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2010 OTM High School Football Preview Team Profiles, Schedules, Team Photos and Rosters, Key Players to Watch and More!


NEW AGE page 6















2 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010





Once Again Area Football Will Dominate State Scene BY LEE DAVIS JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER


n some people’s minds, high school football in Alabama went back to normal in 2009. That’s because after a three-year drought, the Hoover Bucs regained the state 6A crown. Hoover’s return to the top of the heap was the first of many head-turning events for Over-the-Mountain schools in the season just past. Coach Buddy Anderson’s Vestavia Hills Rebels – who handed the Bucs their only defeat – suffered a surprising regular season loss to Pelham and an even more surprising playoff defeat at the hands of Minor. Spain Park led archrival Hoover 21-0 at the half, only to fall by a painfully close 24-21 count. Homewood struggled early but battled back to be one of the area’s stronger teams by the end of the season. Mountain Brook and Oak Mountain suffered through disappointing years, but Briarwood and John Carroll Catholic turned in solid records in Class 5A. All of that was memorable, but it’s also part of the past. The new season is upon us, and like life itself, the more things change, the more they stay the same. All of the Overthe-Mountain Class 6A teams are bunched in Region 6, which also includes Pelham and Thompson. Class 5A’s Briarwood and John Carroll will compete in Regions 5 and 4, respectively. The Hoover Bucs once again begin the season as the team to beat, both in their region and statewide. Coach Josh Niblett won the state championship in the second year of his tenure, after finishing runner-up the previous season. Ryan Carter returns for his senior season as the Bucs’ quarterback and is likely to be better than ever. This year, the date to circle on your calendar is Oct. 15, when Hoover hosts archrival Vestavia Hills. After the Rebels’ 30-27 upset last year, this year’s renewal should be classic. Once again, the road to the state championship leads through Hoover. Over the last 33 years, Coach Buddy Anderson has become synonymous with Vestavia football. And with good reason: For three decades, he has commanded one of the state’s best programs. Many thought the Rebels might claim their third state title last season, before they were beaten by Minor in the playoffs’ first round. Many of the stars of that team are gone, but it’s a snowy day in August when Vestavia is low on talent. Georgie Salem has the ability to be an outstanding running back. And maybe best of all for the Rebels is that Anderson probably knows what it takes to defeat Hoover better than anyone in north Alabama. Spain Park put together an impressive 10-3 mark last season, but even that couldn’t completely erase the disappointment of the loss to Hoover. Without a doubt, however, Coach David Shores has established the Jaguars as a legitimate statewide power. Look for more success this fall – and

This year, the date to circle on your calendar is Oct. 15, when Hoover hosts archrival Vestavia Hills. After the Rebels’ 30-27 upset last year, this year’s renewal should be classic. remember that the Bucs must go to Spain Park to meet the Jags this year. Homewood once again got off to a slow start in 2009, but that’s an occupational hazard when a team faces the likes of Hoover and Vestavia in the first half of the season. The Patriots were only a few students away from moving down to smaller Class 5A – a classification they dominated for years. But Homewood fans shouldn’t despair; this could be a big year for Coach Dickey Wright’s team. Senior Ameer Abdullah may be one of the finest running backs in Alabama. Homewood may not contend for a state title, but you can always count on the Patriots to pull off an upset or two. Mountain Brook posted a 4-6 record

last autumn, which is far below what the Spartans usually produce. Coach Chris Yeager’s players are determined to bounce back in a big way and probably have the tools to do so. Linebacker Miller Williams leads what should be a sound Mountain Brook defensive unit. As usual, however, the Spartans’ schedule is brutal as they open with Shades Valley, Vestavia, Pelham and Homewood in their first four games. Oak Mountain went 4-6 in Coach Jeff Harris’s first season but could do much better this time. The schedule, however, is difficult, as the Eagles face Hoover and Spain Park in succession in September. The good news is that the talent level at Heardmont Park is rising, and that could be bad news

for some of Oak Mountain’s opponents. In Class 5A, the Briarwood Lions may have the skills to compete for their first state championship since 2003. Coach Fred Yancey has a large and talented offensive line and enough talented athletes overall to make a serious run for the title. It’s possible that John Carroll Catholic fans haven’t been so excited about an upcoming football season since the 1970s. Coach Chris Musso welcomed back an impressive array of football players. There’s something special brewing on the Carroll campus and there may be more to it than many people realize. Enough talk. Let’s go play. ❖



THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 3

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4 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010


Samford Homecoming



Clay Plays College Football In Familiar Surroundings BY CARY ESTES



ohn Michael Clay has been running around the Samford University football field for 20 years. Which is saying a lot, since he is just now entering his senior season as a defensive lineman with the Bulldogs. But as the son of two Samford alums, Clay said Seibert Stadium was his second home as a small child. His parents attended most of the games while he was growing up in Vestavia Hills, and he said he has been sliding down the grassy hills surrounding the playing field “since I was a baby.” So it’s only appropriate that for the past three years, Clay has been just as much a fixture on the Seibert Stadium field as a player as he once was in the stands as a fan. Clay has played in 32 of the Bulldogs’ 33 games since his freshman season in 2007 and has started 21 of the past 22 games. “He’s been one of the staples on our team since I got here,” said Samford head coach Pat Sullivan, whose first year with the Bulldogs coincided with Clay’s freshman season. “We always know that John Michael is out there. We don’t worry about what we’re going to get from him.” All of this seemed like an unlikely scenario just five years ago. As a freshman on the Vestavia Hills football team, Clay kept experiencing pinched nerves in his neck, known as burners or stingers. He finally received an MRI and was diagnosed with cervical stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal. The situation wasn’t overly serious, but doctors suggested it would probably be best if Clay didn’t participate in a violent contact sport like football. So Clay spent the next two years working with the football team as a student coach, while continuing to compete for the Vestavia Hills wrestling and baseball teams. Then before he began his senior year, new tests revealed that Clay’s condition had improved, and he was cleared by a neurosurgeon and a cervical specialist to play football. Despite some anxious moments from his mother (“She was scared at first,” Clay said), he returned to the football field just in time for a farewell season with the Rebels. That one season was enough for Clay to show what he was capable of doing on the field. He had 82 tackles, four quarterback sacks and two fumble recoveries. He was named to the All-Over the Mountain first team and received honorable mention allstate honors. Clay’s performance caught Sullivan’s attention, and Samford was one of the few teams to offer Clay a football scholarship. “You could see the potential for him to be what he is today,” Sullivan said. “You saw that big ol’ frame with that tough mentality. It was just a matter of him getting the reps and some time to put the weight on.

