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THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

OVER THE MOUNTAIN

JOURNAL

2011 OTM High School Football Preview Team Profiles, Schedules, Team Photos and Rosters, Key Players to Watch and More!

BRIARWOOD

BEACH MUSIC page 6

HOMEWOOD

BACK TO THE TOP page 8

HOOVER

DON'T LOOK BACK page 10

JOHN CARROLL

MERCHANT'S WALK page 12

MOUNTAIN BROOK

REMEMBER SPARTANS page 14

OAK MOUNTAIN

VETERANS' DAY page 16

SPAIN PARK

LIVING IN THE MOMENT page 18

VESTAVIA

HISTORY CHANNEL page 20 PLUS OTM OVERVIEW COLLEGE DAYS PROFILE


2 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Flying Colors OTM OVERVIEW

2011 Should Be Banner Year For Hoover and Others

BY LEE DAVIS JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

S

ome people would consider the Josh Niblett years to be lean ones for Hoover football. After all, the Bucs have won only a single Class 6A championship since Niblett took over the program nearly four years ago. On the positive side, Hoover has appeared in the championship game every year since Niblett opened up shop on Buccaneer Lane. Last season, Hoover came painfully close to winning its second consecutive title. A missed extra point and a 22-yard field goal attempt that hooked slightly off course were all that stood between the Bucs and victory in a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to Daphne. Hoover enters 2011 with a determination to make up those painful final inches and bring the big blue trophy home. Sam Gilliken steps in as the Bucs’ quarterback and should carry on the tradition of great quarterbacks in his school’s past. And Hoover’s defense could be one of the best in the state. The Bucs have their weaknesses, but clearly they are the preseason favorites for the Class 6A Region 6 title – and beyond. Niblett’s men will have an early test in the season opener when they face defending national champion South Panola, Miss., in a televised game on ESPN. Standing in Hoover’s way, however, is archrival Vestavia Hills. Coach Buddy Anderson begins his 34th season as the head coach of the Rebels and has built his team into one of the state’s perennial powerhouses. Despite an abundance of youth, the Rebels rolled to an impressive 9-3 record in 2010. A year older and a year wiser, Vestavia looks ready to roll. The hottest Rebel of them all may be senior tailback Georgie Salem, one of Alabama’s finest running backs. As always, Vestavia’s annual battle with Hoover will be one of metro Birmingham’s most anticipated match-ups, but even if the Rebels come up short, they’ll be in the hunt for a prime playoff spot. In nearly four decades as a head coach, Anderson has seen it all, and experience always counts. Mountain Brook might have been the Comeback Team of the Year in 2010. The

SENIOR LEADERSHIP: Homewood's Stephen Baggett, above left, should be one of the area's most feared passers this year. Mountain Brook's Ed Aldag, above, guided the Spartans to a stellar 11-3 record last year. Briarwood's Ben Craft, above right is outstanding as a runner, passer and field general. Spartans finished with a stellar 11-3 record, vastly surpassing the previous year’s 4-6 embarrassment. With senior quarterback Ed Aldag at the controls, Mountain Brook should be headed to another banner season. The Spartan defense is comparatively youthful but looked impressive against the veteran offensive unit in spring drills. It’s hard to find a coach anywhere who is a better match for his program than Chris Yeager is for Mountain Brook, and chemistry means a lot in football. The Spartans may not win 11 games this season, but they can come close. It was a quiet summer at Spain Park, which is very good news. Last season the controversial dismissal of head coach David Shores overshadowed anything the players did on the field. Assistant Ben Berguson took over as interim head coach, leading the team to a very respectable 6-6 mark. For his trouble, Berguson was not named the permanent head coach. Instead, the Jaguar brass hired Chip Lindsey, a former Hoover assistant, who built a winner at Lassiter High School in Georgia. Lindsey inherits plenty of talent, includ-

Journal file photos

ing quarterback Nick Mullens. If Spain Park can put the past behind it and look toward the future, the Jaguars could be in for a huge season. This might even be the year that they knock off their cross-town rival. There’s a new coach at Homewood, too. Doug Goodwin came from Russellville to succeed Dickey Wright, who resigned in 2010. Goodwin was ultra-successful in stops at Demopolis and Russellville, where he built a record of 211-81. His hiring marked the first time that Homewood reached outside its athletic family to hire a football coach since Gerald Gann was brought in from Berry in 1979. Although the new coach’s credentials are impressive, he has never seen tougher opposition than what he will face in Class 6A’s Region 6, including the likes of Hoover, Vestavia and Mountain Brook. But on the positive side, the Patriots seem to be responding to their new coach’s fresh approach. Homewood may not contend for the region title, but the Patriots could have a large say in who does emerge victorious. Quarterback Stephen Baggett lost some top targets due to graduation, but

he is still one of metro Birmingham’s most feared passers. Oak Mountain fans have been patient with Coach Jeff Harris as he has steadily rebuilt the program. This could be the year that the patience and work pays off. The Eagles should be vastly improved over last season’s 2-8 record. One big problem for Oak Mountain in 2010 was its defense, which averaged giving up nearly 30 points per game. That unit will be much stronger, and the offense, led by wide receiver Bradley Bostick, should be better as well. Barring a rash of injuries, the Eagles have a solid shot at a winning season. Briarwood has been a consistent power ever since Fred Yancey took over the program 22 years ago. And while the Lions fell just short of the Class 5A title last season, they are a heavy favorite to bring home the big blue trophy in 2011. Yancey’s team is talented and deep everywhere. Senior quarterback Ben Craft is outstanding as a runner, passer and field general. Briarwood has won three state championships in Yancey’s long and successful tenure, and the 2011 edition of the Lions could be his best team yet. Last year, an early season injury to star running back Adric Merchant turned a potentially great season for John Carroll Catholic into merely a good one. The Cavs’ 6-4 record was a bit of a disappointment, but there’s no doubt that Coach Chris Musso has the program moving in the right direction. Beginning his fourth year with the Cavaliers, Musso has a strong senior class. One member of that class is Daniel Bostick, who’s almost certain to be one of the area’s top linebackers. Carroll’s schedule is brutal, but the Cavs should post another winning season. There’s a new head coach at Shades Mountain Christian. If that sentence sounds familiar, that’s because the Eagle program has already had four head coaches in its brief history. The new coach is Joel Dunn as former coach Jonathan Loudermilk moves back to the defensive coordinator spot. Shades Mountain’s program is growing steadily but still has a way to go before becoming truly competitive. But hope always springs eternal.❖


OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 3


4 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Chasing His Dream

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

COLLEGE DAYS PROFILE

UAB's Daniel Hopes for Super Senior Season BY CARY ESTES

JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

F

our years ago, Chase Daniel faced a choice that has confronted teenagers for years as they prepared to go to college. Should he remain close to home, or travel far away? Actually, Daniel’s choice was a little more extreme than that, at least if he wanted a scholarship to play Division I football. The Hoover High School defensive back could stay 10 minutes from home and attend UAB, or he could land more than 4,000 miles and part of an ocean away at the University of Hawaii. “Hawaii would be nice, but that was just too far for me,” Daniel said with a smile. So Daniel chose UAB, and in one aspect it turned out to be an excellent decision. Daniel has battled injuries each of the past two seasons, including a pair of concussions in 2009. He said it would have been considerably more difficult to have dealt with the injuries without the nearby support of family and friends. “It was really nice that I was so close to home,” Daniel said. “My dad could come down here and support me, and if I needed to go home and rest it was just right down the road. They could take care of me. “And it’s good being at UAB, one of the top medical schools. It just really worked out for me.” Now Daniel hopes things will work out for him on the football field, as he enters his senior season at UAB. It is his final chance to revive a playing career that for years had been nothing but positive. Daniel was a four-year letter-winner at Hoover from 2004-07 and played on two Class 6A championship teams. He was part of the celebrated team that was featured on the highly rated MTV show “Two-ADays.” Then when he arrived at UAB, he played in all 12 games as a freshman, starting six of them at strong safety. He finished tied for third on the team in tackles with 47 and had two interceptions. He appeared poised to become an important fixture on the UAB defense. “My freshman year was awesome,” Daniel said. “I enjoyed making new friends on the team and playing with those guys. I was trying to get into that leader role that I wanted to have here.” The injuries changed everything. The problems began in the third game of his sophomore season, against Troy, when Daniel was hit in the head while colliding with a wide receiver. He said he remained in the game for a few more plays but eventually told the trainers he didn’t feel right, and they removed him. The concussion was minor, and Daniel was back in the lineup the following game. But two weeks later against Ole Miss, he suffered another concussion while making a tackle. An MRI revealed that he had a small contusion on his brain, sidelining him for the rest of the season. “It was frustrating, but you have to be

Chase Daniel was a four-year letterwinner at Hoover from 2004-07 and played on two Class 6A championship teams. He was part of the celebrated team that was featured on the highly rated MTV show “Two-A-Days.” Photos courtesy UAB Athletics

cautious,” Daniel said. “You have to understand that football is just a game. There’s no reason to risk your life for it. “It was disappointing, no doubt, but you just have to keep going. There was nothing I could do about it except keep looking forward.” Despite his limited playing time in 2009, Daniel still accumulated 30 tackles and three interceptions. He was optimistic that he would be able to return to action in 2010

and pick right back up where he left off. The problem was, Daniel was under doctor’s orders not to work out for several months. He was not even allowed to run. Without a physical offseason training program, Daniel lost both strength and stamina, and he said he entered the 2010 season far from 100 percent. “I didn’t get a full recovery like I wanted to get,” he said. Daniel’s 2010 season came to an end

on a play that could have been one of the highlights of his college career. In the eighth game of the year against Southern Mississippi, Daniel ended a USM drive by picking up a fumble and returning the ball 8 yards. When he was tackled, however, Daniel suffered a separated shoulder. Once again, his season was over prematurely. “It wasn’t a good time for me,” Daniel said. But all that is in the past, and now Daniel’s focus is squarely on the upcoming season. Former Memphis head coach Tommy West has joined the UAB staff as defensive coordinator, and Daniel said the players are responding to West’s preferred style of play. “Coach West has come in here and turned things around,” Daniel said. “We have more excitement out on the field. We’ve simplified the defense where we can all be on the same page. We just sort of fly around and make plays this year. “We’re coming together more as a defense. We’re hanging out with each other more, meeting together. We’re just building relationships with each other, like a family.” Of course, whenever Daniel wants to see his real family, he knows they are only a short drive away. He occasionally attends Hoover practice to watch his younger brother, senior running back Dakota Daniel. And he goes to Hoover games whenever his schedule allows, including the Bucs’ 7-6 loss in last year’s Class 6A state championship game. “That was a tough one,” Daniel said. “But they have a lot of good players again this year, guys who can make plays and have bought into the program. “Hoover is one of those programs that should always be one of the top teams. I keep up with them all the time because that’s where I’m from. You’ve got to follow your team.”❖


