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2 – St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pigskin Preview 2012 Ashville ..................... 2 Leeds ......................... 6 Moody ....................... 8 Pell City ................... 12 Ragland ................... 16 St. Clair Co. ............. 20 Springville ............... 22 Victory Christian .....24

About the cover

Pictured are the quarterbacks who will lead our local high school football teams into action each week. Pictured on the top row, from left, are Moody’s Michael Barron, Victory Christian’s Easton Hopkins, St. Clair County’s Matt Hicks and Ashville’s E.J. Moss; bottom row, from left, Pell City’s Austin Martin, Leeds’ T.D. Marshall, Ragland’s KiJana Lindsay and Springville’s Jackson Findlay. Cover photos by Gary Hanner, Will Heath and Bob Crisp. Cover concept and design by Gary Hanner, Will Heath and Jennifer Mashburn.

O’Bryant set to lead Ashville By GARY HANNER

St. Clair Times associate editor

“Resilience,” “determination,” “dedication,” “discipline,” “passion,” “diligent” and “pride.” These are words hanging on the walls of the Ashville weight room. When spring football practice started, there were 52 out for football. Through the weeks and the long hours of a boot camp, weightlifting, and running, the numbers have decreased. While some coaches call it “trimming the fat,” new Ashville head coach Mark O’Bryant focuses on the 28 players who remain, calling them “mentally tough” for the upcoming season. Those are the two most important words right now, and what O’Bryant

hopes will get them through the 2012 season. O’Bryant was an as assistant coach for John Grass at Oxford in 2011. He was a head football coach at Cleveland for two years in 200910. They went 5-6 in 2009 and 9-3 in 2010. They made the playoffs both years. “We are definitely excited,” O’Bryant said. “Our numbers are way down, and we’ve had a lot of kids decide not to play. “It’s been a real tough offseason. When I think about numbers, it’s depressing. But we will fight through that, and it is just another object we have to overcome.” O’Bryant did say that the 28 or so kids who have stuck through this and hung in, will definitely be ready to play football.

“The key to this season is mental toughness,” O’Bryant. “That is where we have put all of our energy into all of everything we do. When it gets down to the fourth quarter, our kids will not quit.” O’Bryant said in order to experience success this season, his team will have to be mentally tough. “Everything bridges off of that, and these guys will not quit,” he said. “If your kids are not mentally tough, you will not have a successful season. I am a firm believer in that.” Ashville is in Class 3, Region 5 along with Glencoe, Saks, Weaver, Piedmont, White Plains, Susan Moore and Cleveland. O’Bryant said Piedmont is the See Ashville, Page 4

The 2012 Ashville Bulldogs open the season Aug. 31 at Springville.

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4 – St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pigskin Preview 2012

Ashville From Page 2

Gary Hanner/St. Clair Times

The 2012 Ashville High School Marching Band.

team to beat in the region. “But I also think Glencoe can play with anybody,” O’Bryant said. “Glencoe will be tough to beat too, but I think Piedmont is the team every opponent has circled on their schedule.” One Ashville player on everyone’s radar as a future college player is junior quarterback E. J. Moss. O’Bryant said Moss has come a long way, and still has a long way to go. “E.J. is a special talent,” O’Bryant said. “He can be as good as he wants to be. He is a great kid, and that is his best quality.” O’Bryant said several young players have stood out thus far, but he hates to single out just a few.

“All of these kids who have stuck it out and are still with us, they have all had great off seasons,” O’Bryant said. “You just don’t go through what they have been through. And I mean that. “We took these guys to boot camp at Ft. McClellan for three days, and they went 22 hours per day. They got two hours a night of sleep. These guys are the ones who did this stuff at boot camp. These are the guys who have stuck it out. It’s not just one kid. All these guys have done what they needed to do to be successful.” The season starts Friday for the Bulldogs on the road as they travel to Springville. Contact Gary Hanner at ghanner@thestclairtimes. com.