John Michael Clay has played in 32 of the Bulldogs’ 33 games since his freshman season in 2007 and has started 21 of Photos courtesy Samford Athletics the past 22 games. And now you have a really good player. “He comes to play with a wrestler’s mentality. Every day, he’s giving it everything he’s got. You know what you have with him every time that you tee it up.” Clay agrees with the assessment that he plays football with a wrestler’s mentality. After all, he spent more time at Vestavia Hills wrestling than he did playing football, and he said much of what he learned from the sport has carried over to his college football career. “To be a wrestler, you have to understand that your body has a limit, and then you have to be willing to go much further,” Clay said. “If you can accept that and then use it on the football field, it gives you an even bigger edge on outworking your opponent. Because you’ll never quit. “It’s hard to break somebody who is a

wrestler. A wrestling practice is a lot more intense and grueling than a football practice. It helps give that mental edge to any player. “Being a lineman, it’s pretty much a wrestling match out there anyway. Just all the arms flailing and gaining leverage. “I learned a lot from our football coaches at Vestavia. They taught me a lot about being a football player and being a man. “But the wrestling comes in handy every day.” Whatever the key has been, it certainly has worked. Clay had 37 tackles and six sacks last season in being named second-team All-Southern Conference. And Sullivan said Clay is unquestionably one of the most important players on the Samford defense this season. “He can bring it on the pass rush, he’s

solid on the run, he can protect on our punt team,” Sullivan said. “He just does whatever you ask him to do.” That will be the case for one final season at Samford. While his parents cheer from the stands and new children slide down the hills at Seibert Stadium, Clay will take to the field and continue a journey that has been 20 years in the making. “I always thought I wouldn’t go to Samford, that I would do something different,” Clay said. “But I had an opportunity to play football here, and I couldn’t turn it down. I’m truly blessed that I did come here. “Now all I want to do is have a relationship with my teammates that I can carry on throughout the years and make some memories that I can cherish.” ❖

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2010 Briarwood High School Football Schedule Date

Aug. 27 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 17 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 8 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 29


Demopolis Moody Erwin Chelsea Vestavia Hills Talladega Pinson Valley Shelby County Sylacauga Anniston





Jacksonville Pleasant Grove McAdory Parker Chelsea Wenonah Woodlawn Hueytown Fairfield Thompson



2010 Spain Park High School Football Schedule Date

Aug. 28 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 16 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 8 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 29



North Gwinnett (Ga.) Hoover Homewood Oak Mountain Bob Jones Mountain Brook Vestavia Hills Pelham Thompson Clay-Chalkville

Away Away Away HOME HC Away HOME HOME Away Away

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Aug. 27 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 16 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 8 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 29


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

Location HOME Away HOME Away Away Away HOME Away HOME HOME

2010 Hoover High School Football Schedule Date

Aug. 28 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 17 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 8 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 28

Aug. 27 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 16 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 7 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 29


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


HOME Away Away HOME HOME HC Away HOME Away Away


Aug. 27 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 16 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 8 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 29



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


Away Away Away HOME HC HOME HOME Away HOME Away




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



2010 Vestavia High School Football Schedule

2010 Shades Mountain Christian High School Football Schedule Aug. 27 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 17 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 8 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 29


Byrnes (S.C.) Spain Park Oak Mountain Thompson Gadsden City Pelham Homewood Vestavia Hills Mountain Brook Bob Jones

2010 Oak Mtn. High School Football Schedule

2010 Mtn. Brook. High School Football Schedule Date

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2010 Homewood High School Football Schedule

2010 John Carroll High School Football Schedule Aug. 27 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 17 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 8 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 29

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 5




Aug. 27 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 17 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 8. Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 28


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


Away HOME HOME Away HC HOME Away Away HOME Away

6 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010



Members of the 2010 Briarwood Christian High School varsity football team include Cole Pearson, Ben Craft, Zacahary Bekken, Kalan Reed, Regan White, Matthew Furito, Jon Stapleton, Keith Stapleton, Kevin McKelvey, Tanner Cunningham, Daniel Robert, Sam Morris, Phillip Smith, Bankston Barnes, Holden Gulley, Grier McMillian, Chad Davis, Justin Palmer, Ben Parks, Wilson Whorton, Gunner Patrick, Forest Roberson, Will Byers, Matthew Caldwell, Dylan Harrington, Keeton Russell, William Rutledge, Cooper Harrington, Jackson Crutchfield, Wynne Morris, Taylor Core, Tanner Gann, Jordan Carroll, Michael Day, Scottie Dreher, David Townes, Michael Belling, John Dutton, Tom Muir-Taylor, Roy Gilbert, Tyler Nix, Turner Herron, David Hodges, Wells Holliday, Kevin Wilson, Chris Waltz, Robert Price, Drew Campbell, Patrick Morton, Jake Proctor, Jonathan Paramore, Tyler Mitchell, Kyle Jennings, Brooks Bell, Dahler Battle, D.J. Johnson, Matthew Drennen, Wesley Jones, Jared Core, Arjen Meter, Tyler Whitworth, Karson Jones, Jake Whaley, Jackson Thomas, Nick Maxey, Tim Crenshaw, Alex Cain, David Carlin, Bradley Byers, Preston Pittman, Caleb Ward, Camdon Condo, Taylor Bussel, Michael Lathem, Will Dyson, Miller Bradford, Devin Bowman, Harlan Bailey, J.D. Parkerson, Brooks Willoughby, Carter Tyra, Jim Bosley, Gabe Partain, Cole Lanier, Houston Herron, Wade Cline, John Roberson, Thomas Hess and Canon Smith.


New Age

Briarwood Success Keeps Coach Looking Young BY LEE DAVIS JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER


elieve it or not, Briarwood coach Fred Yancey turns 65 this year. Yancey could easily pass for a man who is 10 years younger, a rare distinction for someone who has spent his entire professional life coaching big-time high school football. One reason Yancey looks so young is because he’s had a lot of success since taking over the Lion program 21 years ago. Briarwood was a traditional doormat when he arrived on campus, but the Memphis native has built his team into one of Class 5A’s most consistent powers. And for all his success, Yancey doesn’t seem in any hurry to retire. “I’m planning on being here as long as they want me,” he promises. “Briarwood is my last stop.” The odds are certain that the school administration is going to want him around for a long time. Briarwood posted a 9-4 record in 2009 but looks to be much stronger this time around. “We had a good team last year, but now the hard part is making the jump from good to great,” said Yancey. “We’ve got a good group of kids, who have worked hard

in the off-season. I feel like we have the talent, so if we continue to work hard, we could have a big year.” Yancey isn’t kidding. The Lions are talented and deep enough to be a legitimate contender for the state 5A title. Two top quarterbacks are available to run Yancey’s spread offense. Junior Ben Craft and sophomore Tanner Cunningham are excellent passers and runners. Neither had won the starting role by press time. Suffice it to say that Yancey thinks he’ll be

in good hands no matter who wins the job. “Ben and Tanner both do a lot of good things,” said the coach. Junior Sam Whitaker returns as fullback for the Lions. A power runner at 215 pounds, Whitaker is difficult to bring down. Matthew Furito, a junior, will be the starter at the other running back spot and help make Briarwood’s running game one of the best in the area. Craft and Cunningham will have superb targets at wide receiver. Junior Devan

Key Players to Watch Lion leaders with Coach Fred Yancey are, from left: Cooper Harrington, Wilson Whorton, Caleb Ward and Tyler Whitworth.

Bowman and senior Wilson Whorton can both catch the ball and run effectively. Michael Lathem will be another wide receiver and also share tight end responsibilities with Canon Smith. Yancey has his largest offensive line since 2003 – which may be a good omen since that was the last year Briarwood won a state championship. But the line is not only large, it’s talented. The center is Nick Maxey, a 250-pound returning starter. On the left side are tackle Tim Crenshaw and guard Preston Pittman, who both weigh 265 pounds. On the right are guard Patrick Morton, who weighs 265, and tackle Bradley Byers, who weighs 245. Providing valuable depth will be Alex Cain at 260 and Wesley Jones, a 245pounder. DEFENSE Briarwood’s defensive unit returns relatively few starters, but that could be deceptive. “We have a lot of kids that didn’t start last year but saw plenty of playing time,” said Yancey.