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MOUNTAIN BROOK SPORTING GOODS �������� ���������������������������������������� �������������������������������������� ����������������������������

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2011 Briarwood High School Football Schedule Date

Aug. 26 Sept. 2 Sept. 9 Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 7 Oct. 14 Oct. 21 Oct. 27

Opponent

Location

Eagle’s Landing Academy Away Moody Away Erwin HOME Chelsea Away Vestavia Hills HOME Talladega HOME Pinson Valley HOME Shelby County Away Sylacauga Away Anniston Away

Date

Opponent

Jacksonville Pleasant Grove McAdory Parker Chelsea Wenonah Woodlawn Hueytown Fairfield Thompson

Location HOME Away HOME Away HOME HOME Away HOME Away Away

2011 Spain Park High School Football Schedule Date

Aug. 27 Sept. 2 Sept. 9 Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 7 Oct. 14 Oct. 21 Oct. 27

Opponent

Location

Noxubee County (Miss.) Hoover Homewood Oak Mountain Bob Jones Mountain Brook Vestavia Hills Pelham Thompson Clay-Chalkville

HOME HOME HOME Away Away HOME Away Away HOME HOME

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Date

Aug. 26 Sept. 2 Sept. 9 Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 7 Oct. 14 Oct. 21 Oct. 28

Opponent

Bessemer Thompson Spain Park Mountain Brook Huntsville Vestavia Hills Hoover Oak Mountain Pelham Grissom

Location Away HOME Away HOME HOME HOME Away HOME Away Away

2011 Hoover High School Football Schedule Date

Aug. 27 Sept. 2 Sept. 9 Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 7 Oct. 14 Oct. 21 Oct. 27

Date

Opponent

Shades Valley Vestavia Hills Pelham Homewood Grissom Spain Park Oak Mountain Thompson Hoover Buckhorn

Location Away HOME HOME Away Away Away HOME Away HOME HOME

Date

Aug. 26 Sept. 2 Sept. 9 Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 6 Oct. 14 Oct. 21 Oct. 28

Date

Opponent

Parkway Christian Pickens County Autaugaville Maplesville Thorsby Holy Spirit Sunshine Keith John Essex Isabel

Location HOME HOME HOME Away Away Away Away HOME Away HOME

Location HOME Away HOME HOME Away Away HOME Away Away HOME

Opponent

Buckhorn Pelham Hoover Spain Park Northridge Thompson Mountain Brook Homewood Vestavia Hills Pinson Valley

Location Away HOME Away HOME HOME HOME Away Away HOME Away

2011 Vestavia High School Football Schedule

2011 Shades Mountain Christian High School Football Schedule Aug. 26 Sept. 2 Sept. 9 Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 7 Oct. 14 Oct. 21 Oct. 28

Opponent

South Panola (Miss) Spain Park Oak Mountain Thompson Gadsden City Pelham Homewood Vestavia Hills Mountain Brook Bob Jones

2011 Oak Mtn. High School Football Schedule

2011 Mtn. Brook. High School Football Schedule Aug. 26 Sept. 2 Sept. 9 Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 6 Oct. 14 Oct. 21 Oct. 28

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2011 Homewood High School Football Schedule

2011 John Carroll High School Football Schedule Aug. 26 Sept. 2 Sept. 9 Sept. 15 Sept. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 7 Oct. 13 Oct. 21 Oct. 28

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 5

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Date

Aug. 26 Sept. 2 Sept. 9 Sept. 16 Sept. 23 Sept. 30 Oct. 7 Oct. 14 Oct. 21 Oct. 28

Opponent

Florence Mountain Brook Thompson Pelham Briarwood Homewood Spain Park Hoover Oak Mountain Shades Valley

Location HOME Away Away HOME Away Away HOME HOME Away HOME


6 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Members of the 2011 Briarwood Christian High School varsity football team include: Cole Pearson, Ben Craft, Zach Bekken, Kalan Reed, Regan White, Matthew Furuto, Jon Stapleton, Keith Shamblin, Kevin McKelvey, Tanner Cunningham, Daniel Robert, Sam Morris, Sam Whitaker, Phillip Smith, Barnes Bankston, Chase Clark, Will Edwards, Chad Davis, Justin Palmer, Ethan Simmons, Conner Lee, Gunner Patrick. Alex Bisignani, Will Byers, Matthew Caldwell, Gabe Partain, Keaton Russell, William Rutledge, Brayden Housel, Collier Smith, Luke Cunningham, Gabe Schrade, Phillip Botes, Jordan Carroll, Michael Day, Scottie Dreher, Alex Patillo, David Townes, Michael Belling, John Dutton, Tom Muir Taylor, Roy Gilbert, Victor Jerald, Zach Harrison, David Hodges, Andrew Schaper, Benson Mulvaney, Chris Walz, John Roberson, Drew Campbell, Collier Kauffman, Reagan Reeves, Jake Bracewell, Patrick Morton, Jake Proctor, Jonathan Paramore, Tyler Mitchell, Kyle Jennings, Brooks Bell, Dahler Battle, Chris Tyra, Matthew Drennen, Wesley Jones, Jared Core, Evan Russell, Arjan Meter, Andrew McGehee, Karson Jones, Jake Overstreet, Jake Whaley, Jackson Thomas, Nick Maxey, Tim Crenshaw, Landon Donahoo, R.J. Thompson, Johnny Hodges, Preston Pittman, Kaleb Dillard, Camdon Condo, Taylor Bussell, Michael Lathem, Sawyer McKenzie, Will Dyson, Phillip Johnston, Devin Bowman, Harlan Bailey, James Graham, Blake Coggins, Jim Bosley, Doug Battle, Zach Sharp, Garon McGuire, Wade Cline, Daniel Scott, Kurt Holiday and Canon Smith.

BRIARWOOD

Beach Music

program on the top ten list every year.” Two decades and three state championships later, Yancey has reached that goal, as his Lions are always a factor in the Class 5A championship chase. Briarwood just barely missed out on another title last

December, losing to Spanish Fort 14-0 in the final game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. “Even though we were disappointed to lose to Spanish Fort, last year was a special season,” said Yancey. “And we’d like to get back in that championship game and do

Briarwood Looks Ready To Win Another State Title Key Players to Watch BY LEE DAVIS

JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

B

elieve it or not, there was a time when Briarwood Christian was not a perennial football power in Alabama. About 22 years ago, a coach from Memphis named Fred Yancey was hired to save the struggling Lion program from a string of dreary losing seasons. But before starting his new job, Yancey spent a few days at the beach along Gulf Shores. Ironically, that idyllic setting was where the new coach got his vision for the future of Briarwood football. “I was just relaxing at the beach, reading the local newspaper,” Yancey recalled. “I didn’t know much about high school football in Alabama. “Then I saw a list of the pre-season top ten for all the state’s classifications. Briarwood wasn’t even mentioned. I decided that day that I wanted to get the

Leading Briarwood in 2011 are, from left, front: Cole Pearson and Matthew Furuto. Standing: Jackson Thomas, coach Fred Yancey and Jake Whaley.

better this time.” With the talent on hand, the Lions look very capable of winning that elusive title. Briarwood’s team is talented, deep and hungry, and you don’t have to be a football genius to know that’s a dangerous trifecta. “I don’t like to look at it this way, but most of our kids will consider it a disappointing year if we don’t win the state championship,” said Yancey. “For me, it’s more important that the kids have a good experience from playing high school football – but I don’t mind telling you, I’d like to win it, too.” Briarwood’s offense is led by senior quarterback Ben Craft, who has already committed to UAB. Yancey gives Craft a strong vote of confidence. “Ben will probably be one of the best quarterbacks in the area,” said the coach. “He’s a fine runner and passer, and he’s a

Quick Facts Head Coach: Fred Yancey 2010 Record: 13-2 Stadium: Lion Pride Field (4,000) Region: Class 5A Region 5 (Chelsea, Erwin, Moody, Pinson Valley, Shelby County, Sylacauga, Talladega) State Championships: 1977, 1998, 1999, 2003.


THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 7

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

backfield,” said Yancey. “We have to run a lot of plays to get down the field. We don’t have the one guy who scares everybody to death every time he touches the football.” Date Opponent Location Daniel Robert, a junior, is a standout at wide Eagle’s Landing Away Aug. 26 receiver. Robert – also an outstanding baseball playSept. 2 Moody Away er – has good speed and Sept. 9 Erwin HOME excellent hands. Senior Kevin McKelvey will also Sept. 16 Chelsea Away see a lot of playing time at wide receiver. Cole Sept. 23 Vestavia Hills HOME Pearson is in the picture as well. Sept. 30 Talladega HOME The tight end will be Oct. 7 Pinson Valley HOME Canon Smith, a 6-4, 240pound giant who ranks Oct. 14 Shelby County Away among the best in metro Birmingham at his posiOct. 21 Sylacauga Away tion. Michael Latham will Oct. 27 Anniston Away also get extensive work at tight end. Briarwood’s offensive line might be one of the leader.” team’s strongest spots. Patrick Morton, a Behind Craft in the backfield are two 5-10, 270-pound senior, is a proven peroutstanding athletes. Sam Whitaker, who former. Right guard Nick Maxey earned gained more than 1,000 yards last season, all-state and all-Over the Mountain honors returns at fullback. Despite suffering a as a junior last season and should continue back injury, Whitaker is expected to be bet- to improve this year. He stands 5-10 and ter than ever this fall. Beside him is halfweighs 260 pounds. The right tackle is back Matthew Furuto, a versatile player Preston Pittman, a two-year starter standwho will also see time at defensive back. ing 6-2 and weighing 290 pounds. Both Whitaker and Furuto are seniors. On the left side is senior tackle Tim Junior Tanner Cunningham will also be Crenshaw, one of Class 5A’s best. He a factor in the backfield. weighs 280 pounds and has a 4.31 grade “We have some excellent backs, but See Briarwood, page 22 we don’t have the real speed burner in the

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2011 Football Schedule

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8 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Members of the 2001 Homewood High School varsity football team include: Earnest Bell Jr., D’vonte Wallace, Aaron Rowell, Justin Hardy, Robert Davis III, Brandon Chitwood, John Hudson, Luke Porter, Warner Thompson, Stephen Baggett, Brett Leondike, Lakeith Walker, Caine Kadle, Daniel Maharrey, Winford Warren, Taylor Alfrod, Matthew Anderson, Nycholas Young, William Jones, Devonta Barnfield, Zachary Robinson, Joe King, Terrell Billups, Erik Schatz, Jaquan Barber, Johnathan Gooden, Charles Mizerany, Jr., Clarence Rivers, Luke Mangles, Cornelius Kennedy, Robert Fittro, Coleman Preston, Turner Gaines, Jordan Edwards, Walter Rutledge, DeRicco Harris, Jay Williams, Forrest Gaines, Oliver Fort, Tywuan Ward, Travis Wilson, Montel Davis, Shedrick Kynard, Conner Peterson, Mark Rawls, Patrick Stevens, Diquail Mitchell, Aaron Avery, John Gooden, James Williams, Nicholas Baskin, Preston Fittro, Bobby Brown, Justin Davis, Marcus Moss, Zachary Sims, Christopher Finley, Bryan Williams, Micah Brittingham, Ingram Easter, Raphael Trinidad, Jesus Gallardo, Anthony Waldrop, Jordan Sims, Denis Ngei, Nelson Thairu, Breon Bilal, Johnny Scott, Gregory Coates, Dwayne Orso, Jr., ShunDarrius Goins, John Mcleod, Leonardo Santos, DeCarlos Rankins and Zackary Johnson.

HOMEWOOD

Back to the Top

Goodwin Hopes to Lead Pats to Playoffs Again BY CARY ESTES

JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

I

n order for Doug Goodwin to extend his personal playoff streak, he will have to get the Homewood Patriots to end theirs. When Goodwin was hired by Homewood in January, he became only the fourth head football coach at the school since 1979. He replaced Dickey Wright, who led the Patriots for the past five seasons. Before that, Bob Newton was the Homewood head coach for 11 years, and Gerald Gann paced the Patriots’ sideline for 16 seasons. Newton and Gann presided over the glory years of Homewood football, back when the team was a consistent Class 5A powerhouse. Gann established the foundation, with nine trips to the state playoffs and five consecutive region titles from 1990-94. Then Newton took the program to another level, winning the Class 5A championship five times and compiling an astounding 34-4 playoff record. But things changed when Homewood

made the jump to Class 6A in 2006. The Patriots immediately went from having one of the larger student enrollments in their classification to one of the smallest. The team has gone 25-27 since the move and has missed the playoffs each of the past four seasons. Goodwin, on the other hand, is a regular visitor to the state playoffs, having made the postseason for 18 consecutive seasons with three different teams: Lineville,

Demopolis and Russellville. His 2004 Demopolis team won the Class 4A championship, while Lineville and Russellville each made it to the title game twice under Goodwin. He went 46-9 the past four seasons at Russellville and has an overall career winning percentage of 72.2. Goodwin obviously knows what a playoff team looks like. And after watching tape from last season, he said Homewood

Key Players to Watch

was not far away from being one in 2010. The Patriots went 6-4 overall but only 3-4 in Region 6. They lost to Spain Park by one point and faded late against Vestavia Hills after being tied in the third quarter. A victory in either game would have put Homewood in the playoffs. “They were in games and had chances to win,” Goodwin said. “Hopefully we can take a little more advantage of the chances this year.” It certainly helps that on a team with several new starters, the Patriots have an experienced and steady hand at quarterback in senior Stephen Baggett, who started last year and part of the previous season. Baggett completed 58.3 percent of his passes last season with 18 touchdowns and only one interception. “At any level of football, unless all you’re doing is turning it around and handing it off every play, you’re only as good as your quarterback,” Goodwin said. “We need Stephen to have a good year.” The Patriots will have to do more this season than simply hand the ball to a run-

Quick Facts

Homewood leaders this year include, from left, front: Earnest Bell Jr., Aaron Rowell and Warner Thompson. Back: Todd Fittro, John Hudson, coach Doug Goodwin, Stephen Baggett and Nych Young.

Head Coach: Doug Goodwin 2010 Record: 6-4 Stadium: Waldrop Stadium Region: Class 6A, Region 6 (Thompson, Spain Park, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Hoover, Oak Mountain, Pelham) State Championships: 1974, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005.


OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

a little more of a straightahead runner. Jaquan is kind of a little scat-back.” Sophomore Walter Rutledge will line up at fullback. The receiving corps is Date Opponent Location led by senior Nych Young, a 6-2, 180-pounder who has committed to play Aug. 26 Bessemer Away next year at UAB. He will Sept. 2 Thompson HOME be joined in the starting lineup by seniors Earnest Sept. 9 Spain Park Away Bell Jr. and Erik Schatz. Junior C.T. Mizerany will Sept. 16 Mountain Brook HOME be the starting tight end. Sept. 23 Huntsville HOME Three starters return on the offensive line: junior Sept. 30 Vestavia Hills HOME left tackle Zach Sims, senior left guard Kern Oct. 7 Hoover Away Williams and senior center Preston Fittro. The two Oct. 14 Oak Mountain HOME new starters on the line are Oct. 21 Pelham Away senior right guard Raphael Trinidad and sophomore Oct. 28 Grissom Away right tackle Jordan Sims. “For us to be a good offense, they all five have to be good players. You ning back, because their rushing game can’t have a weak link up there,” Goodwin is a big question mark. Homewood must said. “Three of them have experience, and attempt to replace All-Metro and All-Over hopefully that will carry over quick to the the Mountain tailback Ameer Abdullah, other two.” who ran for 1,013 yards last season and The Patriots’ defense had lapses last scored 23 touchdowns. The Patriots plan to year that led to all four of their losses. use a three-player rotation at the position Homewood gave up an average of nearly in junior Justin Hardy, sophomore Zach 44 points per game in the four setbacks. Robinson and junior Jaquan Barber. Goodwin said improvement on that side of “They’re all going to split time at tailthe ball starts with the defensive line. back,” Goodwin said. “Justin is shorter, but “Our defensive front needs to play he’s very quick and has a lot of explosive, powerful ability. Zach is a bigger back and See Homewood, page 22

Homewood High School 2011 Football Schedule

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 9

New Season, New Location We're pleased to announce we've relocated to our new location! Come see us in Park South Plaza, Vestavia Hills next to Diplomat Deli

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10 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Members of the 2011 Hoover High School varsity football team include: Beau Richardson, Kyler Jackson, Taylor Brown, Joshua Jackson, Dakota Daniel, John Powers, Kim Earl, Nigel Cribbs, Caleb Sims, Samuel Gillikin, Michael Campbell, Jarrett Brown, Xavier Woods, Jason Burton, Connor Short, Cooper Carden, Andrew Prickett, Alfonzo Steele, Larsen Real, Tyren Spurling, Dwight Johnson, Demetrious Garland, Christopher Fort, Chandler Coskery, Richard Gilliland, Marlon Humphrey, Jamare Gillard, Yul Cochran, Hunter Richey, Calen Campbell, Malcolm Hollifield, Evan Osborne, Kevin Borie, Blake Patterson, Matt McCay, Jason McCay, Daniel Lucas, Craig White, John Robinson, Drew Nix, Raymond Morris, Patrick Gentile, Trey Gooden, Landry Tullo, Russell Brown, Dylan Akins, Josh Creekmore, Ryan Rooney, Devin Morris, Jay Rogers, Jackson Armstrong, Jeremy Body, Hunter White, Paul Logan, J.D. Salter, P.J. Hatcher, Dylan Ward, Daniel Aust, Zach Armstrong, John Morgan, Eddie Foster, Jordan Melton, William Eads, Justin Pratt, Brandon Sly, Lamonte Wyatt, Sterling Thompson, Jason Powell, Tyler Bender, Wesley Paul, Hagan Scott, Damon Holditch, Campbell Hardy, Trent Dunne, Richard Neill, Benjamin Pendleton, James Harman, Nygel Edge and Patrick Whatley.

