different take than most. He feels it for the Panthers, where he was a star football player graduating in 1980. He feels it for the Aggies, where he begins his 13th year as a head football coach. And he also sees the necessity of it from the administrative standpoint, as the school’s assistant principal. Despite his mixed background, he swears he bleeds red and black. And when he talks about the impending end, his voice quickly turns dark. “The most honest way I can answer that,” he said, “it’s bittersweet. “I know what we’re doing: getting a new school and combining and getting a new building — and all that’s great. But right now, it’s just hard to get past losing Lineville. There’s an emptiness in me, I really don’t know how to put a finger on it.” Even though his ties aren’t as deeply rooted as Giddens’, Herron, in his 22nd year in Ashland, is no less sad. Though he’s not a graduate, his wife, formerly Vickie Young and the 1982 homecoming queen at Clay County, is convinced he gets it as well as anybody. “There’s no doubt he understands,”

ABOVE: Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star/File; BELOW: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star/File

Both Lineville coach Steve Giddens, above, and Clay County coach Kris Herron, below, must juggle this season with the potential distractions of this being the last year of existence for their respective schools.

could understand what those people went through, this time around is different. As different as it may be, without talking about it, Giddens and Herron are handling the situation the same way with their players. “Certainly, we’ve brought it up,” Giddens said, “but it’s not something we’re beating them over the head with.” Herron agrees. “They’re going to hear it enough around the community,” he said. “It’s the talk everywhere you go.” And while the new — Clay County coach Kris Herron school is the big talk, the on the new high school final Clay Bowl may just be bigger. The now-annual gridiron affair has been played since 1922 and is among the she said. “When I first met him, I state’s longest-running rivalries. Dividthought, ‘He’s just like somebody from ing the county in a very Iron Bowl-fashClay County.’” ion, the Week 5 intrigue has already Clay County has lost schools before. started to build. Bibb Graves and Mellow Valley were And plans — albeit unofficial and consolidated into the two remaining rooted in nothing more than talk — are schools in 2003. While Giddens said he being batted around to deal with what

“They’re going to hear it enough around the community. It’s the talk everywhere you go.”

all involved believe to be one of the most heavily attended games the county may ever see. “I can’t imagine what the week leading up to it will be like,” Herron said. “I’ve heard people talking about wanting to ask Oxford if we could come up there and play.” What is certain is the bragging rights will be eternal. “Try not to think about it a lot, espe-

cially after how the Clay Bowl went last year,” Herron said. “They whooped us pretty good. You’ll never get another opportunity at it.” Even though the new 2012 school year will mark the official start to the new schools’ existence, athletics will mark the unofficial start. To properly field a football team, the two schools will come together some time after the first of 2012 for spring training — with a coach and staff still yet to be determined. And players’ positions undetermined, as well. “You stand back in a locker room and you’ll overhear stuff,” Herron said. “I hear the kids talking. They’ll say things like, ‘You think I’ll get to play defensive end at the new school?’ So, they’re thinking about it.” Giddens thinks the students are adapting better than the adults, pointing to the technological age and social media sites, such as Facebook. He said today a student’s friends are not limited to the people in just their school, making the merger with new classmates a little more cohesive. It’s certain the distractions are plenty for both students and adults alike, and that’s what Giddens said he’s trying to guard against the most. “We’re still Lineville,” he said. “I want to make sure I send this school out with as much honor and integrity as possible.” Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256235-3570 or follow him on Twitter @ bran_strickland.


The Anniston Star

Page 12 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A S W A P reseason poll Class 6A Team (first-place votes)

Class 5A

2010 record

1. Daphne (24)

15-0

Pts 366

2. Hoover (2)

14-1

3. Prattville (7)

Team (first-place votes)

2010 record

Class 4A

Class 3A

Team (first-place votes)

2010 record

1. Thomasville (33)

15-0

Pts 396

1. Briarwood Chr. (17)

13-2

Pts 347

277

2. Hueytown (13)

11-2

330

2. Jackson

10-2

8-4

250

3. Spanish Fort (3)

13-2

235

3. Dadeville

4. Spain Park

6-6

228

4. Hartselle

12-2

219

5. Davidson

12-2

169

5. Vigor

8-5

173

6. Clay-Chalkville

9-4

136

6. Eufaula

9-3

7. Mountain Brook

11-3

119

7. Chelsea

Team (first-place votes)

2010 record

1. Leeds (33)

15-0

Pts 396

234

2. Piedmont

12-2

274

12-1

231

3. Hamilton

14-1

256

4. North Jackson

13-1

209

4. Handley

10-2

255

5. Deshler

12-3

182

5. Gordo

12-2

193

124

6. Bibb Co.

12-2

164

6. Washington Co.

9-3

130

8-3

107

7. Andalusia

9-2

140

7. T.R. Miller

8-4

86

8. Auburn

8-2

86

8. Walker

10-2

96

8. UMS-Wright

6-5

75

8. Madison Acad.

10-3

58

9. Oxford

7-5

75

9. Muscle Shoals

8-3

84

9. Anniston

10-3

69

9. Plainview

8-4

44

10. C.-Phenix City

9-2

31

10. St. Paul’s

10-2

65

10. Escambia Co.

9-4

62

10. Bayside Acad.

9-4

41

Others receiving votes Gadsden City (9-4) 28, Stanhope Elmore (10-3) 27, Tuscaloosa Co. (8-3) 27, Wetumpka (10-2) 17, Foley (8-4) 15, Vestavia Hills (9-3) 13, Decatur (9-2) 7, Florence (4-6) 6, Fairhope (7-5) 2, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (9-2) 2.

Others receiving votes Fort Payne (12-1) 44, Russellville (112) 16, Pinson Valley (5-6) 14, McAdory (11-3) 12, Demopolis (8-4) 6, Fairfield (7-4) 3, Etowah (6-5) 2, Greenville (7-4) 2, Tallassee (9-2) 2.

Others receiving votes Oneonta (8-4) 54, Cleburne Co. (9-3) 20, Straughn (10-2) 19, Fairview (10-2) 9, Guntersville (7-4) 6, Cherokee Co. (5-6) 5, Fayette Co. (10-3) 4, Dora (3-8) 1, Hillcrest-Evergreen (7-4) 1.

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-iĂ€Ă›ÂˆViĂŠUĂŠ-ÂœÂ?Ă•ĂŒÂˆÂœÂ˜ĂƒĂŠUĂŠ-ĂŒĂ€i˜}ĂŒÂ… *ˆi`Â“ÂœÂ˜ĂŒĂŠUĂŠÂ˜Â˜ÂˆĂƒĂŒÂœÂ˜ĂŠUĂŠ>VÂŽĂƒÂœÂ˜Ă›ÂˆÂ?Â?iĂŠUĂŠ"Ă?vÂœĂ€` v‡“L>˜Ž°Vœ“

Others receiving votes Daleville (8-3) 40, Lauderdale Co. (102) 37, Trinity (11-2) 31, Clay Co. (8-4) 25, Glencoe (10-2) 6, Sardis (4-6) 6, Cordova (10-2) 2, Hanceville (4-6) 1.