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6 – St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012

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Green Wave begins season ranked No. 1 St. Clair Times associate editor

It was in 2008 when the Leeds Green Wave went 15-0 and won the Class 3A state crown. Two years later, they accomplished the same feat, winning the 2010 Class 3A state title again. Now, it’s two years later. Can the Green Wave look for a third state championship in the past five years? “We’re just getting ready to start another year,” said head coach Keith Etheredge. “We have a good group of kids. It’s a young group.” So young that Etheredge is starting a freshman at quarterback. “This will be one of the youngest teams I’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said. “It’s going to be a war this year because we’ve got young kids. With young kids come mistakes. But we’re trying to eliminate that kind of stuff before we get started. “We are trying to emphasis on cutting down mental mistakes and be fundamentally sound.” Etheredge said he wants to continue what his team has done in the past: to run the football offensively. But Etheredge also said

his quarterback can throw the ball this year, and there are also some receivers who can make some big plays. “It sort of changes the mentality of our team, yet we still want to be that team that’s very, very physical on offense and defense,” Etheredge said. “We want to be that team that flies to the football. We do not want to change our mentality altogether, but we do have some ingredients that can let us explore some more options.” What propelled Leeds to the title games in 2008 and 2010 was having players who could run the football. In the 2008 title game at Legion Field in Birmingham, Leeds broke the state rushing record for a 3A state championship game, and two years later, broke its own record. “We have some kids who can run the ball,” Etheredge said. “We’ve had them since I’ve been here. This year, running the ball is going to be more by committee than in years past.” Key players Leeds is losing 14 seniors from last year’s team. Etheredge named several key players who are returning. Players like Ellis Nation III, who will be a

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Gary Hanner/St. Clair Times

The 2012 Leeds High School varsity football team.

freshman this year, and ran the ball hard as an eighthgrader. Ronald Woods was the leading tackler last year as an All-State linebacker, and can also run the football. Jonathan Hagler transferred in last year and can run the football and play strong safety. C.J. Rose is back as is Devin Braxton. What to expect “This could be one of the fastest teams I’ve had here,” Etheredge said. “We have a lot of speed and they get to the ball fast. We are solid at the linebacker and secondary positions. See Leeds, Page 7

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The 2012 Leeds High School varsity cheerleading squad.

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St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012 –7

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Leeds

Aug. 30 Sept. 7 Sept. 14 Sept. 21 Sept. 27 Oct. 5 Oct. 12 Oct. 19 Oct. 26 Nov. 2

From Page 6

We have everybody back at those positions.” Class 3A, Region 4 Leeds will play region games against Midfield, Trinity, Thorsby, Montevallo, Tarrant, B.B. Comer and Central Coosa in a revamped region. Asked if Leeds was the team to beat in the region, Etheredge laughed and said, “No, I’m not going to say that.” “I will say that I believe Trinity and Midfield both have real good teams,” Etheredge said. “Midfield is so athletic and they have tons of athletes.” All total, Leeds has won 12 region or area championships, nine of which have come since 1990.

Gary Hanner/St. Clair Times

The Leeds High School marching band for 2012.

Keys to success Etheredge described the keys to success in two words — staying healthy. “We have four to five guys going both ways,” he said. “If you lose one guy, it’s like losing two

guys really. If you lose two, you’ve really lost four.” Etheredge said they really have to concentrate on cutting down on mistakes because they are so young. Goals

“We want to improve on what we’ve done during the spring,” Etheredge said. “We did well in the spring game. We don’t want to turn the ball over. We have to take care of the football.” Etheredge said the ulti-

Lincoln Trinity Midfield Thorsby Piedmont B.B. Comer Tarrant Central-Coosa Montevallo Alexandria

mate goal is to go 15-0 and win the state championship. He knows it can be done because he has done it two of the past four years. “That is our goal every single year,” he said. “If we lose a game, then our goal is 14-1. We want to set our goals high, and work hard every week to obtain them and get better. “Our goals don’t change

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here at Leeds. We want to be the best football team we can be. We cannot control what anyone else does, but we can control what Leeds does.” Etheredge said he knows the guys are young and going to make mistakes. “But I want them to be mature enough to understand they are going to

See Leeds, Page 27

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8 – St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pigskin Preview 2012

Jay Brown ready for second season at Moody By GARY HANNER St. Clair Times associate editor

As he begins his sophomore season as head coach of the Moody Blue Devils, Jay Brown is looking to improve on last year’s 1-9 season. The 2011 season began in grand fashion for Moody with a 25-19 victory over rival St. Clair County, but nine straight losses ensued. “It’s not what we can do different to improve,” Brown said. “It’s the second year, and the second year is a lot different than the first year. I know the coaches and the players better. “I feel pretty excited about it. We’ve had a whole offseason and another spring. It just makes a whole lot of difference. I feel like we are set to have a whole lot of improvement, which is what you want to have in your second year.” Brown said his team had a great spring, an outstanding summer, and just a great fall thus far.