HOOVER

Don’t Look Back Coach Urges Bucs to Focus on the Present

2010 team, there would be no dwelling on the way last season ended. Fourth-year Hoover head coach Josh Niblett said he always wants his players to live in the moment and focus on the present. The only time the Bucs look in the rearview mirror

is to appreciate the powerhouse program that has been built at Hoover over the past decade. “We want our kids to understand the legacy that has been left behind for them, and they have to leave behind a legacy for

Key Players to Watch

BY CARY ESTES

JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

A

fter more than four months of hard work – of sweating in the August heat and shivering in the December cold – the Hoover Buccaneers’ 2010 football season came down to a single point. One lousy point. That was the margin of defeat for Hoover in last year’s Class 6A championship game against Daphne. The 7-6 loss ended both the Bucs’ 21-game winning streak and their dream of capturing their second consecutive state title (and seventh since 2000). But it is a new year with new opportunities, and the Bucs are determined to put the end of 2010 behind them. In a way, they have to. Hoover lost nine All-Metro players from last season and has only six returning starters, three on each side of the ball. Even if the Bucs had returned the entire

the team coming behind them,” Niblett said. “We can’t focus on everybody else. We have to focus on ourselves. “We want them to enjoy this opportunity. If they do that, they will be fine. The key for us will be to stay healthy, play fast and do the little things.” One of the biggest steps down that championship path will be to establish a starting quarterback to replace Ryan Carter, who threw for 2,666 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. Senior Sam Gillikin is expected to take over the starter’s role, with junior Connor Short as the backup. “We have two guys who we feel can play,” Niblett said. “Sam Gillikin is a heck of a player. He’s a fast kid – a 4.5 guy – and he has a good arm. He’s been offered by Auburn to play baseball. “Connor has great savvy. He understands the game. He has a quick release

Quick Facts

Key Hoover players with coach Josh Niblett, from left: Caleb Sims, Matt McCay, Jeremy Boyd and Dakota Daniel.

Head Coach: Josh Niblett 2010 Record: 14-1 Stadium: Regions Park Region: Class 6A, Region 6 (Spain Park, Oak Mountain, Thompson, Pelham, Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook) State Championships: 1977, 1982, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009


THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 11

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

at wide receiver, because they definitely are young at that position. But that doesn’t mean they’re not talented. Niblett is particularly impressed with the potential of 6-1, 210Date Opponent Location pound sophomore Cooper Carden. Aug. 27 So. Panola (Miss) HOME “We’re real excited about him,” Niblett said. Sept. 2 Spain Park Away “He will be a man by the Sept. 9 Oak Mountain HOME time he graduates. We’re going to play him at inside Sept. 16 Thompson HOME receiver.” Joining Carden in the Sept. 23 Gadsden City Away lineup will be returning starter Dakota Daniel Sept. 30 Pelham Away and Josh Jackson, both Oct. 7 Homewood HOME seniors. Daniel will line up occasionally in the Oct. 14 Vestavia Hills Away backfield, while Jackson will play both wide Oct. 21 Mountain Brook Away receiver and tight end. Oct. 27 Bob Jones HOME Newcomer Alfonzo Steel, a junior, is also expected to see plenty of playing time. and a strong arm. In our offense, the quar“He’s a little raw right terback has to be a dual threat, and both of now, but we think he’s going to come on,” them can run.” Niblett said of Steel. “He can really run.” The Bucs also will be counting heavily New faces abound on the offensive line on a healthy return of running back Caleb as well, with senior Daniel Aust as the only Sims for his senior season. Sims injured his returning starter. The 6-3, 265-pound Aust knee late in 2010 but appears to be fully is moving from guard to left tackle this recovered. season. “We’re going to ask a lot of him,” The rest of the line could be a work Niblett said. “We’re going to play him at in progress, with as many as eight playreceiver, running back and kick returner. ers seeing action every game. That group He’s a true athlete, a playmaker.” See Hoover, page 22 The Bucs will need Sims’ experience

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Hoover High School 2011 Football Schedule

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www.hooverpreserve.com


12 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Members of the 2011 John Carroll High School varsity football team include: Jonathan Hutchens, Brandon Turner, Daryll Cotton, Kenny Johnson, Khory Marable, Wes Dismuke, Trevor Brooks, Jack Tighe, Johnny Boohaker, Nic Hand, Mitchell Byrd, Riley Mara, Nick Johnson, Aron Vasha, Alfred Maiola, Trent Marshall, Tyler Smitherman, Thaddeus Merchant, Adam Higginbotham, Mason Falligant, Zac Thompson, Christian Thornton, Taylor Schiffman, Walter Agee, Gabe Bostick, Daniel Bostick, Robert Burgess, J.T. Tadisco, Greg Giraud, K.C. Terry, David Tanory, Jelani Bender, LeMonte Harris, Ellis Till, Gade Tran, Jalen Simpson, Christian Maziarz, Roh Hachelrod, Eddie Washington, Greyson Fant, Paul Anderton, Kevin Bolen, Austin Baecher, Marcus Wright, Conner Mara, Ben Gerchow, Myles Foshee, Edaurdo Cedeno, Leon Boackle, Peter Atkins, D.J. Culotta, Shellie Moore, Rob Williams, Jody Prunell, Alex Fawal, Peyton Dabbs, Frank Bellush, Chris Glennon and Matthew Byers.

JOHN CARROLL

Merchant's Walk

Cavs Hope to Learn From Last Year’s Adversity BY LEE DAVIS JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

A

t first glance, John Carroll Catholic’s 6-4 record last season may not look all that imposing. But when the tale of the Cavaliers in 2010 is told, you have to put a big asterisk on the board. In the second game of the season, allstate running back Adric Merchant was injured and lost for the year. The blow might have crushed some teams, but Carroll overcame the disappointment to salvage a winning season. “As bad as it was to lose Adric, in a way it was a good experience for our team,” said Cavalier coach Chris Musso. “It meant that we had to grow up in a hurry. When someone was injured, somebody else had to step in and get the job done.” Merchant has gone on to the University of Southern Mississippi, but Musso thinks the lessons learned last season will carry over to 2011. Giving the coach more reason for optimism is a strong senior class, which has been learning from Musso since he arrived on the Lakeshore Drive campus four years ago. “We’ve got a group of guys who have been in our system for four years,” the

coach explained. “They understand the system and what is expected of them. We think we can do some good things this season.” Returning to lead Carroll’s double wing offense is senior quarterback Johnny Boohaker. A fine passer, Boohaker also has leadership skills that Musso admires. “Johnny may know the system better than I do,” said the coach. “All our guys have a lot of confidence in him.” While Merchant will be difficult to replace in the running back slot, the Cavs have a stable of fine running backs. Junior Wes Dismuke may well be the starter, but Khory Marable will also see plenty of action. Trent Marshall is the likely starter at fullback. Brandon Turner, Kenny Johnson and Daniel Bostick are also solid groundgainers. “We feel like one of the real strengths of our team will be the running back positions,” said Musso. The best news for the running backs is that they will have an excellent offensive line blocking for them. Tackles D.J. Culotta, a 280pound giant, and Jalen Simpson may be two of the best in metro Birmingham.

Senior Ellis Till is at one guard position but could face competition from Kevin Bolen, a promising sophomore. Christian Maziarz is another starter at guard, and veteran Chase Foshee returns at center. John Carroll’s receiver corps should also be strong. Trevor Brooks and Aron Vasha, both seniors, will be fine targets for Boohaker. “I think we’ll be able to move the ball pretty well,” said Musso. Jonathan Hutchens is one of Alabama’s best high school kickers, but his status is questionable because of a soccer injury

Key Players to Watch Key members of the 2011 Cavalier program include, from left, front: Chase Foshee and D.J. Culotta. Middle: Alex Fawal and Christopher Glennon. Back: Trevor Brooks, coach Chris Musso and Daniel Bostick.

suffered last spring. If Hutchens can’t play, Trent Marshall will handle all kicking and punting chores. Defensively, Musso must replace eight

We’ve got a group of guys who have been in our system for four years. They understand the system and what is expected of them. We think we can do some good things this season. Chris Musso starters from 2010, but athletes abound. The bulwark of Carroll’s defense will be senior linebacker Daniel Bostick, a bona fide all-state candidate. Robert Burgess is also a name that rival running backs should fear. “I’ll take those two against anybody,” said Musso. “Our linebackers will be one of the strengths of our defense.” Another defender with extensive playing time is nose guard LeMonte Harris.

Quick Facts Head Coach: Chris Musso 2010 Record: 6-4 Stadium: John Carroll Field (4,000) Region: Class 5A Region 4 (Fairfield, Hueytown, McAdory, Parker, Pleasant Grove, Wenonah, Woodlawn). State Championships: 1973


2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

6A power Vestavia Hills. A pair of juniors, Greg Giraud and Alfred Maiola, rounds out the starters. Carroll’s young players will need to develop quickly. The Cavs are Date Opponent Location a member of Class 5A’s Region 4, one of Aug. 26 Jacksonville HOME Alabama’s toughest diviSept. 2 Pleasant Grove Away sions, which includes powers Pleasant Grove, Sept. 9 McAdory HOME McAdory, Wenonah, Hueytown and Fairfield. Sept. 15 Parker Away John Carroll must Sept. 23 Chelsea HOME face Pleasant Grove and Fairfield on the road. Sept. 30 Wenonah HOME The Cavaliers close the season against Class 6A’s Oct. 7 Woodlawn Away Thompson. Oct. 13 Hueytown HOME “We normally don’t talk about our opponents, Oct. 21 Fairfield Away we’re only concerned with ourselves,” said Oct. 28 Thompson Away Musso. “But I think we do play most of the teams in the Class 5A Top 10. It’s Anchoring the defensive front along a cliché, but we’re just with Harris will be tackles K.C. Terry, going to play them one at a time and focus Shellie Moore and sophomore Roh each week on being the best we can be.” Hachelrod. Kenny Johnson, also a fine That’s admittedly a lot of coach-speak, running back, has stepped up to fortify the but Musso can’t hide his pride in his playdefense as a defensive end. ers. “Kenny has done an excellent job in the “Our kids have worked very hard,” he transition,” said Musso. said. “They work like they expect to win The Cavaliers’ secondary could also on the field and in life. They understand be very good. It’s led by junior Brandon that if they prepare to win, good things will Turner, who runs a blazing 4.3 in the 40 happen.” yard dash. A welcome new addition is Zach If John Carroll can avoid the injury bug, Thompson, a transfer from traditional Class Musso will be exactly right. ❖