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 13

A S W A P reseas o n p o ll Cl a s s 2 A 2010 record

Team (first-place votes)

Cl a s s 1 A Team (first-place votes)

1. Sweet Water (32)

12-3

Pts 393

1. Leroy (16)

14-1

2. American Chr. (17)

12-2

339

2. Linden (1)

12-2

3. Elba

11-2

247

3. R.A. Hubbard

4. Reeltown

13-2

228

4. Parrish

5. Millry

5-6

171

6. Cottonwood

12-1

7. Fyffe 8. Tanner 9. Lineville 10. Sulligent

Team (first-place votes)

2010 record

1. Monroe Acad. (29)

2-1

Pts 381

287

2. Pike Liberal

9-3

276

13-2

264

3. Fort Dale Acad. (2)

10-3

259

10-4

207

4. Edgewood Acad.

12-2

238

5. Cedar Bluff

9-3

179

5. Bessemer Acad. (1)

11-1

186

134

6. Lynn

11-2

162

6. Glenwood

6-5

175

9-2

132

7. Collinsville

9-2

119

7. Patrician

7-3

116

11-1

66

8. Brantley

8-3

89

8. Lowndes Acad.

8-4

74

10-4

48

9. Maplesville

12-1

51

9. Springwood (1)

10-3

57

10-3

43

10. Ragland

9-3

50

10. Clarke Prep

10-2

54

Others receiving votes Houston Acad. (8-3) 40, Colbert Hts. (83) 36, Fultondale (4-6) 29, Westminster Chr. (10-2) 8, Red Bay (5-6) 6, Southern Choctaw (9-3) 6, Woodland (9-3) 6, Westbrook Chr. (10-1) 2.

Others receiving votes Addison (10-3) 32, Appalachian (8-3) 30, Hackleburg (8-3) 6, Pickens Co. (75) 6, McKenzie (10-1) 2, Winterboro (73) 2, Gaston (5-6) 1, St. Jude (11-2) 1.

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Others receiving votes Restoration Acad. (8-4) 32, Macon-East (4-6) 17, Coosa Valley Acad. (11-2) 9, Autauga Acad. (7-6) 4, Southern Acad. (4-7) 2, Sumter Acad. (10-3) 1

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The Anniston Star

Page 14 Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Ragland | purple Devils

‘Coming to fruition’ Ragland poised for another run, hoping to prove pollsters correct BY NICK BIRDSONG nbirdsong@annistonstar.com

E The Anniston Star file photo

Ragland coach Brian Mintz said he is excited about this year’s team and the preseason pollsters are, too, placing the Purple Devils at No. 10.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Brian Mintz Class, Region: 1A, 6 Fast fact: Last year’s playoff berth represented the 10th straight for the Purple Devils.

2010 Record (overall, region): 9-3, 6-1 Points scored: 27.3 (avg.) Points allowed: 8.8 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sche d u l e Date................ Opponent ......... Location 08/26............... Fayetteville....................... H 09/02.................Donoho*......................... H 09/09............ Jefferson Chr.*.................... A 09/16.............Parkway Chr.*..................... H 09/23............... Gaylesville....................... A 09/30...................Akron*.......................... H 10/07..........Jacksonville Chr.*.................. A 10/14...............Coosa Chr.*...................... H 10/21............. Appalachian*..................... A 10/28............... Collinsville....................... A * denotes region contest

RAGLAND xpect big things from Ragland Purple Devils this season. Their leader certainly does. Coming off a 9-3 season in 2010, during which they captured a Class 1A, Region 6 title and reached the state quarterfinals where they fell to Lynn, the Purple Devils look poised to put together a deep postseason run. They come into the season ranked No. 10 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association poll on the strength of last season’s performance and the promise of their experienced roster. “I expected us to be successful last year,” coach Brian Mintz said. “Two years ago, we were extremely young — and we’re still young in some places. We lost some seniors that will be sorely missed — but we’ve got some young guys that I’m really excited about. I think we’re looking at a class that’s coming to fruition.” Ragland lost just four starters on offense and defense and retain the nucleus that made them such a successful bunch a year ago. They’ll be without the services of graduates Devin Wilson, Bradley Barber and John Arnold. Barber was a key lineman while Echols, a uniquely gifted athlete, played wherever Mintz and his staff needed him, seeing time as a defensive lineman, tight end, fullback and wide receiver. Wilson started at linebacker on defense and handled carries out the backfield as both a running back and fullback. Arnold was Ragland’s starting quarterback last season. Senior Scotty Smith will step in under center this year. Smith played defensive back and receiver a year ago and showed off his arm strength on the baseball diamond going 7-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA. “He’s real competitive and he throws well,” Mintz said. “He’s also an intelligent

“We understand that this is a new year and anything can happen.” — John Mark Mintz, Ragland lineman

kid. He picks up things quickly. If I tell him how to do something, I don’t have to tell him twice.” They’ll still have a solid dual threat at running back in Dewayne Brewster and Nick Sanders. Defensively, Ragland might boast as formidable a front as you’ll find in Class 1A with senior tandem Cole Bearden and John Mark Mintz. Bearden (6-foot-1, 245 pounds) had 70 tackles and recovered three fumbles as a sophomore. John Mark, coach Mintz’s son, is 6-2, 235. “We felt like we did a pretty good job pressuring the quarterback last year,” Bearden said. “We’re all bigger and stronger, and we think we’ll do a pretty good job of pressuring this year, too.” The other two defensive line spots are “mysteries” at this point, Mintz said. Brewster, along with hard-hitting linebacker Austin Thornton, should hold down the linebacker spots. The taste they got of postseason success a year ago has only served to feed their desire coming into this season. “We’re all really good friends. We’re all really close,” John Mark said. “We’re pretty focused. We understand that this is a new year and anything can happen. We’ve got to go out and earn it. “We want it more than we did last year, for sure.” Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word


The Anniston Star

A s D | s i l e n t wa r r i o r s

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 15

Cautious approach Silent Warriors eyeing lofty goals for experience-laden squad By Wesley Sinor

T

Consolidated News Service

he signs are everywhere, and they’re pointing right at it, but Paul Kulick doesn’t want to jinx himself. Back from the Silent Warriors 7-2 team that claimed the Mason-Dixon Championship are a host of starters — eight offensive and seven defensive. And among those is Demetric Snider, the Deaf Digest Sports’ National Player of the Year and All-American. But head coach Kulick isn’t ready to start the talk just yet, the history is just too fresh in his mind. “I hate to say that we want to win the National Championship, because I’ve been trying for five years,”Kulick said. “So, I’m not going to say it.” Kulick promises a one-game-at-atime approach, but right now all signs are pointing to that first game in October. Maryland School for the Deaf is the six-time defending National Deaf Interscholastic Athletics Association champion, and the two have agreed to face off on the field this season. “Our goal is to break that,” Kulick said of the streak. “... It should be the biggest game for the deaf schools this year.” It will be their second game against deaf school competition with a host of Alabama speaking schools to get them ready and to test the host of talented starters the Silent Warriors have returning. Snider will lead the charge at running back. While his 2010 stats may not have been eye-popping with 740 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground and seven catches for 122 yards, voters for his national player of the year honors looked at more than just his numbers. Kulick said there were few games last season where the Silent Warriors actually needed him in the second half as five of their nine wins were by more than 20 points.

“I think we have a speed factory. We’ve got kids here that are really fast.” — Paul Kulick, ASD coach Helping Snider in the Silent Warriors’ double-wing offense is Anthony JonesRobinson, who tallied just more than 500 yards and seven touchdowns, as he was also named All-American. Kadarius Slaughter, who played running back last year, has been moved to quarterback. Kulick called the move “awesome,” noting his speed and agility. “In the history of ASD, speed has been our strength,” Kulick said. “I think we have a speed factory. We’ve got kids here that are really fast.” Opening up holes for the speedsters shouldn’t be a problem as seniors Kenneth Tally, Lorenzo Burrow and Rashard James return with a wealth of experience. On the defensive side of the ball, Snider leads there, too, where all the defensive backs and linebackers are returning seniors. He was last year’s leading tackler with 81 stops. JonesRobinson is also back at linebacker, and Joshua Eatmon returns at cornerback where he tallied 44 tackles and four interceptions last season. Whether ASD is crowned national champions or not, Kulick is not looking forward to the final game with his seniorheavy squad. “I’m going to hate to see them go,” the coach said. “They’ve been with me for five years, since they’ve been in eighth grade. This same group has become a band of brothers.” Star sports editor Bran Strickland contributed to this report.