A young team Only four seniors will start on offense, and they are all on the offensive line. Defensively, there are four seniors starting. “So many of our players are juniors and sophomores, and they will all be back for the 2013 season,” Brown said. “We will have a few kids that play both ways. For instance, our receiving core on offense will be our secondary on defense. Last year, we had so many kids playing both ways, but not as many this year.” Kicking game Brown said he is excited to have senior Corey Clayton on the team this year. “This is his first year to play football, and he will be handling our kicking duties,” Brown said. “He is doing an outstanding job, as he was 5-5 on extra points during the spring game. He kicked a 40-yard field goal recently during a scrimmage. “Devonta Williams will probably be handling the punting duties. Our kickSee Moody, Page 10

The 2012 Moody Blue Devils open the season Aug. 30, at SCCHS.

Will Heath/St. Clair Times

‘It’s not what we can do different to improve. It’s the second year, and the second year is a lot different than the first year.’

—Jay Brown, Moody head coach

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Key players returning Offensively, Brown started with junior quarterback Michael Barron. “This will be his third year to start,” Brown said. “He has really improved a lot. He has really stepped up as a leader as well.” Other key players offensively include running backs Devonte Williams, Devonta Vandergrift, and Jake Crain; wide receivers Rodrellas Garner, Doug Barnes, Terrell Martin, Rylee Davis, and Taderious Campbell; and offensive linemen Josh Morgan, Jacob McQueen, Josh Williams, Ryan McCullough, Daniel Harless, Justin Webber,

and Thomas Powers. Defensively, up front, the Blue Devils will start seniors Tyson Floyd and Ryan Whisenant, along with juniors Trey Kinney and Bradley Casey. Brown also said sophomore Queneris Pollard would contribute up front. Inside linebackers are Trevor Staggs and Curtis Nichols while outside linebackers are Andy Isbell and C. J. Doss. Senior Jesse Adkins is playing his first year of football and is also rotating in at outside linebacker.

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10 – St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 Moody High School varsity cheerleaders.

Pigskin Preview 2012

Gary Hanner/St. Clair Times

The 2012 Moody High School Marching Band.

Photo courtesy of Bill Miller

Moody

Overall Brown said he wants to see improvement in every phase of the game. He knows they are going to be young, but of the 13 seniors who are on the team, 10 started as juniors. “Hopefully, we will improve,” he said. Class 5A, Region 6 Region opponents this year for Moody include Walker, Hayden, Center Point, Mortimer Jordan, Springville, Curry and Pinson Valley. Brown said Pinson Valley and Walker are the two teams to beat in the region. “Center Point won 11 games last year, so you have to throw them in the mix,” Brown said. “It’s a

be to make the playoffs. Make the second season so to speak. Of course, every program has goals higher than that.”

Goals Brown said he would never dream of putting a number on it, but his goal is to try and win a region championship. “I think that is a goal you have to have,” he said. “More importantly, our goal is to be in the playoffs. “Now when we start the season, our goal is to go undefeated and take it one game at a time. If you are 1-0, you can be 2-0, and so on and so forth. To me, you want to be in the playoffs, because you can’t do big, big things unless you’re in the playoffs. “When you are in the playoffs, history has shown that upsets happen. If you’re not in the playoffs, you’re not in the mix. Our first goal should

Keys to success Brown said one of the keys to success offensively is to make sure they are good at both running and throwing the football. “Our key to success will be how well we run the football, because that will open up everything for us,” Brown said. “You never want to be onedimensional in Class 5A

or 6A football. It starts with being able to run the ball. Because then, you can kind of throw the ball when you want to, and not when you have to.” Brown said he feels the offense can create a successful running game. “Defensively, we just don’t want to give up big plays,” Brown said. “We feel like we have some guys defensively who will battle for us. We just can’t allow opponents to score on us on big plays, whether it is running or throwing the ball.”