Quick Facts 2009 Record: 9-4 Head Coach: Fred Yancey Stadium: Lion Pride Stadium Region: Class 5A Region 5 Region Opponents: Chelsea, Erwin, Moody, Pinson Valley, Shelby County, Sylacauga, and Talladega State Championships: 1977, 1998, 1999, 2003

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 7



Reed will also get the job done. Forest Roberson will relieve all of the starters in the secondary. As always, the goals Date Opponent Location are high. “We’d like to go as Aug. 27 Demopolis Home deep in the playoffs as Sept. 3 Moody Home we can,” said Yancey. “Somebody’s got to go to Sept. 10 Erwin Away Auburn (to play for the state 5A championship), Sept. 17 Chelsea Home so it might as well be us.” Sept. 24 Vestavia Hills Away The Lions clearly have the makings of a team Oct. 1 Talladega Away capable of a strong playoff run, but it won’t be Oct. 8 Pinson Valley Away easy. Briarwood moves Oct. 15 Shelby County HC into Region 5, which includes Chelsea, Erwin, Oct. 22 Sylacauga Home Moody, Pinson Valley, Shelby County, Sylacauga Oct. 29 Anniston Home and Talladega. Outside of the region, the Lions face defending state 5A champ The defensive ends are Caleb Ward, Demopolis and perennial 6A superpower a three-year starter, and Jake Whaley. Senior Tyler Whitworth and junior Jackson Vestavia Hills. Thomas are the interior tackles. Canon RETURNING LION Smith and Thomas Hess will provide A new addition to Briarwood’s staff is depth. former Lion quarterback Joe Craddock as The talented trio of Brooks Willoughby, offensive coordinator. Craddock starred at Roy Gilbert and Tom Muir-Taylor will man Middle Tennessee State University before the linebacker spots. returning to his high school alma mater. As usual, the secondary will be one “It’s good to have Joe back,” said of the strongest components of the Lion Yancey. “We try to be like a family here.” defense. Cooper Harrington – who has The family feeling is great, but success already committed to the University of on the field is why Yancey looks much Southern Mississippi – will play at one younger than his 65 years. This year’s team safety spot and see some work on offense, isn’t likely to age him much either.❖ too. Chad Davis, Wynne Morris and Kalan

2010 Briarwood High School Football Schedule

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8 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010



Members of the 2010 Homewood High School varsity football team include: Ernest Bell, Ameer Abdullah, Aaron Rowell, Devante Brown, Kenny Thompson, Adam Salls, John Hudson, Luke Porter, Warner Thompson, Stephen Baggett, Ronnie House, Trey Holman, Caine Kadle, Burke Smith, Noah Crocker, Taylor Alford, Matt Anderson, Nyck Young, Connor Kadle, Grant Smith, Justin Hardy, Oliver Fort, Quindarius Jones, Eric Schatz, Jaquan Barber, C.J. Mizerany, Will Pearson, Connor Rivers, Arthur Alexis, Nate Mann, Micah Martin, Cole Preston, Chris O’Neal, Jordan Edwards, Rolando Bishop, Jay Williams, Forrest Gaines, Horace Richardson, Tywaun Ward, David Boyette, Montell Davis, Conner Peterson, Mark Rawls, Patrick Stevens, Zack Johnson, D.Q. Mitchell, Junior Villegas, Darrion Young, Stephen Hines, John Helf, Jake Ankenbrandt, Preston Fittro, Bobby Brown, Sergio Dominquez, Kern Williams, Chris Finley, Zac Sims, Micah Brittingham, Raphael Trinidad, Jesus Gallardo, Anthony Waldrop, John David Cook, Denis Ngei, Breon Bilal, Johnny Scott, Aaron Ernest, Burton Nabors, Mohoud Yagoub, Taylor Alford and Charles Berry.


Building Blocks

Strong ’09 Finish Should Give Pats a Good Start BY CARY ESTES



ll 5-5 seasons are not created equal. Homewood head coach Dickey Wright experienced that firsthand last year, as the Patriots lost their starting quarterback in the opening game, began the season 0-4 and then rallied for a .500 record that, in many ways, felt like a winning campaign. “I was real proud of the way our kids finished off the season as strongly as they did,” Wright said. “Most teams would have probably folded. “Our kids showed a lot of character in sticking with it and sticking with the plan that we had outlined. And they wound up playing real consistent ball the second half of the season.” Not only did the Patriots close the 2009 season by winning five of their final six games, but three of their losses were by a touchdown or less. So despite the early injury to quarterback Garrett Powell, Homewood was not far from being a playoff team. Wright said his returning players know that, and he expects the positive feelings

from last year to carry over into this season. “All you can ask is that you get yourself in position to win, and we did that for the most part last year,” Wright said. “So our kids are excited about this season. We finished on a positive note last year, and it carried over to our off-season program and spring training. “Now we have to go out and produce.”

Stephen Baggett stepped in as the starting quarterback after Powell was injured. Baggett was only a sophomore at the time, and Wright said it “took him a little while to get his consistency.” But now Baggett has a full year of playing and practice experience, and Wright said he expects to see considerable improvement from the junior this season. “He’s always been a real good runner,

Key Players to Watch Patriot key players with Coach Dickey Wright are, front, from left: Jake Ankenbrandt, Stephen Baggett and Chris O'Neal. Standing from left: Grant Smith and Ameer Abdullah.

and now he’s improved his arm strength and accuracy tremendously,” Wright said. “He had a real good off-season and preseason practice so far.” Senior tailback Ameer Abdullah, who rushed for nearly 1,100 yards and scored 14 touchdowns last season, returns as the Patriots’ primary threat out of the backfield. Abdullah, the MVP of the Arians Pro Football Academy Combine this summer, is such a talented player that Wright said he will line up occasionally as a slot receiver and play some defense. “He’s tremendously fast, probably one of the quickest kids I’ve ever been around,” Wright said. “He looks small (5-9, 170 pounds), but he makes up for it with his speed. “He had a tremendous off-season in a lot of camps and combines. He’s just an all-around great athlete.” Speed also can be found at the wide receiver position; senior Aaron Ernest, Wright said, has been electronically timed at 10.4 seconds in the 100 meters.

Quick Facts 2009 Record: 5-5 Head Coach: Dickey Wright Stadium: Waldrop Stadium Region: Class 6A, Region 6 Region Opponents: Hoover, Mountain Brook, Oak Mountain, Pelham, Spain Park, Thompson, Vestavia Hills State Championships: 6 - 1974, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004. 2005



2010 Homewood High School Football Schedule Date


Aug. 27 Sept. 3 Sept. 10 Sept. 16 Sept. 24 Oct. 1 Oct. 8 Oct. 15 Oct. 22 Oct. 29

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

“That kind of speaks for itself,” said Wright. “Aaron is the fastest guy on our team, maybe one of the fastest kids we’ve ever had in our program. Hopefully he can have another good year for us.” Adam Salls will join Ernest in the starting lineup at receiver, and Wright said the senior is a contrast in style to Ernest. “He’s not the fastest kid in the world, but he has good height (6-2) and he runs great routes and has good hands,” Wright said. “He’s hopefully going to be one of those possession receivers who you count on getting the first down when you need it.” The only returning fulltime starter along the offensive line is senior Jake

Location Home Away Home Away Away Away Home Away Home Home

Ankenbrandt. Wright said the rest of the line will be composed primarily of juniors who received some playing time last season, but didn’t start. “Most of our line has been with us, they just didn’t fill starting roles last year,” said Wright. “They were a lot of backups. “Jake is really the only true starter back from last year. We’re junior heavy on the offensive line. There are some seniors who are going to be in the rotation, but Jake is the one who started most of last year. “He’s done a really good job with leadership this summer.”