Brian Schoenhals/Consolidated News Service

ASD coach Paul Kulick oversees quarterback drills at a recent practice. The Silent Warriors are loaded with returners and have their goals set high.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Paul Kulick Class, Region: Will not compete for the playoffs Fast fact: The Silent Warriors have not competed in region/ area play since 1999.

2010 Record (overall, region): 7-2, 0-0 Points scored: 33.8 (avg.) Points allowed: 21.1 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 s ched u le Date....................Opponent . ........Location 08/26.............. Jacksonville Chr................... H 09/02............... Geneva County.................... A 09/10.................. Indiana S.D...................... H 09/16................... Gaylesville...................... H 09/23...................Fayetteville....................... A 10/01................ Maryland S.D...................... A 10/08...................Florida S.D........................ A 10/15..........Model Secondary S.D.............. H 10/21................ Spring Garden.................... A 10/28................... Tharptown...................... H


Page 16 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 17

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Page 16 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 17

Michael Battle

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2011 Ford Ranger 4X2 XLT Super Cab

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SuperCrew, White ....................

Hwy

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$26,777

2008 Ford F150 King’s Ranch,

2002 Ford F150 XLT,

26 MPG

$16,777* $230* Per Month

2011 Chevrolet Impala LT

Was $36,745

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*All payments are figured with $2,000 Cash or Trade Equity (3.49% for 75 months) WAC

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2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ, stk #21060A,

King Cab, 2WD, Automatic, Silver . $12,333

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2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

2011 Ford Fiesta SEL,

32 MPG

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34 MPG

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$449

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2011 Ford F150 4X2 XLT ECOBOOST Supercrew

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Hwy

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2008 Chevrolet Suburban 3LT, stk #21090A,

$23,288* $330* Per Month 2010 Ford Focus SE

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2006 GMC Sierra 1500, stk #21081A,

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2010 Ford Edge Limited, 4dr, FWD, Silver.......................

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$18,778 $261 Per Month 2010 Chevy HHR 2LT

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2011 Ford Taurus SEL

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Hwy

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29 MPG

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Hwy

2010 Ford Explorer XLT Up to

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24 MPG

2010 Chevy Impala LT

2010 Chevrolet Cobalt 2LT, stk #21036A,

Crew Cab, 4WD, Black.............. $23,555

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Page 18 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cleburne County | Tigers

The Anniston Star

FULLY LOADED Cleburne County primed to return to winning ways of old BY NICK BIRDSONG nbirdsong@annistonstar.com

W

HEFLIN hen teams begin to carefully craft schemes to defend Cleburne County’s offense, they must attempt to account for and contain Rocky Hayes first and foremost. Following a junior season where he rushed for more than 1,500 yards and nearly 20 touchdowns, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound athlete is a known commodity throughout the state of Alabama. But with the 2011 version of the Tigers, it’s the unknown members of the roster who might make an already intimidating task next to impossible. Cleburne County’s new additions along with some improved veterans make for the most impressive stable of backs in recent school history. “With the depth we have, it probably is,” Cleburne County coach Michael Shortt said. “Probably since back in 2007 when we had Arsenio Hayes and that bunch, and Koty Morehead. We have a lot of depth this year in our receiving core and our running backs. That really helps you.” The Tigers should benefit from the services of transfers Antoine Phillips and Trey Bolton, as well as a healthy Chris Ervin and

John Butler in the backfield. Wide receivers Trace Biggers and DeAndre Bynum along with tight end Alex Lee will make for nice targets for third-year starting quarterback Matt Norton. Phillips, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound speeddemon might be the shiniest new gem in Shortt’s treasure chest. Phillips was a firstteam selection to The Times-Georgian’s All-Area team a year ago. He capped off his junior campaign at Haralson County High by rushing for 230 yards on just 20 carries in a 49-20 loss to Gainesville in the opening round of the Georgia AAA state playoffs. Hayes said Phillips as well as Bolton, a sophomore who transferred to Cleburne County from Weaver, will add speed and allow them to operate more out of a twoback, shotgun formation. That could cause trouble, especially if it means Hayes or Phillips is lined up in the slot wide receiver spot. “The kickoff game is going to kill it, man,” Hayes said. “We had a little problem with kickoffs last year. People used to always kick it away from me or let it go out of bounds. “So, we never really got any good field position. In high school football, that’s what it’s all about — good field position. Now, we’ve got two people that can return kicks in the back. It’s really going to help out a lot.” Please see Cleburne Co. ❙ Page 19

“It helps a lot with me being a finesse runner, having the power game in the backfield. People can’t just spread out the box and keep me inside.” — Rocky Hayes, Cleburne County senior

Trent Penny/The Anniston Star

Rocky Hayes is back to lead the Tigers’ offense this season. This year, though, he’ll have a lot of help, giving the Tigers lots of options.


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 19

Just a few reasons we provide innovative rehabilitation services. Terry Lamb/The Anniston Star/File

Cleburne County quarterback Matt Norton, above, is a spot-on passer with a buffet of talent around him to distribute the football.

Cleburne Co. Continued from Page 18 Hayes holds scholarship offers from Jacksonville State, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee St. and Idaho State and is being recruited primarily to play corner. They plan to play Phillips opposite him on defense in hopes of having a pair of lockdown corners a la the New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis and Antonio Chromartie. Cleburne County will also hand the ball off to 5-8, 170-pounder John Butler, who missed most of last season with a broken collarbone. With all that slash, one might think Cleburne County has forgotten its smashmouth roots. Not the case. Insert Ervin; the 5-10, 230-pound bruiser should be up and ready to bang come kickoff time of the season opener at rival Lineville. “It helps a lot with me being a finesse runner, having the power game in the backfield. Hayes said. “People can’t just

Nuts and bolts Coach: Michael Shortt Class, Region: 4A, 6 Fast fact: Last year’s 389 points the Tigers scored were the most since their state title berth in 2001.

2010 Record (overall, region): 9-3, 5-2 Points scored: 32.4 (avg.) Points allowed: 21.7 (avg.)

spread out the box and keep me inside. People have to stack the box when Chris is giving us a good running game. “It just makes it a whole lot easier for me to get to that outside. We’re a good threat in the backfield together. ervin With us both being in the backfield healthy, we’re going to do damage.” Things couldn’t be going much better for Norton. As August comes to a close and the season inches toward its opening, he has more at his disposal than a fat kid locked in a grocery store. “We can do anything,” Norton said. “We can go pass, we can go run. We can run inside, outside. We can throw the ball. We’ve got everything.” Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.

The world can be a punishing place for a body. Luckily, Regional Medical Center has the latest technology, expert physicians and a full range of therapies to handle any kind of physical rehabilitation. Which is good news for aspiring football players like Justin.

Anniston Advanced Technology. Advanced Care.

2 0 1 1 sched u le Date.................. Opponent ...........Location 08/26................... Lineville........................... A 09/02.................. Anniston*..........................H 09/09................Jacksonville*....................... A 09/16...........Saint Clair County* .................H 09/23............ Cherokee County....................H 09/30.................Alexandria*........................ A 10/08................ Locust Fork*........................ A 10/14.................Springville*........................H 10/21...................Oneonta*.......................... A 10/27................... Munford...........................H * denotes region contest

RMCcares.org


The Anniston Star

Page 20 Wednesday, August 17, 2011 s p r i n g g a r d e n | pa n t h e r s

Back to the glory days Panthers hope experience can get things back on playoff track By Charles Bennett

T

cbennett@annistonstar.com

Marc Golden/Gadsden Times/File

Spring Garden fullback Forrest Livingston returns to lead the offense for the Panthers after rushing for 1,014 yards last season.