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 13

John Carroll Catholic High School 2011 Football Schedule

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14 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Members of the 2011 Mountain Brook High School varsity football team include: Miller Sisson, Edward Aldag, Will Deer, Patrick Sullivan, Robert Fritze, Gavin Golsan, John Cunningham, Mark Rector, John Harris Britton, Reagan Alexander, Coates Doss, Jimbo Kent, Jake Bicksler, Thomas Henry, Jackson Lamar, Christian Lowman, Will Brewster, Hunter Holcomb, Hilyer Isbell, Josh Donnell, Coley Holtkamp, Sam Centano, Anderson Aldag, Forrester Debuys, Jordan Donald, Alan Gambril, Wirth Doss, Tre Smith, Zach Gillen, Hall Hastings, Wade Bramlett, John McMahon, Warren Handrahan, Jack Luckie, Hatton Smith, Taylor Mitchell, Win Cowden, Crosby Taylor, Zane Glidewell, Austin Chapman, Richmond Watson, Aaron Shapiro, Trace Blakely, Hinton Bishop, Reeves Favrot, Will Kenan, William Thomas, Buddy Pell, Matthew Gambril, Drew Herndon, Robert Eckert, Michael Resha, Reed Adams, Turner Henderson, Brandon Bartels, Eric Mussell, Will Sparks, Kenny Cobb, John Bradford, Ken Thompson, Will Howell, Davis Collman, Christian Anderson, Jake White, Moncus Burke, Franklin Brown, Jack Royer, Wayne Ingram, Barrett Price, Walker Byrd, Ryan Kahn, Taylor Hauth, Matt Wiginton, James Harmon, Hunter Morrissette, Paul Davis, Davy Bennett, Joshua Mumm, Pat Lewis, Daniel Swecker, William Deguenther, Dan Shelton, John Grady Welden, David Hutchins, Jackson Niketas, Austin Allie, Connor Herfurth, Matt Moore, Caleb Carroll, Hunter Branch, Gene Bromberg, Shane Pugh, Reid Shows, Adam Harvey, Peyton Alexander, Sam Stewart, Quinton Kimbrough, Bobby Cope, Alec Bills, Harry Reich, Will Sharp and Benton Crane.

MOUNTAIN BROOK

Remember The Spartans

Mountain Brook Hopes To Keep Winning in 2011 BY LEE DAVIS JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

A

fter seeing his Mountain Brook team post an impressive 11-3 record in 2010, Spartan coach Chris Yeager, by all rights, should be feeling good about this year’s squad. But Yeager’s mood could best be described as only cautiously optimistic as fall practice opened. “Our kids are confident, but sometimes there’s a danger in that,” said the coach. “Last year, we were focused and hungry after going 4-6 in 2009. “Now that we’re coming off a good year, there’s always a tendency to be a little satisfied with the status quo. That’s what we have to work against.” With eight starters returning from last season’s explosive offense, it would be easy to assume that moving the ball will

be Mountain Brook’s forte in 2011. Yeager admitted, however, that he didn’t get that feeling during spring drills. “It may seem surprising, but I didn’t really see the improvement in the offense that I expected during the spring,” said Yeager. “The defense really got us the ball

in a lot of situations. Offensively we still need a lot of work.” Despite Yeager’s concerns, there’s plenty of talent available. It may all start with senior quarterback Edward Aldag, who came out of nowhere to become one of metro Birmingham’s most feared passers

Key Players to Watch Mountain Brook leaders, with coach Chris Yeager, are, from left, front: David Hutchins, Harry Reich and Paul Davis. Back: Will Sparks and Walker Byrd.

last season. But it’s Aldag’s ability to face pressure situations that could be his greatest attribute. “There are a lot of quarterbacks that can produce big numbers on offense but make mistakes that get their teams beaten,” said Yeager. “Aldag is a great passer and, just as importantly, he doesn’t do things that can hurt us.” At the hub of the Spartans’ running game will be halfback Mark Rector, who brought back memories of former Mountain Brook star J.D. Marsh last season. All-Over the Mountain wide receiver John McCrary has graduated, but Aldag will have plenty of quality targets. Coates Doss will be one of the area’s best tight ends. John Harris Britton and Patrick Sullivan will both see time at wideout. Reagan Alexander will be the H-back. “With McCrary gone, we will operate

Quick Facts Head Coach: Chris Yeager 2010 Record: 11-3 Stadium: Spartan Stadium (4,000) Region: Class 6ARegion 6 (Homewood, Hoover, Oak Mountain, Pelham, Spain Park and Vestavia Hills) State Championships: 1975, 1976


OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 15

doubt,” said Yeager. “I don’t want to see anybody from last season resting on their laurels.” Mountain Brook’s defensive unit is comparatively young, but the coach Date Opponent Location likes what he sees. “Right now, the defense Aug. 26 Shades Valley Away looks like the veteran part of our team,” said Yeager. Sept. 2 Vestavia Hills HOME “In reality, they are the new kids on the block, but Sept. 9 Pelham HOME so far they don’t look that Sept. 16 Homewood Away way.” Anchoring the front Sept. 23 Grissom Away wall for the Spartan defenders is senior nose Sept. 30 Spain Park Away guard Harry Reich. The Oct. 6 Oak Mountain HOME end posts are solid with Michael Resha and Robert Oct. 14 Thompson Away Eckert. The linebacker corps Oct. 21 Hoover HOME was hurt by the graduation of All-Stater Miller Oct. 28 Buckhorn HOME Williams, but Yeager feels like his current group – made up of Hatton Smith, Win Cowden, Reeves more with receivers-by-committee,” said Favrot and Zach Gillen – is solid. All of Yeager. “But we’ve got some guys with them are seniors. good hands and good speed.” A strong secondary is a longtime The Spartans’ offensive line will be Mountain Brook tradition, and 2011 should manned by a solid group of savvy veterbe no exception. The cornerbacks are Sam ans. Walker Byrd is the starter at center, Centano and Coley Holtkamp. Hilyer Isbell with Paul Davis, a legitimate major coland Will Deer will be the starting safeties. lege prospect, at one tackle. John Grady The battle to become the Spartans’ Weldon is at the other tackle, and David Hutchinson and Will Sparks are the starting punter is a toss-up between quarterback Aldag and Hinton Bishop. Needless to say, guards. Aldag’s presence in punt formation would Senior Warren Handrahan will handle the placekicking chores. “Experience is important, without a See Mountain Brook, page 23

Mountain Brook High School 2011 Football Schedule

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16 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Members of the 2011 Oak Mountain High School varsity football team include: Galen Lloyd, Kelshawn Shields, Kourtland Walters, Jakaryus Redwine, Bowen Gurkin, Jake Kelley, Jake Adams, William Bostick, Adrian Williams, Mickey Forrest, Vincent Kimbrough, Heath Quinn, Skylar Gossett, Dekorian Vanderbilt, Chase Tourney, Michael Cole, Justin Woodall, Barrett Gossett, Luke Driskill, John Michael Miller, Mitch Mathias, Chancellor Gaines, Richard Broady, Davis Hambrick, James Bice, Robert Sauers, Christopher Jones, Scott Hester, Will Taylor, Xavier Cochrane, Brandon Gaines, Lloyd Time, Eli Long, Joshua McKinney, Brandon Esleck, Mitchell McCloskey, Tommy McGowan, Mitch Poulson, Christopher Richmond, Tyler Sockwell, Billy Dasher, Jonathan Alvendia, Jacob Wade, Joshua Self, Harmon Guraya, Jacob Guillory, Andrew Adams, Zach Barton, Austin Moro, Mason Holt, Matthew Bass, Austin Smith, Blake Miller, Christopher Johnson, Jaleel Clopton, Ilya Hendzel, Jordan McLain and Jordan Pierce.

OAK MOUNTAIN

Veterans’ Day

Eagles Hope to Improve With 17 Starters Returning BY CARY ESTES

JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

I

t might seem difficult to find any positives from a 2-8 season, but Oak Mountain head coach Jeff Harris actually had reasons to feel good after the Eagles posted that record in 2010. Harris knew going into last season that it would be a tough year for Oak Mountain, since the team had only one returning starter on defense, no returning starters on the offensive line and a roster filled with inexperienced players. “We were a little outmatched from a physical standpoint with those young kids receiving so much playing time,” Harris said. “It was a growing experience for us.” The reason Harris was able to remain optimistic was because despite all the problems, including a five-game losing streak to start the season, he said the players continued to work hard and remained upbeat. They, like the coach, understood that better times were coming. Namely in 2011, when nearly the entire team would return. “The main thing about last year was we didn’t lose the kids from the standpoint of them getting beat down to the point where they had kind of given up and lost focus,” Harris said. “They saw the overall big picture and realized what was going to be coming down the road. It was tough, but we were able to survive it and make it through. “Now we have them after a year of development and a year of offseason work. So we’re in much better shape going into the season this time around. Last year (during preseason practice), there was a lot of pointing guys in the right direction and getting everybody on the same page.