DEFENSE The Patriots also have quite a few new faces on defense. In fact, Wright said the team has only three defensive players who started last season. “We start with Grant Smith at linebacker,” Wright said. “He played outside linebacker last year and has moved to inside this year. He’s going to have to be one of our primary leaders on defense. “At free safety we have Micah Martin. We’ll kind of build the center of our defense around him and Grant. “And then at defensive tackle we have Stephen Hines. He played on a rotational basis for us last year, and we’re hoping he will have a big year for us this year.

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See Homewood, page 22


THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 9

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10 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010




Full Speed Ahead No Looking Back For Hoover Bucs BY CARY ESTES



he record book says the Hoover Bucs are the defending Class 6A state champions. But don’t tell that to Hoover head coach Josh Niblett. As far as he’s concerned, there is no need to make any connection between this year’s Hoover team and the 2009 edition. “We’re not defending anything or repeating anything. It’s a new year,” Niblett said. “This is a different group. This group has a legacy they have to build for themselves.” Of course, while that might be the attitude the Bucs are taking within the team, the outside world has a significantly different view of Hoover. The Bucs are ranked No. 1 in Class 6A in the Alabama Sports Writers Association preseason poll, and it’s not even close. Hoover received 35 of 36 first-place votes, with second-place Prattville receiving the remaining vote. Several national polls have Hoover ranked as one of the top 10 teams in the country. That’s what happens when a program enjoys the run of success Hoover has had the past decade. Last year’s title was Hoover’s sixth in the 10-year span from 2000 to 2009 (though the first since 2005), to go along with three runner-up finishes. The Bucs’ 14-1 record last year means that since 2000, they have gone an astounding 135-12. So while Niblett is working to keep his players grounded, he acknowledges that most people have sky-high expectations for his team. “We understand the expectations within our community and this state, and within the country, really,” Niblett said. “We were very blessed to have had the success we had last year. “But while I want our kids to remember that feeling, the biggest thing is for them to understand how hard they worked to get there. And then you have to take it to even another level, because everybody you play this year is going to be shooting for that target on your back.” Hoover has some holes to fill this season, especially at wide receiver. The Bucs lost 10 starters (five on offense and five on defense), and while many of the backups from last year probably will prove to be talented players, the fact is some starters will begin this season lacking in playing experience. “It doesn’t matter whether you view the glass as half full or half empty. Either way, it still isn’t full,” Niblett said. “We are going to work as hard as we can to make sure we are a full-glass team.” A returning starting quarterback is always a good way to help fill that glass, and Hoover has that in Ryan Carter, who “has done a great job of developing,” Niblett said. The question is: To whom will Carter throw the ball now that Maudrecus Humphrey has left for Arkansas and Josh Magee has gone to Southern Miss? Enter Jaylon Denson, who already has

Members of the 2010 Hoover High School varsity football team are: Robert Richardson, Reginald Johnson, Preston Sanford, Josh Jackson, Dakota Daniel, Justin McArthur, Nigel Cribbs, Caleb Sims, Sam Gillikin, Scott Head, Christian Sanford, Xavier Woods, Payton Holmes, Bradley Bramblett, Ryan Carter, Larsen Real, Ce’Derrious Davis, Will McCallum, Drew Neill, Jerry Woody, Connor Coskery, Richard Gilliland, Montez Carlton, Harley Cadet, Brett Bowden, Philip Crochen, Braxton Lowe, Marcus Matthews, Malcolm Hollifield, Brandon Cochran, Blake Patterson, Matt McCay, Jason Jones, Brandon Clark, Craig White, Tyler Roberts, Andrew Nix, Ryan Winters, Raymond Morris, Teryence Glaze, Russell Brown, Kenneth Shanks, Shane Price, Jake Crozier, Connor Eagan, Jeremiah Harris, Eric Sledge, Taylor Mason, Jay Rogers, Jackson Armstrong, Jeremy Boyd, Kevin Belk, Logan Paul, John Salter, Grant Wyatt, Jacob Blenkinsop, Daniel Aust, Blake Burk, Juwan Hudson, Brandon Morgan, Carson Haley, William Eads, Markius Wright, Brandon Sly, Bryant Harris, Courtney Grant, Davis Vickery, Jaylon Denson, Damon Holditch, Michael Nysewander, Trent Dunne, Rod Toliver, Kadarius Embry, Henderson Jerrick, Rickney Hunter, Max Elliott and Brad Shaw. committed to Auburn. Denson had to bide his time last season at tight end, but now the 6-3, 205-pound senior has moved to wideout, where Niblett said he will be Hoover’s “big target.”

“He has good speed and is very physical,” Niblett said. “He gives us that presence on the outside that can create a matchup problem if somebody goes one-on-one with him. He’s a hard guy to tackle and a

Key Players to Watch

hard guy to cover because he’s so physical and strong.” Joining Denson in the receiving corps are Reginald Johnson and Dakota Daniel. Caleb Sims will line up at both receiver and running back and will also return punts. The Bucs return their leading rusher from last season, the speedy Justin McArthur. He will be paired with 200pound Brandon Cochran, giving Hoover a varied one-two punch out of the backfield. “Those two guys are a big part of our offense,” Niblett said. “Justin is more of a speed guy, a breakaway guy. Brandon is more of our physical guy who gets the hard yards inside and does a really good job blocking and catching the ball.”

Quick Facts

With Coach Josh Niblett are key Buc leaders, from left: Ryan Carter, Brandon Morgan, Blake Burk and Brett Bowden.

2009 record: 14-1 Head Coach: Josh Niblett Stadium: Regions Park Class Region: Class 6A, Region 6 Region opponents: Spain Park, Oak Mountain, Thompson, Pelham, Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook State Championships: 7 - 1977, 1982, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009



Niblett said. “But I’m very excited about how well they’ve done and how much we’ve been able to install.” The Bucs have plenty Date Opponent Location of experience along the defensive line. Tyler Aug. 28 Byrnes (S.C.) Away Roberts and Michael Nysewander both started Sept. 3 Spain Park Home last season at defensive Sept. 10 Oak Mountain Away end, and Max Elliott started the second half of the Sept. 17 Thompson Away season at defensive tackle. “Tyler and Michael Sept. 24 Gadsden City Home both play with a lot of Oct. 1 Pelham Home high energy and do what you ask them to do,” Oct. 8 Homewood Away Niblett said. “Max Elliott improved as the season Oct. 15 Vestavia Hills Home went along last year, and he continued to get bigger Oct. 22 Mountain Brook Home and stronger in the weight Oct. 28 Bob Jones Away room during the off-season.” The starting lineHoover returns two starters on the backers will be led by offensive line in seniors Brandon Morgan Teryence Glaze, who “has unbelievable (6-1, 286 pounds) and Blake Burk (6-1, speed and tackles real well,” the coach 294). They will be joined by new starters said. Joining Glaze at linebacker will be Daniel Aust (6-2, 244), Carson Haley (6-1, Marcus Matthews, Braxton Lowe and 260) and Jake Crozier (6-1, 218). Connor Eagan. Larsen Real returns as the starting kickNiblett said he likes the team’s depth in er, while William Eads takes over as the the secondary, with four experienced playlong snapper. ers -- Preston Sanford, Montez Carlton, Nigel Cribbs and Ce’Derrious Davis -- able DEFENSE to line up at cornerback, and senior Brett Defensively, in addition to replacing Bowden leading the defense from the five starters, the Bucs have several new safety position. assistant coaches as well as some changes “Brett does a really good job of being in strategy and terminology. the quarterback for us as far as getting the “There are some new things we’re doing that the kids are having to pick up on,” See Hoover, page 22