Nuts and bolts Coach: John McKay Class, Region: 1A, 7 Fast fact: Since the rival of the football team in 1992, the Panthers have had only one winning season (2008).

2010 Record (overall, region): 3-7, 3-4 Points scored: 10.4 (avg.) Points allowed: 25.3 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 s ch e d u l e Date.................Opponent ....... Location 08/26.................Ranburne.....................H 09/02...............Collinsville*....................H 09/09.............. Valley Head*................... A 09/16.................. Gaston*.......................H 09/23.................. Donoho....................... A 09/30............... Gaylesville*....................H 10/07.............. Cedar Bluff *................... A 10/14................Woodville*..................... A 10/21..................... ASD..........................H 10/28................ Sand Rock .................... A * denotes region contest

he good old days when Spring Garden made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons haven’t been gone that long, but coach John McKay is ready to get back. McKay enters his second season as head coach hoping the Panthers can put the disappointment of last year’s 3-8 finish behind them and get back to playing winning football. “We don’t have a lot in terms of numbers,” McKay said. “We’ve got about 25, which I guess is typical for a 1A school. But we’ve got a good mix of players who are working hard and who want to win.” The most important thing is the Panthers have experience, with a team dominated by juniors and seniors. On the 25man roster, there are 12 juniors and eight seniors. McKay said a solid offseason, particularly in the weight room, gives the Panthers a big shot at improving. “We’ve gotten a lot stronger,” McKay said. “When you’re dealing with a small roster, they’ve got to be strong and they’ve got to be in shape. You’ve got to be in the best shape you can possibly be in. That was our focus in the offseason and still is.” McKay said a solid nucleus of talent, particularly at the skill positions, has him hopeful that the Panthers will be more productive on offense this season. “We’ve got some good players at the skill positions that should help us,” he said. Leading rusher Forrest Livingstone, who rushed for 1,014 yards last season, is back at fullback in the Panthers’ Wing T offense. McKay also is excited about versatile sophomore Bill Ivy. “He can play anywhere from tailback to receiver to quarterback,” McKay said. “He can run it, he can catch it, he can throw it. Jay Grogan also figures in the mix at quarterback. Grogan was thrust into the lineup last year after the Panthers’ starter got hurt and got plenty of experience.

“Last year was just unfortunate. ... But that’s over. We’ve moved on.” — John McKay, Spring Garden coach

Defensively, the Panthers will base out of a 4-4. “We’ll change out of that some,” McKay said. “We like to stay 4-4 when we can, but that doesn’t always work out.” Because of the Panthers’ limited roster, most players will go both ways. Livingston will play at middle linebacker. Ivy will play at corner. B.J. Turner and Craig Jones will anchor the right side of the line on offense and play strong side end and strong side tackle on defense. In 2008 and 2009, the Panthers were a combined 15-9 and made the playoffs both seasons. McKay was an assistant coach on those teams. He’s eager to get the Panthers back to their winning ways after the disappointment of last season. “Last year was just unfortunate,” he said. “We had a lot of critical injuries, particularly at quarterback. But that’s over. We’ve moved on.” Staying healthy, obviously, is a key, but McKay said his team has put in the necessary work to have a good year. “They can tell we can be a lot better football team,” he said. “They’ve worked hard. Whether it works out, we’ll have to see, but I’ll be disappointed if we aren’t a much better football team this season.” Charles Bennett is a sports writer for The Star.


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 21


The Anniston Star

Page 22 Wednesday, August 17, 2011 handley | tigers

Run, then run more Battles’ plan of attack centered around rushing combination

I Marion R. Wadling/Tuscaloosa News/File

Hadley’s Breyon Deberry is part of the Tigers’ 1-2 punch in the backfield. He amassed 1,171 yards and 16 touchdowns last season for the Tigers.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Mike Battles Sr. Class, Region: 3A, 3 Fast fact: Since Battles’ 1-9 2006 season, he has amassed the most wins, 44, in any fouryear period in school history.

2010 Record (overall, region): 10-2, 6-1 Points scored: 37.9 (avg.) Points allowed: 13.3 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sc h e d u l e Date..............Opponent . ...........Location 08/26......... Heard Co. (Ga.)...................... H 09/02............B.B. Comer*..........................A 09/09............... Beulah*.............................A 09/16........... Clay County*........................ H 09/23............Sweet Water........................ H 09/30..............Marbury*............................A 10/07......... Central-Coosa*...................... H 10/14............. Wellborn*...........................A 10/21................ Leeds*............................. H 10/28...............Lineville.............................A * denotes region contest

BY NICK BIRDSONG nbirdsong@annistonstar.com

f you’re one of the 10 teams on Handley’s schedule this season, chances are you know exactly how the Tigers are going to attack your defense. They’re going to run the ball right at you. Unfortunately, for the other six teams in Class 3A, Region 3 as well as Heard County (Ga.), top-ranked Sweet Water (Class 1A) and Lineville (Class 2A), chances are you’re going to have a Shamu whale of a time figuring out how to stop them. Handley, which enters the season ranked No. 4 in the state in the Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, possesses one of the most potent rushing attacks in all the land with a talented backfield and an experienced offensive line. The combination of senior tailback Breyon Deberry and Duran Zachary running behind a line that includes junior Bradley Bozeman, an Alabama commit, should likely have opposing defensive coordinators guzzling energy drinks during the wee hours Thursday nights. “We’re going to run that football and in dier or extreme situations, we’ll throw it against opponents,” Handley coach Mike Battles said. Deberry burst onto the scene last season when he rushed for 1,171 yards and 16 touchdowns despite handling the ball just 130 times in 12 games. Zachary gained 627 yards on just 77 carries and added eight touchdowns a year ago. The Tigers have other options as well. Quarterback Trae Kyles is an integral part of the running game. Last year he was the team’s third-leading rusher behind Deberry and Zachary with close to 500 yards and six touchdowns on 99 carries. “Anybody we hand it to, we expect them to contribute,” Battles said. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t be giving it to them.” Kyles didn’t take to the air often in his first season under center following the graduation of Darius Finley, who signed with Shorter College in 2009. However,

“Anybody we hand it to, we expect them to contribute.” — Mike Battles, Handley coach

when he did, he was accurate, completing 41 of 70 passes for 740 yards for 10 touchdowns against just three interceptions. With all the talent behind him, Bozeman is like a geek in an Apple store with a gift certificate. By the way, Alabama fans, Bozeman said he’s as solid as ever in his commitment to the Crimson Tide, adding he doesn’t even plan on scheduling visits anywhere else. “Breyon and Duran and all of them, they’re all so good,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen when they might break one.” Battles hopes the only things any of his players break are runs. Handley has won at least 10 games each of the past three seasons, reaching the Class 4A state semifinals in 2008 and 2009. Last season, they were downed in the second-round by Gordo. “(Deberry) went down in the second quarter and that left a big gap we had to fill,” Battles said. “Our quarterback went out late in the ball game. After that, we were riding without two spokes in the wheel.” Everyone’s healthy, as Handley prepares to embark upon a 2010 schedule where they expect to contend for a state title, a regularity as of late. “Everybody needs to be on the same page,” Bozeman said. “We need to have one thing on our minds and that’s a state championship. Everybody needs to go hard. That’s why we go so hard and what we’re preparing for.” Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 23


The Anniston Star

Page 24 Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Lincoln | Golden Bears

Just win baby ... now Different head coach, but attitude remains same for Golden Bears By Al Muskewitz amuskewitz@annistonstar.com

C Bob Crisp/Consolidated News Service

First-year coach Charlie Dampeer doesn’t want to wait around to improve on Lincoln’s 1-9 mark from last season.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Charlie Dampeer Class, Region: 4A, 3 Fast fact: After 28 years under Alan Brooks, Dampeer becomes the fourth coach in the past decade.