“This time around, it’s more of trying to clean things up, because most of them are veterans and know what we’re doing. That should be the case when you return 17 starters.” The one position where the Eagles still might be somewhat inexperienced is at quarterback. Injuries forced Mickey Forrest to start the final four games of last season as a freshman. He returns, along with junior newcomer Jake Adams. “Mickey played well down the stretch and came out of spring training as our number one,” Harris said. “But we’ve had a move-in since then in Jake Adams, who is pushing Mickey for playing time. “Jake is a real physical kid at 6-2, 220. Mickey’s advantage is more along the lines of his knowledge of the system. And he has confidence that he’s been the man running the show since week 7 last year and got all the reps in the spring.” Senior Bradley Bostick returns as the starting running back, though Harris

said he also will line up at times at wide receiver. “That’s probably what he’ll do at the next level (in college), so we’re going to use him in both spots,” Harris said. “We look for him to have a big year for us.” The Eagles will employ an H-back who will primarily block for Bostick when he is in the backfield but who will become the primary running back whenever Bostick lines up out wide. Junior Scott Hester played the position last year, though Harris said senior Justin Woodall and juniors John Michael Miller and Lloyd Time could be used as well. “We feel very good about all the candidates we have there,” Harris said. This year’s breakout player might be junior wide receiver Heath Quinn; Harris calls him “one of the top two or three athletes in the school.” As a sophomore, Quinn led the Oak Mountain baseball team in batting average and home runs and was second on the basketball team in scoring.

Key Players to Watch

He was even considered to be moved to quarterback last year when the Eagles had so many injuries at the position. Joining Quinn in the receiving corps will be senior Jordan Pierce, junior Adrian Williams and senior Jakaryus Redwine, who, Harris said, “has some big-time

Now we have them after a year of development and a year of offseason work. So we’re in much better shape going into the season this time around. Last year (during preseason practice), there was a lot of pointing guys in the right direction and getting everybody on the same page. Jeff Harris speed.” Three starters return on the offensive line: senior Jacob Guillory and juniors Billy Dasher and Christopher Richmond. Juniors Austin Moro and Harmon Guraya will round out the starting line. “We have probably improved on the offensive line as much as any position on the team in the offseason,” Harris said. “We look for that to really be a big improvement over last season.” The Eagles also have three returning

Quick Facts

Oak Mountain leaders, with Coach Jeff Harris, are, from left, front: Austin Moro and Jacob Guillory. Back: William Bostick and Christopher Jones.

Head coach: Jeff Harris 2010 record: 2-8 Stadium: Heardmont Park/Eagle Stadium Region: Class 6A, Region 6 (Pelham, Hoover, Spain Park, Thompson, Mountain Brook, Homewood, Vestavia Hills)


OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 17

In the secondary, senior Cameron Bice and junior Barrett Gossett are back as the starting safeties, and Harris said junior Jake Kelley will play a safety/linebacker hybrid. Date Opponent Location The cornerbacks will be Williams and Redwine, Aug. 26 Buckhorn Away who, Harris said, “will be our lock-down guy who Sept. 2 Pelham HOME we’ll match on our oppoSept. 9 Hoover Away nent’s top receiver.” Three players are in Sept. 16 Spain Park HOME the running for all three kicking positions. Midway Sept. 23 Northridge HOME through preseason practice, Harris said senior Sept. 30 Thompson HOME Mitch Mathias was out Oct. 6 Mountain Brook Away front as the placekicker, sophomore Blake Miller Oct. 14 Homewood Away was the leading punter and junior Michael Cole was Oct. 21 Vestavia Hills HOME handling kickoffs. Oct. 28 Pinson Valley Away Whether it all adds up to the Eagles’ first winning season in four years – and their first playoff berth starters on the defensive line in Moro, in six seasons – remains to be seen. But Time and junior Tommy McGowan. Pierce Harris said if nothing else, he is confident and Hester also will be in the regular playthere will be significant improvement over ing rotation, Harris said. last season. Oak Mountain has two returning start“We’re in much better shape this year,” ers at linebacker in senior Chris Jones and Harris said. “We’ve worked hard and had junior John Michael Miller. Senior Justin a very productive offseason. Now we’re Woodall also is expected to see significant starving for success. We’re very hungry as playing time at the position. a program. We want to be one of the top“And behind them we have some good tier teams in Region 6. young ones who we’re excited about, but “We know we still have a long way to who are probably a year away from really go, but we’re feeling good about the progcontributing on the varsity level,” Harris ress we’re making.” ❖ said.

Oak Mountain High School 2011 Football Schedule

When the season is over, don’t let the fun end.

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Let the real fun begin on one of these great holiday cruises! Voyager of the Seas Voyager of the Seas 7 day Thanksgiving cruise 7 day Christmas cruise ��������������������������������� ��������������������������������� ��������������������������� ��������������������������� ��������������������������������� ��������������������������������� ������������������ ������������������ ������������������ ������������������

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18 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Members of the 2011 Spain Park High School varsity football team include: Sean Mardis, Derick Hughes, Cameron Young, Steven Breaux, Cade Hoffman, Chris Talley, Lance Jones, Trudarious Clark, Jeff Heinke, Jake Payne, Justin Carter, Rodney Shorter, Otis Harris, Austin Haight, Kevron McMillan, Drew Moore, Drake Grisham, Hank King, Blake Williams, Daniel Sanders, Connor Tinney, Collins Ngure, Nick Mullens, Kevin Wozniak, Alex Roberson, Zach Soto, Will McDonald, Jeniah Jackson, Reid Reinagel, Jordan Brook, Terry Harris, Bryant Williams, Ben Olinger, David Sanders, Payton Gray, Ben Tamburello, Hunter Kahn, Justin Kane, Josh Hardy, Madden Saverse, Josh Close, John Pizzatola, Parker Hall, Billy Kane, MJ Brown, Hunter Defalco, Philip Brown, Sawyer Shotts, Jake Hoffman, Josh Graham, Jontez Turner, Caleb Plaisted, Marieo Kinion, Jay Douglas, Destin Challenger, Bryant Novick, Jeffrey Hyter�Hunt, Wesley Barrentine, Mason Durden, Nikolas Kassouf, Jalon Hollie, Robert Bagwell, Josh Rich, Martin Canales, Chase Lewis, Ricky Davis, Ashton Daniel, Rhett Peterson, Mike Soekoro, Joey Stuckey, Morgan Young, Omar Deeb, Kymari Johnson, Devin Pughsley, John Mwaituka, Jamie Andrews, Sam Anderson, Thomas Outzen, Alando McDonald, Scout Johnson, Chris Humes, Conner Whatley, Hudson Carr, Cas Holley, Cole Campbell, Matt Berler, Devon Brown, Dainel Kaufman, Jacob Wolkow, Dustin Cowart, Dalton Brown, Brannan Martens, Connor King, Moe Mills, Samuel Berry, Kameron Ricks, Andrew Pitts, Will Murray, Ben Holcombe, Jacob Chaffin, Thomas Taylor, Devonte Moyer, Blake Finberg, Ian Kirkpatrick, Thomas Rush, Mathew Taylor, Zac Newton and Chance Lott.

SPAIN PARK

Living in the Moment

New Coach Wants Jags To Enjoy the Ride BY CARY ESTES

JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

N

ew Spain Park head coach Chip Lindsey is still learning about his players, but he already knows he has a team fully capable of bouncing back from adversity. Despite all the controversy Spain Park endured last year, including a coaching change just before the season began, the Jaguars still managed to go 6-6 and advance to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs. And Lindsey said ever since he arrived at Spain Park earlier this year from Troy University, where he was the quarterbacks coach, he has not heard any of the players talk about the problems of last season. “It really hasn’t been an issue at all,” said Lindsey, who is the Jaguars’ third head coach in the past 12 months. “I haven’t heard a player say anything about it. If

you’re in the business of being around young people, you realize they’re very resilient. They don’t really seem to dwell on a lot of the negative that’s happened in the past.” There are plenty of reasons for the Jaguars to be focused on the future this year. They have a senior-laden team with plenty of returning starters and a head

coach who is determined to make the game fun again for his players. “Our philosophy for the whole program is to have fun, play hard and really enjoy the time we have to be together,” Lindsey said. “I tell seniors all the time, you snap your fingers and the season is over. Our job as a coaching staff is to try to make this a fun, exciting, memorable experience.

Key Players to Watch Jaguar leaders, with coach Chip Lindsey are, from left, front: Nick Mullens and Destin Challenger. Back: Chris Humes and Ben Tamburello

“I think we’re going to win our share of games. But no matter how many games you win or lose, we want to make sure they leave with a positive experience and some memories they keep forever. “We want them to savor every moment.” Lindsey is implementing a four-wideout offense this season, a drastic departure from the Jaguars’ old run-oriented power game. How different? Well, when Lindsey was the head coach at Lassiter High in Atlanta in 2009, his starting quarterback passed for 4,522 yards and 55 touchdowns in 13 games. Junior Nick Mullens will be the player slinging the ball all over the field for the Jags. Mullens threw for 2,243 yards and 14 TDs last year, but those numbers should increase significantly under the new offensive scheme. “He has really adapted well to our offense,” Lindsey said. “He’s kind of

Quick Facts Head coach: Chip Lindsey 2010 record: 6-6 Stadium: Spain Park Stadium at Bob Finley Field Region: Class 6A, Region 6 (Hoover, Homewood, Oak Mountain, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Pelham, Thompson)


OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

“We play a lot of kids at that position,” Lindsey said. The Jags have two seniors at running back in Ashton Daniel and Sean Mardis, and Lindsey Date Opponent Location seems particularly excited about the potential of Aug. 27 Noxubee Cty. (Miss.) HOME junior Kevron McMillan. “We think he has a Sept. 2 Hoover HOME chance to be really speSept. 9 Homewood HOME cial before he leaves,” Lindsey said. “He’s a very Sept. 16 Oak Mountain Away explosive player who is hard to tackle.” Sept. 23 Bob Jones Away The offensive line is anchored by seniors Ben Sept. 30 Mountain Brook HOME Tamburello and Robert Oct. 7 Vestavia Hills Away Bagwell, but Lindsey said the rest of the line Oct. 14 Pelham Away remains “a big question mark.” Oct. 21 Thompson HOME “Ben and Robert are Oct. 27 Clay-Chalkville HOME really good players who we’re going to lean on a lot, but we need to find three others to fit with become another coach on the field in some those two to make us a respects. He’s still learning some, too, but good offensive line,” Lindsey said. “We he’s really intelligent and steady and can have a lot of inexperience in those other be an outstanding leader for us.” positions.” Mullens will have plenty of potenThe strength of the Spain Park defense tial targets to throw to. When Lindsey is in the starting secondary, which consists was asked about his receiving corps, he of four seniors who are expected to be proceeded to roll off a list of 10 players playing college football next year. he expects will see considerable action “It starts with safety Destin Challenger, this season: seniors Reid Reinagel, John who has committed to UAB,” Lindsey Mwaituka, Trudarious Clark, Hunter Kahn, said. “We’re really excited about him. He’s Alando McDonald and Payton Gray and a phenomenal tackler. The other safety is juniors Drake Grisham, Cade Hoffman, See Spain Park, page 23 Josh Close and M.J. Brown.