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Brown said the third key is a solid kicking game. Moody opens the season on the road at St. Clair County in Odenville,

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Pell City Panthers face tough slate in 2012 St. Clair Times

David Shores and the Pell City Panthers look to improve on a successful first season. The Panthers will not have the same athletes on the field in 2012, but Shores believes this team will execute better than last season’s team. “Hopefully, in the second year, we will be more mentally prepared going into each week,” Shores said. “I think we have become a little bit more sound in our scheme because the kids have been in it for a year. I feel better about going out executing what we want to do and correcting our assignments. “Last year’s team was loaded with seniors and guys that had a lot of experience, but we spent the majority of a calendar year breaking bad habits and establishing the groundwork for the future.

Aug. 30 Sept. 7 Sept. 14 Sept. 21 Sept. 28 Oct. 5 Oct. 12 Oct. 19 Oct. 26 Nov. 2

We made a lot of mistake on the mental side of the game, and this year I hope we are mentally ahead of where we were last year.” The Panthers will have to be mentally prepared each week, because they will not have an easy schedule. Pell City replaced all the 5A schools on their schedule last season with tough 6A programs. “It is a lot tougher,” Shores said. “You throw in Hueytown (in the opener) — that was a semifinal team last year in 5A and bumped up to 6A. They do a phenomenal job of coaching their kids. We have Oak Mountain that’s a 6A team and traditionally been competitive in over-the-mountain football there. They have a new coach and a new offensive scheme there. They replace Moody. “We also have Tuscaloosa County who is always strong and very athletic. I think they

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Bob Crisp/St. Clair Times

The 2012 Pell City High School varsity football squad.

are going to be very good. They have a lot of returners coming back, including a third-year quarterback. We have our work cut out for us in our non-region schedule.” The Panthers’ region schedule is also tougher. Pell City will face Oxford, Gadsden City, Clay Chalkville, Huntsville, Lee Huntsville, Grissom and

Albertville in the region this season. “It is a loaded schedule and winning is going to come at a premium,” Shores said. “We are building this program for the future and it is not just for tomorrow. “Hopefully, we will learn a lot this year and continue to improve. Hopefully, in the next few years we will

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An early glimpse

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Ragland looks to continue success under Nix St. Clair Times associate editor

The Ragland Purple Devils experienced their finest season ever last year, going 13-1, and coming within one game of playing for the Class 1A state crown. Coach Brian Mintz retired after the season, and assistant coach Jonathan Nix has stepped in to take over. Nix has coached at Ragland for the past three seasons, and has led the Lady Purple Devil softball team to three straight state crowns. “I’m excited about this opportunity,” Nix said. “I’ve learned a lot in the three years I’ve been over here from Coach Mintz.” Expectations “The first year I was here, we lost to Gaston in Aug. 31 Sept. 7 Sept. 14 Sept. 21 Sept. 28 Oct. 5 Oct. 12 Oct. 19 Oct. 26 Nov. 2

the first round of the state playoffs,” Nix said. We lost in the second round of the playoffs my second year, and then lost in the semifinals last year. Each year, the kids got better and better, and last year was their senior season.” Nix said this year, a new identity has to be made with this group. “Last year, those seniors gave a great example and taught these guys how to be leaders, what it takes to win ballgames, and how to prepare for ballgames the right way. The biggest thing last year was how they practiced. They understood they had an opportunity to get better, and they did.” Commit to finish Nix said their slogan this year is ‘commit to finish.’

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Ragland From Page 16

“We were one game away from being at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, playing for a state title,” Nix said. “We went to the game and watched Marion County win it. That was the team that had beat us the week before, and it put a bitter taste in our mouth. We were so close.” So close Ragland has been “so close” in several sports. The boy’s basketball team lost to Cedar Bluff in the finals of the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State University; the girl’s basketball team advanced to the Final Four at the BJCC for the second year in a row. “We really felt like basketball didn’t finish at the end of their seasons,” Nix said. “The baseball team won its area by beating Gaston, and then lost to Gaston in the second round of the state playoffs. So, the baseball guys didn’t finish. The volleyball team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. “Our motto in all sports right now is ‘Commit to Finish.’” Nix said the nucleus of the teams is the same in all sports, and last year was the best season in the history of Ragland High sports. “Now, we are looking to go to the next step, taking it one step further,” Nix said.