2010 Record (overall, region): 1-9, 1-6 Points scored: 20.1 (avg.) Points allowed: 28.6 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 s c hed u le Date..................Opponent . ..........Location 08/25....................Etowah............................H 09/02.............Elmore County*..................... A 09/09.................. Holtville*...........................H 09/16................Beauregard*........................H 09/23.................. Anniston........................... A 09/30................. Dadeville*.......................... A 10/07.................... Calera*............................H 10/14.............. Childersburg*....................... A 10/21.................. Munford*.......................... A 10/27................. Alexandria.........................H * denotes region contest

harlie Dampeer has no time or desire to wait for success to visit his Lincoln football program. The new Golden Bears’ head coach arrived for his introduction with one mindset, and it will be the driving force all season — win now, and keep it going. “That’s the thing we want to do,” Dampeer said. “We want to try to win today. I don’t know any other way to do it. If you’re a senior, you don’t want to wait two years to win. “You hear people all the time come into a program saying we want to build this thing. Obviously, you want to build it, but if you’re a senior, you want to win today. The object is to win right now. I think the kids understand that.” Even though the Golden Bears were 1-9 last year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006, Dampeer doesn’t see any reason it can’t happen. And if anyone has a chance to turn it around, it’s a coach who has earned a reputation in Mississippi as a quicker fixerupper. During his 22-year tenure as a head coach, Dampeer took three programs that were struggling at the time of his arrival and turned them into winners. Saltillo had never made the playoffs in its 26 years before Dampeer got there, and he took it to the playoffs both years he was there. He did the same thing at Tishomingo County. In his most recent stop, he took a once-proud Pontotoc program that had fallen on hard times to seven wins his first year. “That’s not always the best thing, but I seemed to play that role well,” Dampeer said. “I don’t know how I got started doing that, but that’s what happened. I call it belief without evidence. “But that’s all in the past. I’m not trying to fix this year. I just want to win ballgames. I’ve been asked how that happens. … You’ve

“If you’re a senior, you don’t want to wait two years to win.” — Charlie Dampeer, Lincoln coach

got to make them believe what you’re doing and you know what you’re doing.” There may be a little more blind faith than usual involved this year since Dampeer didn’t go through spring practice with his charges, creating a situation he calls the “toughest thing” he’s done in coaching. Plus, he admits he hasn’t heard of any of the teams on the Golden Bears’ schedule. But he knows there are players in the program good enough to get things turned around — the Golden Bears have sent three players to FBS programs the last three years — and they aren’t that far removed from tasting success. To that end, one of the first things he did was move Sharrod Cochran back to quarterback to run a formation-oriented offense Dampeer promises will be “as innovative as anybody else.” Cochran was a wide receiver in the spring. Last year, Cochran had 360 yards of offense and accounted for six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) in a game against Holtville. “He’s the best athlete on the team,” Dampeer said. “We want him touching the ball every snap. He’s a threat with the ball in his hands. That’s the object — to get him the ball and let him make plays with his arms and legs.” Other senior standouts include running back Rod Green, a power back limited by injuries last season, and linemen Patrick Weed and Jeff Roberts. Al Muskewitz is a sports writer for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.


The Anniston Star

wa d l e y | b u l l d o g s

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 25

New, fast-paced life First-year coach Roach bringing high-energy style to Wadley Bobby Bozeman rbozeman@annistonstar.com

L

Wadley ife doesn’t typically move along at a very quick pace in the small town of Wadley. But for the past couple of weeks on the practice field, in the 100-degree weather, the first audibles of the fall are being called and the pace is picking up. At least that’s the goal of new Wadley coach Darrel Roach. “I’m an up-tempo guy,” said Roach. “If you see me on this football field, I’m non-stop. They’re having to kind of learn me and the way I am like that, but they’re getting accustomed to it.” He’s only had the head-coaching job since the beginning of August but already he has his team marching up and down the practice field as quickly as he can, shouting plays and adjustments in the typical coded language of the gridiron. “Alright, flip it,” Roach shouts to his players and they scramble to get into position before they march down the field the other way. “I can’t ask for no better so far,” said Roach. “They’re really working hard for us. Excellent, excellent team unity.” The players, despite still catching their breath, can’t hide their excitement for the coming year. “(Practice) is worse than last year, but we’re getting the hang of it,” said senior running back Kameron “Bud” Staples. “Couple more practices, and I think we can do it.” Staples is part of the Bulldogs’ leadership committee formed by Roach but voted on by the players. But the new pace hasn’t created any ill will toward Roach. “It’s good so far,” said senior wide receiver/free safety Wesley Johnson, who is also on the leadership committee. “We love him.” Roach comes from Cleveland high school where he was the defensive coor-

“He said we haven’t seen his bad side yet, and I really don’t want to see that.” — Ryan Siskey, Wadley quarterback dinator and assistant head coach. Last year Cleveland notched a 9-3 record and played into the second round of the playoffs. “The work ethic is here,” said Roach. “We had some kids at Cleveland that worked hard for us, but they’re working just as hard if not harder here. They’re similar in a lot of ways.” Adjusting to a new boss can be difficult for assistant coaches, and things are no different for the Bulldogs, but Roach said that the staff around him is picking up on things quickly and has been openminded about the changes. “They’re having to learn me,” said Roach. “All of them, they’re really learning things as I go, when I’m teaching them, but they’re doing an excellent job.” Roach said he believes he and the Bulldogs can have success at Wadley. But right now they are just trying to focus on learning the offense, doing the right things needed to win and getting conditioned. “It’s different than last year,” said senior quarterback Ryan Siskey, also a member of Wadley’s leadership committee. “Last year we were just basic, this year we’re up-tempo. We’re having to run a lot more than we did last year.” And Coach? “He’s cool right now,” said Siskey. “He said we haven’t seen his bad side yet, and I really don’t want to see that.” Bobby Bozeman is a sports writer for The Star.

Bobby Bozeman/The Anniston Star

Wadley coach Darrell Roach instructs a player during a recent practice. Roach is in his first year with the Bulldogs after being an assistant at Cleveland.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Darrell Roach Class, Region: 1A, 3 Fast fact: Wadley has made the playoffs 12 straight seasons, but has not scored a playoff win since 2007.

2010 Record (overall, region): 5-6, 5-2 Points scored: 28.2 (avg.) Points allowed: 23.5 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sch e d u l e Date....................Opponent . ........Location 08/25.............. Horseshoe Bend .................H 09/02.....................Verbena*.........................H 09/09.................. Fayetteville*...................... A 09/16...................TC Central*.......................H 09/23....................Woodland........................ A 09/30................... Saint Jude*....................... A 10/07..................Winterboro*......................H 10/14................. Loachapoka*..................... A 10/21................... Notasulga*....................... A 10/28............. Randolph County..................H * denotes region contest


The Anniston Star

Page 26 Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Munford | Lions

Spreading it around Wagnon hopes to improve both sides of the ball in second year By Lavonte young

A

Consolidated News Service

Bob Crisp/Consolidated News Service

With a full year to impliment his spread offense, second-year coach Will Wagnon is hoping to guide the Lions back to the postseason.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Will Wagnon Class, Region: 4A, 3 Fast fact: Since making the playoffs eight of 10 years in the ’90s, Munford has reached the postseason once since ’99.