2010 Hoover High School Football Schedule


THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 11



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12 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010



The 2010 John Carroll High School varsity football team includes Jonathan Hutchens, Brandon Turner, Antonio Hullum, Kameron Wood, Wesley Dismuke, Trevor Brooks, Trenton Covington, Michael Lathem, Johnny Boohaker, Nick Hand, Justin Brownlee, Will Mara, William Shores, Aron Vasha, Alfred Maiola, Trent Marshall, Philip West, Adric Merchant, Roderick Turner, Kenny Johnson, James Duncan, Trey Cotton, Conner Chandler, Taylor Schiffman, Michael Cowan, Marcus Richardson, Daniel Bostick, Robert Burgess, Ben Olivier, Gregory Giraud, Joey Marino, LeMonte Harris, Devonte Lee, Ellis Till, Rodney Cosby, Jalen Simpson, Christian Maziarz, Khory Marable, Eddie Washington, Devin Taylor, Taylor Eatmon, Conner Mara, Austin Baecher, David Tanory, Myles Foshee, Eduwardo Cedeno, Chase Foshee, Mauricio Cedeno, Leon Boackle, D.J. Culotta, Peter Atkins, Shellie Moore, Kevin Terry, Rob Williams, Alex Fawal, Jonathan Perlich and Ryan Carney.

John Carroll

Selling Point

Cavaliers Looking For Big Season In 2010 BY LEE DAVIS JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER


wo years ago, Chris Musso came to John Carroll Catholic selling a vision of the Cavaliers returning to the football heights they enjoyed in the 1960s and

1970s. In 2010, a lot of people are buying into that vision. After posting one of finest seasons in years, John Carroll is ready for more good

times. And Musso says there is one big reason for it. “Our kids have bought into the work ethic that we preached when we first came here,” he said. “They have brought a positive attitude and worked together as a team to get better.” The coach points with special pride to a senior class with 17 three-year starters, all whom have been with Musso from the beginning. “Those seniors are the strength of our team,” he said. “They have blended together well and create excitement for the whole program.” John Carroll’s option-oriented offense should bring some excitement, too. The quarterback is junior Johnny Boohaker, who shined at seven-on-seven camps throughout the state during the summer. “Johnny has a strong arm and is a real tough kid,” said Musso. “He also does a good job of reading defenses.”

Senior Will Mara will provide back-up help. In the backfield will be one of the best running tandems in all of Metro Birmingham. Senior running back Adric Merchant is a breakaway threat every time he touches a football. Marcus Richardson is outstanding as well. “They are great football players and great kids,” said Musso. “They are definitely college prospects.” Providing depth in the backfield are Daniel Bostick, Robert Burgess and Kenny Johnson. Carroll’s receiving corps should be excellent as seniors Trent Covington and Antonio Hullman are all-star candidates. Kameron Wood – who recently verbally committed to the University of Mississippi – is one of the best tight ends in Alabama. William Shores, Jonathan Perlich and Connor Chandler will also see playing time at tight end.

Key Players to Watch

Wesley Dismuke, the only sophomore starter, will play at wingback. The Cavs’ offensive line is solid. Senior Taylor Eatmon returns at center. Guards Khory Marable and Devin Taylor can explode off the ball. Juniors D.J. Culotta and Chase Foshee are capable at the tackle spots. For an idea of how good Carroll’s front wall can be, consider that Marable bench

“Our kids have bought into the work ethic that we preached when we first came here. They have brought a positive attitude and worked together as a team to get better.”

—Chris Musso

presses 340 pounds and can run a 4.8 40yard dash. Junior Michael Lathem will handle kickoff and punting duties. Jonathan Hutchens will kick field goals and extra points. DEFENSE The Cavs’ defensive unit might be one of the best in its region. The core of its strength could come from a group of outstanding linebackers. Daniel Bostick is the middle man, and Musso calls him “the leader of the defense.” Robert Burgess,

Quick Facts

Key members of the Caaliers' 2010 team, with Coach Chris Musso are, from left: Marcus RIchardson, Michael Cowan, Antonio Hullum, Kameron Wood, William Shores, Adric Merchant and Trent Covington.

2009 Record: 5-5 Head Coach: Chris Musso Stadium: John Carroll Field Region: Class 5A, Region 4 Region Opponents: Fairfield, Hueytown, McAdory, Parker, Pleasant Grove, Wenonah, Woodlawn State Championships: 1 - 1973




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McAdory, Parker, Wenonah, Woodlawn, Hueytown and Fairfield. The non-region schedule includes Jacksonville, Date Opponent Location Chelsea and Class 6A’s Thompson. Aug. 27 Jacksonville Away “There are no easy games,” said Musso. Sept. 3 Pleasant Grove Home “Every team in our region Sept. 10 McAdory Away has talent. We have to be ready to play every Friday Sept. 17 Parker Home night.” That may sound like Sept. 24 Chelsea Away standard coaches’ lanOct. 1 Wenonah Away guage, but the fact is that nobody considers the Oct. 8 Woodlawn Home Cavs an easy mark, either. Oct. 15 Hueytown Away GREAT EXPECTATIONS Oct. 22 Fairfield Home Expectations on the Lakeshore Drive campus Oct. 29 Thompson Home are as high as they’ve been in decades, but Musso believes slow and Kameron Wood and Marcus Richardson steady wins the race. will work the outside linebacker slots. “We’re going to look at every game as a John Carroll’s defensive front should weekly championship game,” Musso said. complement the linebacker corps nicely. “Week by week, all we want to do is to win William Shores, Rodney Cosby, LeMonte against the team we are playing. Harris and Jonathan Perlich are the starters “If you overlook anybody, you’re going upfront. to pay the price. We just want to go forThe secondary could be outstandward one step at a time.” ing as well. Free safety Michael Cowan Can John Carroll be a legitimate conintercepted seven passes in one day at a tender for the state 5A championship? seven-on-seven camp. Cornerback Trevor Brooks, Ben Olivier, Brandon Turner, Trent There’s no way to know for sure, but the Cavs clearly have the talent to be competiMarshall and Aron Vasha will all rotate at tive with almost anyone. the other positions. That vision Musso was selling two years Carroll is aligned in Class 5A’s ago is becoming a reality. ❖ Region 4, which includes Pleasant Grove,