Key players returning Nix said Devane Brewster has had a great offseason, and will see plenty of playing time at running back and defensive end. Nix said Jimmy Brock had the best offseason since he (Nix) has been at Ragland. “Brock made his workouts, he made the commitment, he did the little things this summer, and that is a huge step for him of being a better leader for this team,” Nix said. Other players Nix mentioned included Dakota Campbell, Sawyer Merritt, Chandler Caywood, Trez Carsons, Nick Smith, and KiJana Lindsay. Smith and Lindsey are competing for the quarterback position, and Nix said both have different strengths they bring to the table as the offensive leaders. “In our classification and at our level, we try to teach each player to have a primary position and then a backup position,” Nix said. “So every kid has two positions on offense and

two positions on defense they are learning.” Class 1A, Region 6 After the reclassification, Ragland remained in the same region with Appalachian. All the other teams are new. Teams like Addison, Meek, Falkville, Sumiton Christian, Southeastern, and Shades Mountain Christian. “Appalachian is one of our top rival games every year,” Nix said. “There are only two 9-team regions in the state, and they are both in Class 1A, and Ragland is in one of them.” Nix said they found out in the middle of May that Jefferson Christian has shut down its football program, so Ragland is idle the first week of the regular season. “We really don’t like being open week one, but there is really nothing we can do,” he said. “There were no options. We open the season in week two with a region game on the road against Addison. That could be one of the toughest games we play all season. With the tradition Addison has had in year’s past, this could be one of the better region games of the year.”

said he did not know if his Purple Devils were the team to beat in the region or not. “Everyone looks at last year’s record,” Nix said. “If they are going based on that, then… For some reason, every team we play gets up for us. I guess we got the bull’seye on our backs. We have to be ready week in, week out.” Keys to success

“We need to continue to come in every day with a clean slate, and with the understanding that we all need to work hard at practice to be successful on Friday nights,” Nix said. “Working hard at practice and working hard in the weight room are keys to a successful season. “I feel like we have one of the best weight rooms in Class 1A. Our kids are

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excited about that, and they have put in a lot of hard work and sweat this summer in the weight room. They have been committed to it, and we can see it on the field. We can see how much stronger they are.” Nix also said it is very important for these kids to do the little things right at See Ragland, Page 27

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Seniors lost Ten seniors were lost from last year’s squad, and Nix said some key spots on defense opened up as a result. “That’s an opportunity for some of these new guys to step up,” Nix said.

“Some of these guys got some experience late in ballgames last year. There were many games last year where our first team offense and first team defense did not play after halftime. A lot of backups got varsity reps last year, and we hope that pays a lot of dividends for us this year.”

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St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012 – 19

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20 – St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pigskin Preview 2012

Saints ready to compete By GARY HANNER St. Clair Times associate editor

Coach Alan Lee is starting his second season of his third go-round at St. Clair County High School. Lee and the Saints are looking to improve on their 2011 record of 46. Gone are eight seniors from last year’s squad, so Lee is bringing back some who saw quality playing time a year ago. “Last year, I came in new, and I did not even get

in a spring training,” Lee said. “Players were adjusting to a change in a head coach, and then us coaches did not know position by position where everyone needed to be. We were kind of evaluating even though the season had started. Even though we had some guys who were starters at the beginning of the year, there were some changes made as the year went on.” Lee said toward the end of the season, he and the See Saints, Page 21

Gary Hanner/St. Clair Times

The 2012 St. Clair County Saints varsity football team.

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The 2012 St. Clair Co. High School marching band.

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Saints

From Page 20

coaches pretty much had ideas who were the best ones who needed to be in certain positions. With a year under his belt with this group, Lee is excited about what 2012 holds for his team. Key players returning Two seniors on the offensive line include right tackle Levi Green and center Josh Richie. “We really do have a good group of kids on the offensive line, and that will be one of our team strengths,” Lee said. Matt Hicks is returning as quarterback. Although he was not the starter at the beginning of 2011, Hicks took over about halfway through the season. Running back Kartez Carr is returning for his senior season. “Kartez has worked very, very hard during the offseason,” Lee said. “He has shown a good attitude and good leadership. Due to his work ethic during the offseason, I’m expecting him to have a very good year.” Other offensive leaders Lee named included senior wide receiver Josh Hardrick, skill player Juan Montgomery and Justin Phillips, who moved to fullback. “All these players I’ve named have to turn around and be key leaders on defense as well,” Lee said. “Also on defense, Josh Hardin has been starting at defensive end since he