2010 Record (overall, region): 3-7, 2-5 Points scored: 25.4 (avg.) Points allowed: 35.8 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sche d u le Date..................Opponent . ..........Location 08/26..................Sylacauga.......................... A 09/02.................. Holtville*........................... A 09/09............ Elmore County *.....................H 09/16................. Dadeville*..........................H 09/23................ Jacksonville.........................H 09/30................Beauregard*........................ A 10/07.............. Childersburg*.......................H 10/14.................... Calera*............................ A 10/21................... Lincoln*...........................H 10/27............Cleburne County ................... A * denotes region contest

s the old adage goes, offense sells tickets, but defense wins champions. If Will Wagnon’s first season at Munford is any indication, get to the ticket window early because as nice as the new stadium is, there’s no reserved seating. In his first head coaching job, the former Jacksonville State receiver and offensive coordinator for Cherokee County’s 2009 title proved he could put up points. The Lions averaged 25.4 points per game — and that was after being held to less than two touchdowns in three loses. With a little more time to put the polish on Wagnon’s spread offense — the same one that earned a Mr. Football award for Cherokee County’s Coty Blanchard — one would expect even with the losses of graduation, it should be improved. “Most guys have already been through a year of it, so we are getting deeper and deeper into it, which is good,” Wagon said. “We are weeks ahead of starting than where we were last year.” The only stumbling block could come at quarterback, the spread’s focal point. But Wagnon sees little problem there — even though he’s putting a sophomore under, er, behind center. The job is Monteo Garrett’s after getting a taste of it in the season’s eighth week last year. He scored two of the Lions’ four touchdowns in the 40-28 loss to Calera but also had three turnovers. Thrusting Garrett into the fire as only a freshman, Wagnon wasn’t expecting miracles, but this year that has changed — though Wagnon realizes Garrett is still young. “He has gotten so much better from last year,” Wagnon said. “He still has a long way to go, but he is going to be really good.” Helping Garrett make things go will be senior receivers Kendrick Handley and Wayne Parnell. Drew Goodwin and C.J. Thrower are senior lineman Wagnon said

“ ... we were the worst tackling team that I have seen or been apart of.” — Munford coach Will Wagnon on the Lions’ 2010 defense

are solid, and while the running backs — Alex Champion and Kimba Allen — are new, Wagnon said he was excited by what he’d seen so far. What’s less exciting to Wagnon was the other side of the ball — and at least by the old adage, the most important side. As Munford limped to a three-win season, much of the struggles could be attributed to the defense. The Lions gave up 35.8 points per game, including twice when they gave up more than 50. For Wagnon, it wasn’t hard to see what the problem was. “We were in the position to make tackles,” he said, “and to be honest with you, we were the worst tackling team that I have seen or been apart of. “That is fixable ... That was a goal this spring; we have to get better tackling and that is our goal this fall.” That goal could be tough as the Lions lost all of their down linemen in the 3-4 scheme, but with a secondary that Wagnon calls the strength of the team, the learning curve could flatten out. If it does, there should be improvement, and that would help the Lions reach their main goals: Make the playoffs, beat Lincoln. Downing their rival was all they accomplished in 2010. “The community expects year in and year out to make the playoffs and to beat Lincoln year in and year out,” he said. “I don’t think that is a stretch for this team.” Star sports editor Bran Strickland contributed to this report.


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 27 w o o d l a n d | b o b c at s

In search of a winner Woodland making its way, adjusting in post-Fetner era By Joe Medley jmedley@annistonstar.com

WOODLAND — Woodland coach Larry Strain doesn’t like the word “rebuilding,” but rebuild he must. His 53-man roster has just 13 juniors and seniors. He has just four starters returning on each side of the ball from a 9-3 team, and many play new positions. So much rebuilding to do, but it’s not hard to spot where it starts. The Bobcats must replace quarterback Trey Fetner, who accounted for nearly 2,600 yards of total offense and currently lists at No. 2 on South Alabama’s depth chart as a true freshman. “When you start talking about last year, you’re going to have to start talking about Trey Fetner,” Strain said. “He did so much, and he was such a winner to start with. “He was going to will us to win, one way or the other.” Not only will Woodland miss Fetner, but the Bobcats lost a sophomore who would have competed for the job. John Wes Adcock, who led an undefeated freshman team and started in a varsity victory over Wellborn in 2010, tore an ACL during a spring jamboree and will miss the season. “If he didn’t start at quarterback, he was probably going to start on every kicking team and in the secondary and at a wide-out spot, most likely,” Strain said. The reins will most likely fall to senior Zach Barron. The lack of seasoned depth at the position means that Woodland might not pass as much this year. Strain doesn’t want to risk getting Barron hit frequently and hurt. “Zach is not big (5-foot-8, 150 pounds), but he’s extremely quick and has got a real good arm, and he’s smart,” Strain said. “He will give us a chance to be successful.” Barron’s quickness plus Woodland’s youth behind him at quarterback likely signal more of a running team. So does Woodland’s newfound depth at running back.

“We feel like that we have to play smart, and we have to ask our quarterback to do a lot.” — Larry Strain, Woodland coach

Strain anticipates more two-back sets. He will have a running back rotation of senior Colton McManus, sophomore Colby Spears and junior Michael Howard, who transferred from Clay County. “We pass a lot usually, but this year we’re putting in the option game,” Barron said. “So we’ll probably be in the spread and then go to the option whenever we need to. “We’re just a run-and-gun team.” Even with Barron handing off more than Woodland quarterbacks past, much still comes down to the quarterback in Woodland’s way of doing things. “We have to start our quarterbacks in the seventh and eighth grades, working with them, to be successful,” Strain said. “We feel like we have to read just about everything that we do on offense. “We don’t feel like we’re ever the most talented team, by no means. We feel like that we have to play smart, and we have to ask our quarterback to do a lot.” Woodland has had quarterbacks who could do it. Now, it’s Barron’s turn to step in. “It’s been a blast, getting to watch all the other quarterbacks ahead of me and just getting to learn what they do,” Barron said. “Hopefully, I can put it all on the table this year and do my best.” Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or jmedley@annistonstar.com. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.

Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

The summer’s 7-on-7 camps were an important time for Woodland coach Larry Strain as he faces replacing star quarterback Trey Fetner.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Larry Strain Class, Region: 2A, 5 Fast fact: In 12 seasons under Strain, Woodland has endured only two losing seasons (2000, 2003).

2010 Record (overall, region): 9-3, 5-2 (playoffs 2nd round) Points scored: 31.9 (avg.) Points allowed: 17.5 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sche d u l e Date...........Opponent . .................Location 08/26..........Bowdon (Ga.)............................ A 09/02..........Horseshoe Bend*...................... A 09/09..........Reeltown*..................................H 09/16..........Ranburne*................................. A 09/23..........Wadley......................................H 09/30..........Lineville*...................................H 10/07..........Lanett*....................................... A 10/14..........LaFayette*................................. A 10/21..........Randolph County*....................H 10/28..........Wellborn...................................H * denotes region contest


The Anniston Star

Page 28 Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Ranburne | Bulldogs

Level-headed outlook Experienced Bulldogs hope for better year in talent-loaded region By Charles Bennett

L

cbennett@annistonstar.com

Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

Ranburne coach Chad Young just missed the playoffs last season, but hopes to improve on that this season as the Bulldogs return an experienced line.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Chad Young Class, Region: 2A, 5 Fast fact: In Harlen Robinson’s 30-plus years at Ranburne, he had only six losing seasons.