2010 John Carroll Catholic High School Football Schedule

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 13

2010 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������



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Members of the 2010 Mountain Brook High School varsity football team include Harrison Smith, Edward Aldag, Will Deer, Walker Cox, Thomas Shows, John Beck, Sam Centano, John Cunningham, Mark Rector, John McCrary, Ross Hamilton, Harris Anthony, Coates Doss, Lewis Callaway, John Harris Britton, Jordan Donald, Gavin Golsan, Reagan Alexander, Hilyer Isbell, Josh Donnell, Allen Hoskins, Crawford Cox, Patrick Sullivan, Andrew Pickering, Davis Underwood, Owen Elliott, Alan Gambril, Coley Holtkamp, Mel Wilcox, Henry Waller, Zach Gillen, Miller Cooper, Brian Smith, Robert Eckert, Michael Resha, Joe Brown, Will Howell, Taylor Harsh, Henry Ballard, Will Sparks, Kenny Cobb, Clay Yeager, Matt Moore, Rhett Monroe, Chris Diethelm, Adam Trant, Drew Herndon, Jack Luckie, Aaron Shapiro, Zackary Weaver, Walker Byrd, John Marshall Morrissette, Eric Mussell, Matt Wiginton, James Harmon, Hunter Morrissette, Paul Davis, Michael Tortorici, Pat Lewis, Daniel Swecker, Talbot Richey, Dan Shelton, John Grady Welden, David Hutchins, Brennan Peck, John Moorer, Warren Handrahan, Ross Gray, Hatton Smith, Drake St. John, Win Cowden, Crosby Taylor, Jimbo Kent, Miller Sisson, Richmond Watson, Cannon Corey, Wade Bramlett, Hinton Bishop, Robert Fritze, Reeves Favrot, Will Kenan, William Thomas, Miller Williams, Matthew Gambril, Niketas Jackson, Bobby Cope, Blake Goldstein, Thomson Wooley, Jake O’Shields, Will Hamn, William Coons, Harrison Aslami, Adam Harvey, Connor Herfurth, Josh Lapidus, Quinton Kimbrough, Harrison Wright, Barrett Price, Douglas Nabors, Douglass Hubbard, Harry Reich, Will Sharp and Cody Vise.

Mtn. Brook

Mountain Brook Hopes for More Consistency in 2010

asking what are the goals for the season. If we just focus on doing things better, the wins and the goals will take care of themselves.” And the odds are that Mountain Brook will be improved—which it will have to be if the Spartans plan to be competitive in Class 6A’s rugged Region 6, almost certainly Alabama’s strongest football align-


Key Players to Watch

Spartan Rewind


ince taking over the head coaching position at Mountain Brook five years ago, Chris Yeager has kept the Spartans among the state’s most consistent Class 6A football programs. That’s why last season’s 4-6 record was such a disappointment to Mountain Brook players, coaches and fans alike. Yeager is direct when talking about his team’s issues in 2009. “We just weren’t consistent last year,” said the coach. “We just didn’t play Mountain Brook-type football. Too many times, we seemed to lose focus in key situations and couldn’t quite get the job done.” But even with that, things weren’t all that bad on Bethune Drive. The Spartans still had a shot at making the playoffs late in the season, so maybe Mountain Brook isn’t rebuilding as much as refocusing in 2010. “We want to work on doing everything better,” said Yeager. “People are always

ment. “I wouldn’t want us to be in any other region,” said Yeager. “It means much more to us to be in a region where every game has a playoff-like atmosphere. That’s better than being in some rag-tag region where even winning it doesn’t mean much.” Offensively, Mountain Brook looks solid in most key positions. Edward Aldag,

Standouts for Mountain Brook in 2010, with Coach Chris Yeager are, front, from left: Miller Williams and Adam Trant. Standing, from left: Michael Tortorici, Harris Anthony and John Beck.

who started the final two games of 2009, returns at quarterback. “Edward came on strong at the end of last year,” said Yeager. “We have plenty of confidence in him.” Senior John Beck is the Spartans’ top returning running back, and junior Mark Rector is solid. Aldag will have an outstanding corps of receivers as targets. Seniors John McCrary, Walker Cox and Thomas Shows, along with junior Gavin Golsan, all have excellent skills. Three veterans will lead the all-important offensive line, including seniors Adam Trant and Michael Tortorici and junior Walker Byrd. Ross Hamilton and Harris Anthony will both see extensive time at tight end. Warren Handrahan, a junior, will handle Mountain Brook’s placekicking assignments.

Quick Facts 2009 Record: 4-6 Head Coach: Chris Yeager Stadium: Spartan Stadium Region: Class 6A, Region 6 Region Opponents: Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Spain Park, Homewood, Oak Mountain, Pelham, Thompson. State Championships: 2 – 1975, 1976


Gillen defend against the run and pass with equal effectiveness. All except Gillen are upperclassmen. “I feel good about where we are,” said Date Opponent Location Yeager. “We’ve got some guys who have played Aug. 27 Shades Valley Home and know what we expect from them. Sept. 3 Vestavia Hills Away “As I said, the key is Sept. 10 Pelham Away consistency. We didn’t always have that last Sept. 16 Homewood Home year.” Yeager refused to set a Sept. 24 Grissom Home concrete goal for the new Oct. 1 Spain Park HC season. “The years we’ve done Oct. 7 Oak Mountain Away the best were the ones where we tried to focus Oct. 15 Thompson Home on the process of getting better,” said the coach, Oct. 22 Hoover Away sounding a little like Oct. 29 Buckhorn Away Alabama’s Nick Saban. “We want to get better every day, in every pracDEFENSE tice and every game. If we The Spartans’ defense has a chance to do that, winning will take care of itself.” be one of the best in the region. A player to Mountain Brook fans will find out watch is senior Miller Williams, who has quickly how far their team has come, as attracted the attention of college recruiters. the schedule is brutal. The Spartans host Williams will also play fullback in certain improving Shades Valley before visiting short yardage situations. archrival Vestavia Hills and Pelham on Other defenders to keep an eye on are consecutive Friday nights. Another home senior linebackers Mel Wilcox, Hatton date against Homewood begins a difficult Smith and John Moorer and tackle second half run that includes visits to Oak Harrison Wright. All are experienced and Mountain and state champion Hoover. understand what it takes to be successful in Yeager said his team won’t be intimiRegion 6. dated by the tough run ahead. As usual, Mountain Brook will have “It’s fun,” he said. “Every week we’re an outstanding secondary. Walker Cox, See Mountain Brook, page 22 Andrew Pickering, Crawford Cox and Zach

2010 Mountain Brook High School Football Schedule

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 15


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Members of the 2010 Oak Mountain High School varsity football team include: Austin Abernathy, Matthew Allers, Noah Barcroft, Steven Beard, James Beauchaine, Cameron Bice, Bradley Bostick, Shawn Clarke, Michael Cole, Alex Corley, Billy Dasher, Al Davis, Grant Davis, Rico Dunn, Brady Faulkner, Jesse France, Tony Fusco, Barrett Gossett, Jacob Guillory, Harman Guraya, Bowen Gurkin, Scott Hester, Sam Hix, Hunt Hobbs, Heath Holbert, Michael Jointer, Chris Jones, Bryant Kelley, Jake Kelley, Nick Kidd, Vincent Kimbrough, E.J. Langan, Gunnar Lantrip, Grant Layton, Hayden Long, Will Maddox, Mitch Mathias, Tommy McGowan, Jordan McLain, Jake Miller, John Michael Miller, Dylan Minor, Austin Moro, Trey Page, Justin Paulus, Dejuan Phillips, Jordan Pierce, Matt Pressley, Heath Quinn, Jakaryus Redwine, Grant Reese, Hayden Reese, Christopher Richmond, Taylor Rinks, Angel Sanchez, Jonathan Schmohl, Will Schweer, Josh Self, Jackson Smart, Marquell Smith, Tyler Sockwell, Zach Stephenson, Austen Swinsick, Jonathan Taylor, Lloyd Time, Chase Tourney, Alex Tucker, Avery Wambles, Evan Webb, Andy Whitcomb, Adrian Williams, Cory Wilson and Luke Wise.