was a freshman. He will really be a leader on the defensive side of the ball for us.” Other defensive leaders Lee named included senior linebacker Billy Kirby, junior defensive lineman Justin Armstrong, Willie Buckhanon, Chris Holston, Demarcus Jackson and Dalton Taylor. Class 4A, Region 6 With the realignment in region action starting this fall, the Saints still share a region with Oneonta and Locust Fork. This year Guntersville, Douglas, Crossville, Fairview and Sardis join the region. Lee said Oneonta remains the team to beat. “You know they are going to be real strong again,” Lee said. “We play them in week eight of the season, so that is going to be a big one for us. Oneonta went pretty deep in the playoffs last year. They have a good group coming back. “Guntersville always has a good program, and were in the playoffs last year. I just haven’t seen a lot of film on the other teams yet because they are new to us in our region. I do hear that Sardis has a huge offensive line and a real good running back. I’m hearing that Fairview has a real good quarterback.” Non-region games are against Moody, Cleburne County and Springville. Goals Lee said he is hopeful the players can take

the way they progressed through the season last year, and apply it. “Apply what we’ve learned,” Lee said. “These kids have worked very hard during winter workouts, spring practice, and during the summer. Our goal is just to continue to improve. “Hopefully, with our experience this year, we will line up with a lot more confidence on Friday nights. But we have to take the progress that we’ve made off the field and take it and apply it on the field.” Keys to a successful season “Hopefully, with the progress that we’ve made, and the experience that we have, we’re going to be able to score more this year,” he said. “I do believe our defense is going to play better. We cannot make the mistakes that we’ve made in the past and expect to win.” Overcoming adversity will also be a key, according to the head coach. “We have to be able to overcome adversity,” Lee said. “Last year, with the inexperience, we had trouble doing that. This year when things go bad in a game, we have to overcome it.” SCCHS opens the season Thursday at home against the Moody Blue Devils. Contact Gary Hanner at ghanner@thestclairtimes. com.

‘This year when things go bad in a game, we have to overcome it.’

Gary Hanner/St. Clair Times

The 2012 St. Clair Co. High School varsity cheerleading squad.

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22 – St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pigskin Preview 2012

Springville back in 5A for the 2012 season By GARY HANNER St. Clair Times associate editor

Key players returning Seniors Zack Mayo, Jackson Findlay, Jay Lipscomb and Jake Keiser are all returning. “I expect a lot out of these four seniors,” Maple said. “Because our numbers are down, I appreciate everything our junior high coaches are doing and creating interest in our younger players.” Maple said some of those 22 freshmen would have to be thrown into the fire on Friday nights. Being competitive “We’re looking to compete and win some ballgames,” Maple said. “I’m excited about this senior bunch we’ve had for four years. We do have a real

Gary Hanner/St. Clair Times

The 2012 Springville High Tigers varsity football team.

big junior class; I think there are 12 of them, and our sophomore class is not

Aug. 31 Sept. 7 Sept. 14 Sept. 21 Sept. 28 Oct. 5 Oct. 12 Oct. 19 Oct. 26 Nov. 2

quite that big. We may have six sophomores. “As a high school coach,

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In the 2006 season, the Springville Tigers made a jump from Class 3A to Class 5A. From 20002005, the Tigers made the playoffs each year in Class 3A, with an incredible record of 57-16. Since that jump, there were four years in Class 5A, and two years in Class 4A, and a six-year record was 30-32, with two playoff appearances. This year, the Tigers move back to Class 5A. “It is no secret that we have a young team,” Maple said. “We have 22 freshmen and a total of 49 kids on the team. We only have eight seniors, and only five of them played last year.” Springville lost 14 seniors from the 2011 squad to graduation. “It’s great when you have a lot of seniors, but not when you’re trying to rebuild,” Maple said.

Back to Class 5A Maple said he thought “for sure” his team would stay in Class 4A another two years. Instead, the Tigers are in 5A Region 6, along with Center Point, Curry, Hayden, Moody, Mortimer Jordan, Pinson Valley and Walker. “I think we are the sixth smallest 5A school in the state,” Maple said. Maple said the team to beat in the region is Pinson Valley. “Matt (Glover) is loaded over there,” Maple said. “It would not surprise me if Pinson Valley competed for a state title this year. “Mortimer Jordan has a great quarterback. Walker is always Walker and going to win nine to 10 games a year. Center Point is going to be athletic. Moody will be better. They had some young players last year, and

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Tigers From Page 22

he (Coach Jay Brown) has some talent returning.”