2010 Record (overall, region): 6-4, 3-4 Points scored: 22.5 (avg.) Points allowed: 22.8 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sch e d u l e

Date.............. Opponent .........Location 08/26.......... Spring Garden.................... A 09/02.............. Lineville*....................... H 09/09................ Lanett*.......................... A 09/16.............Woodland *...................... H 09/23................ Beulah......................... H 09/30.......Randolph County*................. A 10/07........Horseshoe Bend*................. H 10/14..............Reeltown*....................... H 10/21..............LaFayette*....................... H 10/27............. TC Central....................... A * denotes region contest

ast season, Ranburne finished 6-4 and missed the Class 2A playoffs after losing a tiebreaker. It would be a heck of a story to say that experience has motivated the Bulldogs to work extra hard in the offseason so nothing like that will happen again this year. It would be, except that it’s simply not true. To be sure, the Bulldogs have worked hard, but coach Chad Young, drawing on 13 years experience as Ranburne’s head coach, suspects his team has gained little if any additional incentive from last year’s playoff snub. “I don’t think kids think like adults do,” Young said. “I think they’re ready for another year. I don’t think they put too much stock into what happened last year. “They’re more day-to-day than we are. They know the games we won and the ones we lost, and that’s about the extent of it.” By all accounts, this year’s team should be better. The Bulldogs return eight starters on offense and seven on defense. “We’ve got a lot of experienced players coming back,” Young said, “a lot of people who started last year. We’re hoping that some of our others can provide some depth.” Even with experience, Young cautions that in rugged Region 5, it’s all relative. In 17 of the past 18 seasons, a team from Region 5 has made the state championship game. “A lot of people think that’s belly aching if you promote that a lot,” Young said, “but it’s a simple fact that our region is loaded with talent. “Most of it these days it’s not how good you are, it’s how good the people you play are. We were 6-4 last year and the four teams that beat us last year made it at least to the third round of the state playoffs. We can be better this year, but so can the team’s we’re playing. I can even look ahead to next year. We may not be as good, but we may have a better record, because I see what some of the other teams are losing.”

“I don’t think they put too much stock into what happened last year.” — Chad Young, Ranburne coach Even so, there are plenty of reasons for optimism for the Bulldogs. Ranburne will have a veteran offensive line featuring four seniors and a junior. Mason Ledbetter will be at center, with Brandon Gilliam and Dylan Harvey at the guard spots. Jesse Brown will handle one tackle spot, while Tyler Connell, the lone junior, will man the other. They will be opening holes in Ranburne’s ground-oriented offense for backs Taylor Smith and Clayton Young, son of the head coach. “He started both ways last year as a sophomore,” Young said of his son. “It’s been fun coaching him. Sometimes I forget he’s out there, but when I slow down and think about it, I realize how blessed I am to get to coach him.” The Young family’s Ranburne roots run deep. Chad Young played at Ranburne and coached as an assistant under former coach Harlan Robinson, who assembled a record of 244-115-6 over a 37-year career that included state championships in 1966 and 1975. “Coaching in your hometown has got its pros and cons,” Young said. “I know everybody here and that’s a pro. And I know everybody here and that’s a con. “Coach Robinson was here 30-plus years. We’ve only had four coaches in the modern-day history of the school. I’m blessed to have this job. We’ve had some very good players and some very good coaches since I’ve been here.” Charles Bennett is a sports writer for The Star.


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 29 Ta l l a d e g a | T i g e r s

In it for the long haul Mahand against ‘quick fix,’ wants strong foundation to turn corner By Bobby Bozeman

I

rbozeman@annistonstar.com

TALLADEGA t’s been a long two years for Talladega and coach Chris Mahand. But Mahand isn’t necessarily worried about temporary shortterm success. He’s looking to build a program. “There’s no particular amount of wins or losses that we want to achieve,” he said. “We want the boys to play well and execute. We are building a program, and we aren’t looking for a quick fix, ’cause once we turn that corner at Talladega High School, we aren’t looking back. We aren’t trying to do it just any way, we are trying to do it right.” And Mahand has some of the building blocks to start doing it right this year at Talladega. Among those blocks are senior leadership and anchors in the trenches. “I think this is going to be the best offensive line since I’ve been here at Talladega,” said Mahand, who is in his third year as the head coach of the Tigers. “That’s where everything starts, the offensive and defensive lines. We should have decent holes to run the ball.” Running the ball this year will be senior running back Javion McCoy. Mahand said McCoy is a leader both on the field and in the weight room, making sure he leads by example. “I try to make sure the team is doing the right thing and knows what’s going on,” McCoy said. “I try to make sure they’re listening to coach.” Turning the corner is a big deal for the Tigers, who have won just one game the last two years. That game was a 28-13 win against region foe Moody. Despite that, a team with solid senior leadership leaves plenty of room for optimism. “We’ve gotten a whole lot better. Coach wants us to turn that corner and we’re trying to,” McCoy said. “We’ve got leadership now, and that helps a whole

“We’ve got leadership now, and that helps a whole lot.” — Javlon McCoy, Talladega senior

lot. We’re trying to help the younger kids know what’s going on.” Mahand hopes that kind of leadership helps build more team unity for the Tigers. “That’s what’s the most important part of any team,” said Mahand. “The boys need to depend on each other; who they’re playing beside.” Of course there is also the play-calling element. Mahand said he’s not just focusing on running McCoy, but trying to achieve a balanced offensive game plan. “We don’t want to make the defensive coordinator’s job easy,” Mahand said. “If we can keep it 50-50 run and pass, then we can keep them off balance.” After playing in various other positions in his years at Talladega, McCoy is looking forward to getting the ball in his hands and helping contribute to the running game, even despite the heat of practice in Alabama. “I feel pretty good, especially since I’m running the ball.” McCoy said about this year’s practices so far. “It’s been a good experience for me.” Mahand also thinks practice has been going well. “I’ve been real pleased with the work ethic of the team,” he said. “They’ve been out working really hard. It’s been a long progress; I definitely think we’re going to show some improvement. … I think this year should be a lot better year.”

Bob Crisp/Consolidated News Service

Talladega’s linemen go through drills at a recent preseason practice. Coach Chris Mahand thinks this group has the best offensive line in his tenure.

Nuts and bolts Coach: Chris Mahand Class, Region: 5A, 5 Fast fact: The Tigers last winning season came in 1994 (65) under coach Wayne Grant.