Spain Park High School 2011 Football Schedule

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 19

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20 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

Members of the 2011 Vestavia Hills High School varsity football team include: Ryan Smith, Thomas Capps, Ben Brown, Skylar Lee, Jack Yancey, Alex Vogt, Josh Ellington, Keon Prowell, Austin Ward, Marcus Ward, Whit Adams, Corbin Potter, Spencer Towns, Grant Benson, Kevin Shannon, Ryan Raspino, Garrett Murphy, Thomas Woods, Jack Cole, Nicholas Hilburn, Matt Stopak, Austin Murphy, Matthew Farris, Jahaad Jackson, Matt Duren, Brett Harris, Georgie Salem, Schaefer Amos, John Castleberry, Tiyan Jackson, Jack Nelson, Will Looney, Jonathan Kuhn, Daniel Kines, Alex Thomas, Oscar Harper, Jimmy Witt, Joseph Santoro, Jimmy Laughlin, Justin Green, Stuart Jacobs, Joseph James, Conner Estes, Tyler Queen, Chris Cusimano, Jered Wolski, Kyle Sitzler, Jordan Johnson, Dalton Campbell, Brody Williamson, Josh Wall, Sam Baker, Ryan Heslin, Winn Gathings, Matthew Crane, Kalvin Robinson, David D’Amico, Alex Gathings, Patrick Cronin, Ben Thomas, Nick Elcott, Robert Schaffeld, Alex Harrelson, Anderson Barnett, Alex Tolbert, Charlie Vines, Hopson Nance, Carter Brown, Cody Allison, Bailey Cadden, Tim Davis, Kyle Schilling, Jake Edwards, Kyle Meding, Keaton Lett, Thomas Foster, Ryan Childers, Connor Koch, Walker Hays, Robert Thomas, Hunter Haynes, Max Norris, Perry Sims, Carson Tortorice, Austin Harris, Jake Long, Tristan Tahmaseb, Gabe Adkins, Raener Ayers-Fleming, Bobby Morgan, Andrew McCrory, Christian Despot, Sterling Lindsey, Sumner Hackney, Jamaris Buford, Brooks Sexton, Jake Bottcher, Austin Duke, Grady Evers, Michael McMahon, William Heartsill, Ry Esdale, Parker Graham, Cameron Tipton, Colin Harper, Daniel Burton, Drew Huntsinger, Chris Smith and Chris Edwards.

VESTAVIA

History Channel Anderson’s 34th Season Could Be Special BY LEE DAVIS JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER

T

he decor of Coach Buddy Anderson’s office at Vestavia High School has the look of a small sports hall of fame. The walls are filled with photographs, plaques and other memorabilia from his 40-year ride at the school whose football field bears his name. Perhaps the most treasured photos to Anderson are the group shots of senior players with personal, heartfelt inscriptions expressing thanks and gratitude to their coach. To understand the width and breadth of Anderson’s tenure at Vestavia, consider how different Over the Mountain football looked when he was elevated from an assistant’s position to head coach in 1978. There were only five area schools that played football. Spain Park and Oak Mountain didn’t even exist. Bob Finley was building a legend at Berry. Robert Higginbotham was in his second year at Shades Valley. Leo Wright and Gary Rutledge were coaching at Mountain Brook and Homewood, respectively. Finley died in 1994, very much in his prime. Higginbotham retired from Tuscaloosa County two years ago. Wright and Rutledge have been out of coaching for decades. Anderson is still going strong. “Those were great days, and a special time,” said Anderson, when caught in a reflective mood recently. “But these times

are pretty good, too.” And as he moves ever closer to 300 career wins, Anderson said that high school boys haven’t changed much over time. “They still want the same things as always,” he said. “They want to know that they are loved and that somebody cares. That will never change.” Something else that doesn’t change is that Vestavia usually has a good football team. This year will be no exception. “We’ve still got a long way to go,” said Anderson. “But we’re working hard. Every team has a different heartbeat, so it’s too early to know for sure how good we will be.” The Rebels are coming off a 9-3 season, which ended with a loss to Mountain

Brook in the second round of the playoffs. This Vestavia team looks deep and talented and should have a shot at moving far into the post-season in 2011. The solid Patrick Prewitt has graduated, so the quarterback position is a battle between senior Jack Cole and junior Spencer Towns. Anderson won’t reveal much except to say that the contest was even entering fall practice. “We’ll let our opponents figure it (the quarterback situation) out for themselves,” he said. Senior Georgie Salem returns as tailback and is expected to be one of the state’s best runners. Salem is fast and tough, but his work ethic may be his best asset.

Key Players to Watch

“Georgie works hard every day in practice to improve,” said Anderson. “Everyone’s going to have to get better if we’re going to have a successful season.” Also working at tailback is junior Stuart Jacobs, who filled in capably when Salem was injured last season. Josh Ellington and Ryan Heslin bring depth to the position. Jacobs will also see extensive work at fullback, as will Daniel Kines and Jack Yancey. Whether Cole or Towns is the quarterback, they will have plenty of fine targets. Contenders at wide receiver are Austin Ward, Ryan Smith, Christian Despot, Schaefer Amos, Ben Brown, Grant Benson, Thomas Woods, Will Looney, Oscar Harper, Andrew McCrory and Sterling Lindsey. The Rebels are settled at tight end. Senior Raener Ayers-Fleming should be one of the best in metro Birmingham. Alex Vogt and Kyle Sitzler will help at that position as well. Vestavia’s offensive line should be topflight. Senior Alex Harrellson is a proven performer at center, and Carter Brown is a capable reserve. Jake Long and Max Norris are the starting guards, with Bailey Cadden and Anderson Barnett adding valuable depth. Charlie Vines is a starter at one tackle,

Quick Facts

Key Rebel players, with Coach Buddy Anderson are, from left: Jack Cole, Corbin Potter, Keaton Lett and Raener Ayers-Fleming.

Head Coach: Buddy Anderson 2010 Record: 9-3 Stadium: Buddy Anderson Field at Thompson Reynolds Stadium (4,000). Region: Class 6A, Region 6 (Homewood, Hoover, Mountain Brook, Oak Mountain, Pelham, Spain Park, Thompson) State Championships: 1980, 1998


OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

and Kalvin Robinson are battling for the second spot. Dalton Campbell will see action as well. The Rebels’ linebacker corps has plenty of numbers and talent. Senior Date Opponent Location Keaton Lett – who’ll also play offensive guard Aug. 26 Florence HOME – is one to watch. So are senior John Castleberry Sept. 2 Mountain Brook Away and juniors Brody Williamson and Jack Sept. 9 Thompson Away Nelson. Sept. 16 Pelham HOME Also working for playing time are Jordan Sept. 23 Briarwood Away Johnson, Sam Baker, Hopson Nance, Ben Sept. 30 Homewood Away Thomas, Tyler Queen and Oct. 7 Spain Park HOME Winn Gathings. Vestavia’s defensive Oct. 14 Hoover HOME backs will be effective against both the pass and Oct. 21 Oak Mountain Away the run. The secondary is loaded with skill and Oct. 28 Shades Valley HOME experience. The front-runners are seniors Corbin Potter, Kevin Shannon, Jimmy Laughlin, Marcus with Carson Tortorice and Robert Thomas Ward, Jonathan Kuhn. battling for the other post. Hunter Haynes Potter comes by his ability naturally. is also very much in the picture. His grandfather was Jimmy Sidle, a forRyan Raspino – who earned All-Over mer All-American quarterback at Auburn the Mountain honors last year – returns as University. the Rebels’ placekicker. Providing depth are Garrett Murphy, Vestavia looks strong and deep on Matt Stopak, Jimmy Witt, Jered Wolski, defense as well. Gabe Atkins and Walker Josh Wall and Jamaris Buford. Hays are returning starters in the defensive The Rebels are still aligned in Class line; Tristan Tahmaseb and Alex Gathings 6A’s Region 6, almost certainly Alabama’s are also in the rotation. toughest division. As if region games Senior David D’Amico is a proven starter at one defensive end. Jahaad Jackson See Vestavia, page 23

Vestavia Hills High School 2011 Football Schedule

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 21

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22 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

Hoover from page 11

The Bucs will be counting heavily on a healthy return of running back Caleb Sims for his senior season. Journal file photo