Gary Hanner/St. Clair Times

The 2012 Springville High School varsity cheerleading squad.

Goals “We want to win every game, and we want to win a state championship,” Maple said. “Nothing’s changed, but we want to be competitive from the start — game one. We need to be competitive on the practice field. “The whole thing with me is changing their mindset. We have a lot of young kids playing and they don’t realize the speed of the game, nor the mental toughness they

will need.” Keys to success Maple said his greatest challenge will be preparing the young players to play at the varsity level. “It is so much different

than playing at the junior high level,” Maple said. “Our work ethic would be another key to success. We need to be able

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24 – St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pigskin Preview 2012

Farmer comes out of retirement to lead VC By GARY HANNER St. Clair Times associate editor

Ashville native Raymond Farmer said it was God that brought Victory Christian to his attention one day. Then, four weeks later, he received a telephone call — the Lions were looking for a new head football coach. Now, when Victory Christian lines up to play against the Alabama School for the Deaf Friday, Aug. 31, Farmer will begin his 43rd year on the sidelines, his 29th year as head coach. “I really had no idea I would be coaching again,” Farmer said. “I feel like this is something I need to do. I feel like I can help this program and help the kids.” Coach Farmer Farmer, 69, came out of retirement to coach the Lions. He endured the 2-8 and 3-7 seasons throughout his career, but he also experienced winning a state title as his Etowah Blue Devil teams played for three consecutive state championships from 199799. It was that 1999 season that Etowah won its state championship. Farmer is quick to tell you he is from the old school, hard-nosed, believes in discipline and expects discipline from his players. His coaching career began in 1966 as an assistant coach at HewittTrussville. In 28 seasons as a head coach, Farmer has an overall record of 173130-2. “It’s not about the winning and losing; it’s about seeing kids develop and

building relationships,” Farmer said. “It’s about helping kids and taking them where they will not take themselves.” Looking at the numbers The number of bodies out for football this year at Victory Christian is between 30 and 40. “It depends on if they are all here,” Farmer said. “We are definitely young. Of the 36 players, seven of them are upperclassmen, meaning 10th through 12th grade. The rest of them are seventh, eighth and ninth-graders.” Farmer said he hopes to lay a foundation. “It’s just like building a house,” Farmer said. “You start with a foundation. “I saw a film one time about Coach Vince Lombardi. He got a football, and the first thing he said was, ‘This is a football.’ That’s what we’re doing.” Class 2A Farmer said the school made the AHSAA’s 2A classification by two students. “We’re not complaining, but that’s just the way it is,” Farmer said. “Some of our seventh and eighth grade players are going to be spot players for us in different positions. “It’s not the best situation in the world, but they said they were not looking for a quick fix. And I told them they were not going to get one.” Great group “When I met with the parents four weeks ago, I told them if they were serious about having a football See Victory, Page 26

The 2012 Victory Christian Lions travel to ASD Aug. 31 in the season opener. Aug. 31 Sept. 7 Sept. 14 Sept. 21 Sept. 28 Oct. 5 Oct. 12 Oct. 19 Oct. 26 Nov. 2

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26 – St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pigskin Preview 2012

Victory

Teams to beat in Region 6 Farmer said to put all the teams in a hat and draw for a champion. “Take your pick,” he said. “Walter Wellborn, Fultondale, Vincent, Woodland — it’s a firing squad.” Other teams in the region include Ohatchee, Pleasant Valley and Ranburne. The Lions end the regular season against Ragland, who went 13-1 in 2011. “We will probably be at a disadvantage in every game we play,” Farmer said. “But we hope we can do some things where we take some chances and do some things that I’ve ordinarily done.” Key players The Lions will start a freshman quarterback, Easton Hopkins. “He has a whole lot of ability, but just not enough confidence in himself just yet,” Farmer said. “But that confidence will change with game experience. He has tremendous speed, but never played the quarterback position.” Easton’s older brother, Dawson, will be a key at running back. “There are other players who stand out right now, I just haven’t learned all their names yet,” Farmer said. “We have a couple of players at tight end, and our center have

Contact Gary Hanner at ghanner@thestclairtimes.com.

Submitted photo

The 2012 Victory Christian Lions varsity cheerleaders.