Oak Mountain

Option Plays

Despite Inexperience, Eagles Hope to Soar BY CARY ESTES



espite a final 4-6 record, Oak Mountain was oh so close to making the playoffs last season. All the Eagles had to do was hang onto a 12-point lead against a Thompson team that was on a nine-game losing streak, and they would have grabbed the fourth and final playoff spot out of Class 6A Region 6. Instead, Thompson scored three unanswered touchdowns – two in the fourth quarter – and the Eagles missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. “That was a big disappointment,” Oak Mountain head coach Jeff Harris said. “We were very, very close to possibly having a special year. “That has worked out to be the motivator that has pushed us through this off-season.” The problem is, it might take a lot more than just motivation to get the Eagles to the playoffs this season. That’s because Oak Mountain faces a mountain of obstacles, with only one returning starter on defense and no returning starters on the offensive line. The starting lineup is filled with sophomores and juniors, including many who have never played in a varsity game. And while the Eagles will have a senior quarterback, it’s not the player they expected to have at the position. Last year’s starter, Paul Angel, tore his ACL during baseball practice earlier this year and is out for the season. He has been replaced by senior wide receiver Trey Page, who has played a backup role at quarterback on occasion but has

never been a starter. “You don’t want to go through the season with a 15-year-old sophomore quarterback like we did last year, but everybody would love to have a junior with one year under his belt, which is what we thought we were going to have this year,” Harris said. “We were very optimistic about what we were going to be able to do offensively after going through those growing pains with Paul. “You invest in that kid, and you really go through the growing up process with him, and now he’s going to be out. That was obviously a disappointing blow to our team.” To accommodate Page as he changes positions, Harris said the Eagles are altering their spread-formation offense to include option plays that will give Page the opportunity to run the ball more often. “Basically, we shifted gears early in the summer and started moving more towards

a spread-option team,” Harris said. “We’re still going to be in the gun. We’re still in the spread formation. “But Trey is going to allow us to do some things a little bit differently than what Paul brought to the table. Paul was more of a pocket-passing quarterback. Trey is going to bring some athleticism there that I think will be tough to defend. “So we’re going to run some options and some sprint-out passing, which will give him the option of running or throwing it. He throws the ball on the run real well.” Look for several of those option plays to include junior tailback Bradley Bostick, a 5-6, 150-pound spitfire who has been clocked at 4.3 in the 40-yard dash. “He brings tremendous speed back there,” Harris said. “Because of Trey’s running threat and the fact we have a fast running back beside him, we feel like we’re going to be very effective in our playaction passing game.”

Key Players to Watch

When the Eagles do take to the air, the primary target will be senior Rico Dunn, who is the son of former University of Alabama All-American Eric Curry. “We expect big things out of him on both sides of the ball,” Harris said of Dunn, who will also play in the defensive secondary. “He has great genes, and he’s being actively recruited by a lot of colleges.”

DEFENSE Lining up on the opposite side of the field will be junior Jakaryus Redwine, who, like Dunn, will play both wide receiver and defensive back. Redwine runs a 4.4 in the 40, while Dunn has been timed at 4.5. “We feel like we have some pretty good speed on the perimeter with those two guys,” Harris said.” Other wideouts expected to receive playing time this season include junior Jordan Pierce, sophomore Scott Hester and senior Grant Davis. The offensive line will be led by senior captain Brady Faulkner, who is moving to center after playing on the defensive front last season. “He’s done an outstanding job and will be our leader on the line,” Harris said. “The rest of the line is wide open. He’s the only definite in there. The rest is day-today competition.” On defense, the lone returning starter is middle linebacker Andy Whitcomb, a 6-1, 200-pound senior who was second on the team in tackles last season. “He’s a good one to get back,” Harris said. “He’ll provide solid leadership for us

Quick Facts

Oak Mountain leaders, with Coach Jeff Harris, are, from left: Rico Dunn, Andy Wicomb Brady Faulkner and Trey Page.

2009 Record: 4-6 Head Coach: Jeff Harris Stadium: Heardmont Park Region: Class 6A Region 6 Region Opponents: Homewood, Hoover, Mountain Brook, Pelham, Spain Park, Thompson, Vestavia Hills


THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 17


of tackle Austin Moro. Despite being only a sophomore, Moro is 6-3 and weighs 240, and he’s already a 300-pound bench presser. “We’re really excited Date Opponent Location about him,” Harris said. “He’s strong and he runs Aug. 27 Buckhorn Home very well. If he progresses like he should, he’ll be an Sept. 3 Pelham Away SEC-caliber player one Sept. 10 Hoover Home day.” The rest of the starting Sept. 16 Spain Park Away defensive line will consist of seniors Tony Fusco and Sept. 24 Northridge Home Hayden Long and sophoOct. 1 Thompson Away more Lloyd Time, who “has the potential to be a Oct. 8 Mountain Brook Away big-time Division I prospect,” said Harris. Oct. 15 Homewood Home Joining Redwine as one of the starting cornerbacks Oct. 22 Vestavia Hills Away is senior Bryant Kelley, Oct. 29 Pinson Valley Home who, Harris said, “is another solid leader who will be very dependable and do a good job.” there, and he should be playing somewhere Junior Cameron Bice (in college) next year.” and sophomore Barrett Gossett are expectAl Davis will be a first-year starter ed to start at the safety positions. at linebacker, but Harris said the senior “We have a small senior class,” Harris already has established himself as one of said. “We have good leadership in that the team’s key leaders. group, but it’s not really big in numbers. So “He does everything you ask him to we’re going to be a young team. do to the best of his ability, and he pretty “But they are good players, and what much demands that out of his teammates,” they lack in experience, they’ve made Harris said. “He’s a great leader for us and up for it by working very hard. They’ve puts on very positive peer pressure when earned the opportunity to be out there. needed.” “It will definitely pay dividends down On the defensive line, Harris said he the road for us.” ❖ is particularly excited about the potential

2010 Oak Mountain High School Football Schedule

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A Golden Night for Ball of Roses

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their beautiful gowns at the Country Club of Birmingham. Nearly 70 young women dressed in The Ballet Guild of Birmingham recently presented the 50th Ball of Roses Brooke and Rita Cecil the ball were, from left: William W. Brooke with daughter Sarah Margaret with long, white gloves were presented this year. Among those attending Sander Wright with father Andrew Wright III. See Social, page 10.

is always a special time, and even The Fourth Annual Funky Monkey Silent Auction is set Graduation your father who is graduating for June 24. The event at the B&A Warehouse will benefit more so when it’s from your alma mater. See Life, page 8. Camp Smile-A-Mile. See About Town, page 5.

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Looking for a different way to celebrate the big day? Check out some of the unique wedding venues the area has to offer. See Weddings & Engagements, page 18.