2010 Record (overall, region): 1-9, 1-6 Points scored: 12.8 (avg.) Points allowed: 36.7 (avg.)

2 0 1 1 sch e d u l e Date...........Opponent . .................Location 08/26..........Winterboro................................H 09/02..........Pinson Valley*...........................H 09/09..........Sylacauga*................................. A 09/16..........Shelby County*.........................H 09/23..........Woodlawn*...............................H 09/30..........Briarwood Christian* .............. A 10/07..........Moody*...................................... A 10/14..........Chelsea*....................................H 10/21..........Erwin *.......................................H 10/27..........Carver-B’ham .......................... A * denotes region contest


The Anniston Star

Page 30 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2 0 1 1 C ompo s i t e s ch e d u l e Calhoun County Aug. 26

Sept. 2

Sept. 9

Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30

Alexandria

Leeds Away

Oneonta* Home

Anniston* Away

Jacksonville* Home

Boaz Home

Cleburne Co.* Springville* Home Away

Anniston

Erwin Away (25th)

Cleburne Co.* Away

Alexandria* Home

Springville* Away

Lincoln Home

Locust Fork* St. Clair Co.* Home Away

Donoho

Decatur Heritage Away

Ragland* Away

JCA* Home

Coosa Chr. * Away

Spring Garden Home

Appalachian* Home

John Carroll Locust Fork* Cleburne Co.* Alexandria* Away Away Home Away golden e agles

Munford Away

Valley Cubs

Bulldogs

f a l co n s

Jacksonville

Oct. 7

Oct. 14

Oct. 21

Oct. 28

Locust Fork St. Clair Co.* Lincoln Home Away Away (27th) Oneonta* Home

Jacksonville* Away

Briarwood Chr. Home (27th

Parkway Chr.* Home

Jefferson Chr. * Away

Akron Home

Woodville Away

Springville* Home

Oneonta* Away

St. Clair Co.* Home

Anniston* Home

Pleasant Valley Home

Jax Christian

ASD Away

Appalachian* Home

Donoho* Away

Jefferson Chr.* Home

Vina Home

Parkway Chr.* Away

Ragland* Home

Akron Away

Coosa Chr.* Away

Meek Home

Ohatchee

N. Sand Moutain* Home

Victory Chr.* Away

Section* Home

Decatur Heritage Away

Fyffe* Away

Pleasant Valley* Home

Ider* Away

Sand Rock* Home

Westbrook Chr.* Away

White Plains Away

Oxford

Carrolton Ga. Home

Gadsden City* Home

Clay Chalkville* Away

Austin* Home

Auburn Away

Pell City* Away

HewittTrussville Away

Huffman* Away

Shades Valley* Away

CentralPhenix City Home

Piedmont

Hokes Bluff* Away (25th)

Susan Moore* Home

White Plains* Away

Pennington* Home

Glencoe* Away

Weaver* Home

Greensboro Home

Saks* Away

Ashville* Home

Cherokee Co. Away

Pleasant Valley

Sand Rock* Home

Westbrook Chr.* Away

N. Sand Mountain* Home

Victory Chr.* Away

Section* Home

Ohatchee* Away

Fyffe* Home

White Plains Home

Ider* Away

Jacksonville Away

Saks

Ashville* Away

Hokes Bluff* Home

Susan Moore* Away

White Plains* Home

Pennington* Away

Glencoe* Home

Weaver* Away

Piedmont* Home

OPEN

Clay Co. Home

Weaver

Susan Moore* Away

White Plains* Home

Pennington* Away

Glencoe* Home

Wellborn Away

Piedmont* Away

Saks* Home

Ashville* Away

Hokes Bluff* Home

Coosa Chr. Home (27th)

Wellborn

Gaston Away

Central Coosa* Home

B.B. Comer* Home

Leeds* Away

Weaver Home

Beulah* Away

Clay Co.* Home

Handley* Home

Marbury* Away

Woodland Away

White Plains

Glencoe* Home (25th)

Weaver* Away

Piedmont* Home

Saks* Away

Ashville* Home

Hokes Bluff* Away

Susan Moore* Home

Pleasant Valley Away

Pennington* Away

Ohatchee Home

Thunder

indians

y e l l ow j a c k e t s

bulldogs

raiders

W i l d c at s

b e a rc a t s

p a n th e r s

w i l d c at s


The Anniston Star

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Page 31

ar e a Aug. 26

Sept. 2

Sept. 9

Oct. 7

Oct. 14

Oct. 21

Oct. 28

ASD

JCA Home

Geneva Co. Away

Indiana SD Home (10th)

Gaylesville Home

Fayetteville Away

Maryland SD Away (1st)

Florida SD Away (8th)

Model Secondary Home (15th)

Spring Garden Away

Tharptown Home

Cherokee Co.

Cedar Bluff Home (25th)

Fairview* Away

Crossville* Home

Butler * Away

Cleburne Co. Away

N. Jackson* Away

DAR * Away

Douglas* Home

Guntersville* Home

Piedmont Home

Clay Co.

Randolph Co. Home

Beulah* Home

Leeds* Home

Handley* Away

Lineville* Home

B.B. Comer* Away

Wellborn* Away

Marbury* Home

CentralCoosa* Away

Saks Away

Cleburne Co.

Lineville Away

Anniston* Home

Jacksonville* Away

St. Clair Co.* Home

Cherokee Co. Home

Alexandria* Away

Locust Fork* Away

Springville* Home

Oneonta* Away

Munford Home (27th)

Handley

Heard Co. (Ga.) Home

B.B. Comer* Away

Beulah* Away

Clay Co.* Home

Sweet Water Home

Marbury* Away

CentralCoosa* Home

Wellborn* Away

Leeds* Home

Lineville Away

Lincoln

Etowah Home (25th)

Elmore Co.* Away

Holtville* Home

Beauregard* Home

Anniston Away

Dadeville* Away

Calera* Home

Childersburg* Away

Munford* Away

Alexandria Home (27th)

Lineville

Cleburne Co. Home

Ranburne* Away

LaFayette* Away

Lanett* Home

Clay Co. Away

Woodland* Away

Randolph Co.* Home

Horseshoe Bend* Away

Reeltown* Home

Handley Home

Munford

Sylacauga Away

Holtville* Away

Elmore Co.* Home

Dadeville* Home

Jacksonville Home

Beauregard* Away

Childersburg* Home

Calera* Away

Lincoln* Home

Cleburne Co. Away (27th)

Ragland

Fayetteville Home

Donoho* Home

Jefferson Chr.* Away

Parkway* Chr. Home

Gaylesville Away

Akron* Home

JCA* Away

Coosa Chr.* Home

Appalachian* Away

Collinsville Away

Ranburne

Spring Garden Away

Lineville* Home

Lanett* Away

Woodland* Home

Beulah Home

Randolph Co.* Away

Horseshoe Bend* Home

Reeltown* Home

LaFayette* Home

TC Central Away (27th)

Randolph Co.

Clay Co. Away

LaFayette* Home

Horseshoe Bend* Home

Reeltown* Away

TC Central Home

Ranburne* Home

Lineville* Away

Lanett* Home

Woodland* Away

Wadley Away

Spring Garden

Ranburne Home

Collinsville* Home

Valley Head* Away

Gaston* Home

Donoho Away

Gaylesville* Home

Cedar Bluff* Away

Woodville* Away

ASD Home

Sand Rock Away

Talladega

Winterboro Home

Pinson Valley* Home

Sylacauga* Away

Shelby Co.* Home

Woodlawn* Home

Briarwood Chr.* Away

Moody* Away

Chelsea* Home

Erwin* Home

CarverB’ham Away (27th)

TC Central

Parrish Away

St. Jude* Away

Winterboro* Home

Wadley* Away

Randolph Co. Away

Notasulga* Home

Verbena* Away

Wadley

Horseshoe Bend Home (25th)

Verbena* Home

Fayetteville* Away

TC Central* Home

Woodland Away

St. Jude* Away

Winterboro* Home

Loachapoka* Away

Notasulga* Away

Randolph Co. Home

Woodland

Bowdon (Ga.) Away

Horseshoe Bend* Away

Reeltown* Home

Ranburne* Away

Wadley Home

Lineville* Home

Lanett* Away

LaFayette* Away

Randolph Co.* Home

Wellborn Home

Silent Warriors

Wa r r i o r s

Pa n t h e r s

Tigers

Tigers

golden bears

Agg i e s

Lions

purple devils

B u l l d o gs

Tigers

Pa n t h e r s

Tigers

F i gh t i n g T i g e r s

B u l l d o gs

B o bc a t s

Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30

Fayetteville* Loachapoka* Ranburne Home Home (20th) Home (27th)

* denotes region contest


The Anniston Star

Page 32 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

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