‘I told the parents if they were serious about having a football program, they need to have their kids at practice at 6 a.m the next morning. For 18 straight days, a large majority of the players were there. That was exciting.’

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program, they needed to have their kids at practice at 6 a.m. the next morning,” Farmer said. “For 18 straight days, a huge majority of the players were at practice at 6 a.m. That was encouraging.”

had good practices. We have some kids who can run.” Coaching staff Farmer has asked one of his former players at Ashville to come with him and help as an assistant coach. Mike Sheffield played for Farmer from 1968-1972. Also coaching are Farmer’s brother, Randy, and Kinsman Barber. “This is one of the best coaching staffs I have been a part of,” Farmer said. “The reason it is such a good staff is because they all love kids.” Victory Christian’s last win in football was during the 2009 season. After going 17-3 during the 2008-09 seasons, the Lions were 0-18 the past two years. The season starts Aug. 31, on the road against the Alabama School for the Deaf.

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St. Clair Times, Thursday, August 30, 2012 – 27

Pigskin Preview 2012

Tigers

From Page 23

to instill the little things inside them. Not just this year, but every year. We want to play with integrity and class. “Our motto used to be, ‘We are going to outwork everybody

Pell City From Page 12

all of our skill guys back,” Shores said. “Austin Martin, who is really a third-year starter—he started a few games as a sophomore—but he has continued to improve. He has become a better leader and a better quarterback. His arm strength has gotten 10 times stronger than it was last year. He has had a very good spring and summer. We are excited about his potential. “Ira Burch is probably the most dynamic offen-

Ragland

in the state. In the weight room, on the practice field and on Friday nights.’ That’s what we have tried to teach our kids. “That not only goes back to me, but it also goes back to our faculty and our principal, Dr. Robert Harris. We all want to

sive player. He is a thirdyear starter as well, and we are excited about him. We are going to get the ball to him as much as we can and in every way that we can. He can also play on the defensive side of the football in the defensive backfield. “Demaurian Wills is our fullback. He will carry the load for us out of the backfield. He is a 240-pound guy that is shifty and has great balance. He is hard to tackle. Offensively, we have a lot of guys back. Casey Bishop, our tight

From Page 18

school. “Making sure they are taking care of their grades,” he said. “Making sure they are presenting good character and work ethic in the classroom. I think that transfers over to the practice field. The better student they are, the better they are going to come to the practice field and learn.” Goals

leyball team, it doesn’t matter. “Because down the road, these kids are going to be working with a team. They will have a boss, someone over them, and someone under them. There will be four to five people they will have to work with. They will have to work inside that group.

end /flex guy, is back. He is a returning starter, and he has continued to get better.” Shores believes the offensive line is the weak spot going into the season.

spring until now. Hopefully they will keep that up, stay healthy and get mental reps, because we are going to need them.” The Panthers only return five starters on defense this season.

“We have replaced four starters,” Shores said. “Our center, Brandon Bassett, is our only returning player back on the line. He is surrounded by a lot of guys that are younger and inexperienced. Offensive line is probably our most improved unit since the

“Our returning guys are Alex Ennis, he moved down from safety to linebacker,” Shores said. “Chris Santo was our Sam linebacker, and he has moved to wheel linebacker. Kevin Bush is one of our starting corners. We have Logan Dobbs who has moved from free safety to strong safety. “ Other than that, we are

“Our goal is to max out,” Nix said. “We look at it as to where can we get our kids to where they are maxed out. We do not set goals of going undefeated or winning a state championship. I want to see a kid max out every day. “We want to come in every day with a clean slate, and then today, can I, as a coach, make a player max out to his potential. I feel like if a kid can max out his potential every day, then the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”

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That’s their team.” Springville opens the season at home Friday, Aug. 31, against Ashville. The Tigers also play St. Clair and Moody at home this year.

Contact Gary Hanner at ghanner@thestclairtimes.com.

Leeds

From Page 7

a new front. We have four new linemen. We have a new wheel linebacker. We are just a young football team this year, but I think maturity-wise, as far as our mental knowledge of skill and game, has improved.” Pell City opens at Hueytown on Thursday, Aug. 30.

make mistakes, but they need to overcome those mistakes,” he said. “I want them to play with class and character and do it the right way.” Leeds opens the season Thursday on the road at Lincoln.

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St. Clair Times - High School Football  

The special St. Clair Times section covering 2012 high school football.

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