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW includes seniors J.D. Salter, Jackson Armstrong and Logan Paul and juniors Hunter White and Zach Armstrong. Defensively, Niblett said he is primarily concerned with the team’s lack of depth at defensive end and cornerback. The Bucs have tried to fill the holes on the line by shifting junior Evan Osborne from running back to defensive end and moving up senior Russell Brown from linebacker. Seniors Jeremy Boyd and Trent Dunne will fill out the defensive line, and Niblett said he is “expecting big things” from junior Cam Hardy. Niblett said playing time at linebacker will rotate among at least a half-dozen players, led by seniors Matt McCay and Raymond Morris and juniors Landry Tullo and Jamal Lucas, who Niblett said “has a knack for finding the football.” The most recognizable name in the secondary is sophomore Marlon Humphrey, the son of former Alabama Crimson Tide and NFL running back Bobby Humphrey. “He doesn’t look like a sophomore,” Niblett said. “He has the maturity to play corner this year.” The other cornerbacks will be seniors Nigel Cribbs and Beau Richardson. Lining up at safety will be senior Blake Patterson and juniors Devon Earl, Calen Campbell and Josh Campbell. The Bucs have senior returning starters at both placekicker (Larsen Real) and long snapper (William Eads, whom Niblett calls “the best long snapper in the state”). Sophomore Tuck Borie and junior Patrick Gentile are competing for the starting punter position. The Bucs will be tested right away, with

a season-opener against South Panola, the 2010 high school national champion from Batesville, Miss. “We’re throwing them into the fire early,” Niblett said of his players. “We tried to do our best (during preseason practice) to put them into situations where we can play as well as possible.” Hoover’s slogan this season is Success Has Its Price, or SHIP. Niblett said he

Homewood from page 9

really well for us to have a good defense,” Goodwin said. “At times last year I don’t think they played as well as they could have. It’s really important that we’re much improved on the line of scrimmage.” Senior Christopher Finley will start at one defensive end position in Homewood’s 3-4 scheme, with junior Jesus Gallardo at nose guard. Goodwin said the other end position likely will be split between senior D.Q. Mitchell and junior Jay Williams. Senior Aaron Rowell is back from a knee injury and is expected to lead the linebackers. He will be joined by junior Connor Rivers, senior Tywuan Ward and junior Forrest Gaines. Senior Lakeith Walker also should see considerable playing time. In the secondary, Homewood returns All-Metro safety John Hudson, who had six interceptions last season. The other safety

Briarwood from page 7

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point average. The starter at left guard is junior Jonathan Paramore. “We should have a good offensive line,” Yancey cautioned. “We could have a great one – but we’re not quite there yet.” Zach Sharp, a sophomore, will handle the placekicking duties. Craft will be the punter. As good as his offense looks, Yancey knows that Briarwood’s defense will be the key to whether the Lions make a return visit to the Class 5A championship game. “We are very solid in the secondary and with our linebackers,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good players returning. The question will be our front line.” Wesley Jones has been moved over from offense to shore up the front wall. Jones may lack experience, but at 6-2, 265 pounds, he brings plenty of size and strength to the nose man position. The ends will be junior Jordan Carroll and senior Jake Whaley. “Jordan and Jake are good athletes and will do fine,” Yancey predicted. A returning starter in the line is Jackson Thomas, a 240-pounder. Briarwood’s linebacker corps should be outstanding. In the middle is senior Roy Gilbert, who led the team with more than 100 tackles last fall. “Roy can run, chase and tackle,” said Yancey. “He’s a great high school football player.” Two excellent linebackers will flank Gilbert. Senior David Townes and junior Justin Palmer give the Lions an excellent trio. It’s a snowy day in July when Briarwood has a weak secondary, and this

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

wants people to refer to the team’s home stadium as The Ship. With a goal, of course, of having the Bucs sail back to the Class 6A championship game, something they have done 10 times in the past 11 seasons. “If our kids take leadership and ownership of what we’re doing,” Niblett said, “they will give themselves a chance of playing for a championship.”❖ will be senior Warner Thompson. Senior Johnathan Gooden will start at cornerback, while Barber and Schatz will see time at corner in addition to their offensive duties. Junior Matthew Anderson will be the placekicker; junior Jay Williams will handle kickoffs. Williams and Baggett will share punting duties. The holder will be backup quarterback Luke Porter, a junior. There is much for the Patriots to learn this season, as Goodwin becomes familiar with all the new names and faces around him and the players adjust to a new head coach. But the goal for all is the same, to make the playoffs and establish Homewood as a postseason factor once again. “Anytime you have a new guy coming in with his philosophy, just the newness of it in general creates some sense of excitement. That’s what we’ve experienced here,” Goodwin said. “It’s something different, and I think the players have really bought in and done everything we’ve asked them to do. We just want them to bring a positive attitude and try to get better every day.”❖ season will be no exception. Senior Kalan Reid, a University of Southern Mississippi commitment, may be one of the finest defensive backs in school history. Reid runs a blazing 4.5 in the 40 yard dash. “Kalan finished second in the state in the high hurdles,” said Yancey. “He’s a great athlete.” The other cornerback is Devin Bowman, who earned All-Over the Mountain honors a year ago and led the team in interceptions. Chad Davis, a three-year starter, is at one safety spot. Will Byers holds down the other slot. Both are outstanding. Junior Barnes Bankston will provide valuable depth, and see plenty of playing time. “Barnes could be a starter at a lot of other schools,” said Yancey. Briarwood will once again compete in Class 5A’s Region 5, which is one of the classification’s toughest leagues. Yancey wasn’t afraid to take on strong opponents outside the region: The Lions open the season against Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in Georgia and host Class 6A superpower Vestavia Hills Sept. 23. “Playing Vestavia is our open date week,” Yancey said, laughing. “Seriously, playing Coach (Buddy) Anderson and his team is always a great challenge for us. Even in years when they’ve beaten us, it has helped us as a team down the road.” Speaking of the road, that’s one place Yancey – at age 66 – isn’t planning on hitting anytime soon. “I feel good and still enjoy what I do,” he said. “As long as the folks at Briarwood want me, I will be here. I have a brother who is still coaching at age 71. I’d like to go at least as long as he does.” Yancey may not be going anywhere, but Briarwood is definitely going a long way. It may go all the way to the state 5A championship.❖


OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Mountain Brook, from page 15

give opposing defenses something else to think about in practice. But Yeager said the job is wide open. “The issue of who’s going to punt is one of the biggest question marks on our team,” said the coach. There’s no question, however, that Mountain Brook’s schedule is brutal. The Spartans once again compete in Class 6A’s Region 6, arguably the toughest league this side of the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division. The good news is that Mountain Brook faces perennial toughies

Spain Park The Rebels are still aligned in Class 6A’s Region 6, almost certainly Alabama’s toughest division. One date to circle, of course, is Oct. 14, when the Rebels host Journal file photo archrival Hoover.

Vestavia from page 21

against the likes of Mountain Brook and Spain Park weren’t tough enough, Vestavia visits Class 5A power Briarwood Sept. 23. “I’m going to enjoy our schedule about as much as a root canal,” said Anderson, laughing. “We really don’t have an easy game.” One date to circle, of course, is Oct. 14, when the Rebels host archrival Hoover.

Although Anderson is a 61-year-old grandfather, he has no plans to hang up his whistle anytime soon. “Coaching high school boys is my hobby,” he said. “I don’t play golf, hunt or fish. This (coaching) is what I enjoy. God called me to be a coach, and I’m going to do it as long as I think I’m contributing something to these kids’ lives.” Anderson will definitely contribute greatly to his players’ lives. In 2011, the wily veteran coach is likely to lead them to a lot of victories, too.❖

from page 19

Justin Carter, who has committed to Rice. He’ll really hit you. “At cornerback Devon Brown has improved and made himself into a really good football player. He’s also committed to UAB. And Chris Humes is just a phenomenal talent. He’s not committed yet, but he has a ton of Division I offers.” The starting linebackers will be juniors Jeniah Jackson and Jacob Wolkow and senior Alex Roberson, who has moved to the defense after playing running back last season. “He has taken to (defense) like a duck to water,” Lindsey said. “He’s really brought us a physical presence out there and is a

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011 • 23

Vestavia Hills, Pelham and Hoover in the friendly confines of Spartan Stadium. “Our region is the toughest in the state,” said Yeager. “Every year, we just shuffle the deck and hope we are one of the top four who make the playoffs.” Yeager said that his team’s ability to fight complacency is the key to a successful season. “In some ways, all our teams at Mountain Brook are the same,” said Yeager. “We always have a lot of guys who stand 5-10 and weigh 185 pounds. The key to success is how much heart we have and how much we use our head.” If the Spartans’ hearts and heads are just right, a 10-win season is a real possibility.❖ guy who can run fast as well.” The defensive line will be led by junior Jacob Chaffin, who Lindsey said is “a big kid who plays with a lot of intensity.” He will be joined on the line by senior defensive ends Kameron Ricks and Dustin Coward and seniors Mo Mills and Devonte Moyer, who will share time at nose guard. The goal for this group is to make the Class 6A playoffs for the third consecutive season and the fourth time in the past five years. Lindsey says simply qualifying for the playoffs out of the tough Region 6 can be the mark of a successful season. “If you can get in the playoffs out of this region, you’re going to have a good chance to advance a few rounds,” Lindsey said. “So the goal going into the season is to just make sure we make the playoffs. “If you get a shot for anything after that, then that’s just extra.”❖

Orthopedic care that can keep you in the game. Whether you’re a highly trained athlete or a valiant weekend warrior, the advanced orthopedic care at Trinity Medical Center can help you stay in the game. We provide comprehensive bone and joint care that includes sports medicine, trauma care and more. We’ve also been named a Blue Distinction Center® for Knee and Hip Replacement for better overall quality of care and results for patients having these surgeries. So don’t sit out another day. Visit TrinityMedicalOnline.com/ortho. Designation as Blue Distinction Centers means these facilities’ overall experience and aggregate data met objective criteria established in collaboration with expert clinicians’ and leading professional organizations’ recommendations. Individual outcomes may vary. To find out which services are covered under your policy at any facilities, please call your local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield Plan; and call your provider before making an appointment, to verify the most current information on its Network participation and Blue Distinction status. Neither Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association nor any of its Licensees are responsible for any damages, losses, or non-covered charges that may result from using Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or receiving care from a Blue Distinction or other provider.

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24 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

2011 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

OVER THE MOUNTAIN JOURNAL


Over the Mountain Journal 2011 Football Preivew