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18 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010

Spain Park



Jaguar Adjustments: Offense Starts Fresh, Defense Still Strong BY CARY ESTES



he Spain Park Jaguars have plenty of pleasant memories of the 2009 season. It was the second-best campaign in the program’s eight-year history, with a 10-3 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of the Class 6A playoffs. On offense, the Jags averaged nearly 30 points per game and topped the 40-point mark three times. Memories of that offense are all Spain Park will have this year, because it is gone. At least, the scoring part of it is. In what has to be one of the most amazing statistics of the high school preseason, the Jaguars have absolutely no players on their roster who scored a touchdown last season. None. “That’s a pretty daunting stat,” Spain Park head coach David Shores said with a nervous chuckle. “Last year we had five senior receivers, three senior running backs and a senior quarterback. So basically we lost our entire skill set on offense. “It will be a challenge. We’re trying to adapt our philosophy and our schemes to the players who we have this year. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that so far. “But the only thing that will really tell us is when we line up and play and see how these young kids respond and see exactly what we have in a game situation.” The tall task facing the Jaguars on offense is most glaringly obvious at wide receiver, where senior Zak Michael is the only returning player who even took a snap in a varsity game last season. Michael averaged more than 20 yards per catch in his limited playing time, which by default makes him Spain Park’s big-play receiver this year. “When he was on the field last year, he made his presence known,” Shores said. “But he didn’t get a lot of reps because we had so many seniors in front of him. “He’s a guy we’ll depend on for bigplay capabilities in the open field. After that, it will be interesting.” Depth at wide receiver might not matter, because there is a chance the Jaguars won’t be throwing the ball that much. Shores said new starting quarterback Reed Reinagel is still bothered by injuries he suffered to his throwing arm as a freshman playing lacrosse and as a sophomore in a junior varsity football game. “Throwing the ball can be painful for him. He has issues with it sometimes,” Shores said. “But he is a dynamic player running the ball. He’s as good as any running back we have. “Hopefully we can force some people into situations where they are trying to stop the run, and we open up some throwing capabilities.” The Jags’ rushing ability hinges heavily on the offensive line, and that is the one area of the offense where Spain Park has some experienced returning players. Shores said the anchor of the offensive line is senior left tackle Lance Feagin, who moved from the defensive front last season and excelled at his new position.

Members of the 2010 Spain Park High School varsity football team include: Sean Mardis, Cade Hoffman, Zak Michael, Kegan Gaither, Justin Carter, Kevron McMillan, Drake Grisham, Jamel Cook, Nick Mullens, Alex Roberson, Will McDonald, Reid Reinagel, Ben Olinger, Payton Gray, Hunter Kahn, Brandon Nolan, Jake Hoffman, Destin Challenger, Mason Durden, Jalon Hollie, Marquis McCullum, Ashton Daniel, Kymari Johnson, John Mwaituka, Alando McDonald, Chris Humes, Cole Campbell, Devon Brown, Jacob Wolkow, Steven Silvio, Wesley Barrentine, Ben Holcomb, Thomas Rush, Zac Newton, Charleston Watkins, Jake Payne, Keylan King, Patrick Scott, Grant Stoverink, Hank King, Daniel Sanders, Qua Thompson, Kevin Wozniak, Zach Soto, Taylor Kelley, Jeniah Jackson, Jordan Brook, Bryant Williams, David Sanders, Ben Tamburello, Alex Payne, Justin Kane, Madden Saverse, John Pizzatola, J.T. Haywood, Lance Feagin, Joseph Defalco, Ryan Fox, Austin Harris, Bryant Novick, Martin Canales, Alex Dickson, Robert Bagwell, Chris Robinson, Trevor Nelson, Kameron Herron, Jacob Heitz, Chandler Moore, Jamie Andrews, Thomas Outzen, Scout Johnson, Conner Whatley, Cass Holley, Blake Dudchok, Andrew Philpott, Brandon Bilek, Dustin Cowart, Moe Mills, Kameron Ricks, Ryan Akers, Jacob Chaffin, Emanuel Cooper, Devonte Moyer and Matthew Taylor. “We didn’t know how good he would be, but he did a phenomenal job,” Shores said. “He’s a little undersized, but he’s a fighter and does a great job with technique.” Joining Shores along the line will be senior right guard Taylor Kelly (a two-year starter), senior center Ryan Fox, junior right tackle Bagwell and junior left guard Ben Tamburello, son of the former Auburn

star. “Our O-line was sort of what we hung our hat on last year, the physicality that we had running the ball and play-action stuff,” Shores said. “I think this group has every opportunity to be as good as last year’s line if they’re able to stay healthy. That’s going to be the real tell-all for us.” Shores said at least four tailbacks will be running behind that line. The group

Key Players to Watch

includes juniors Ashton Daniel, Alex Roberson and Thompson transfer John Mwaituka, as well as sophomore Kevron McMillan, who’s “going to be a fantastic player,” said the coach. The starting fullback will be senior Steven Silvio, who Shores said has been “one of our biggest surprises, with what he’s done to become a good athlete and a leader.” His backup will be Jacob Wolkow, whose father, Troy, played for the New England Patriots in the late 1980s. “I feel very confident in the abilities of our running backs,” Shores said. “Our rushing attack should be fairly potent if our offensive line can stay healthy. We feel like we can have some success moving the chains and running the clock.” DEFENSE The outlook is not quite as uncertain on the defensive side of the ball, where the Jags return several starters from a unit that pitched consecutive shutouts in the first

Quick Facts

Jaguar leaders, with Coach David Shores, are, from left: Alex Payne, Steven Silvio, Taylor Kelly, Chris Humes and Zak Michael.

2009 Record: 10-3 Head Coach: David Shores Stadium: Spain Park Stadium at Bob Finley Field Region: Class 6A Region 6 Region Opponents: Homewood, Pelham, Thompson, Mountain Brook, Hoover, Vestavia Hills,Oak Mountain.


THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 19


a sophomore, and senior Jamel Cook, a transfer from Homewood. “There’s a lot of talent back there, guys who have the ability to run and cover people, which Date Opponent Location we’ve never really had here,” Shores said. “I’m Aug. 28 No. Gwinnett (Ga.) Away very happy about our secSept. 3 Hoover Away ondary.” At linebacker, senior Sept. 10 Homewood Away Alex Payne begins his third season as a starter Sept. 16 Oak Mountain Home and is on track to finish with more than 400 career Sept. 24 Bob Jones HC tackles. He will be joined Oct. 1 Mountain Brook Away in the starting lineup by Homewood transfer Oct. 8 Vestavia Hills Home Destin Challenger and possibly senior Keylan Oct. 15 Pelham Home King, though King has Oct. 22 Thompson Away been bothered with a shoulder injury. Oct. 29 Clay-Chalkville Away If King can’t start, Shores said the nod might go to sophomore Jeniah Jackson, brother of two rounds of the playoffs. Arkansas freshman Jeremiah Jackson. The defense is led by junior cornerback There also is plenty of talent on the Chris Humes, who already has received a defensive line, with two Division I recruits scholarship offer from Auburn. Humes has in seniors Emmanuel Cooper and Ryan been timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard Akers. But Shores said the star of the dash and has a 38-inch vertical leap. defensive front might prove to be Jacob “He is of the most phenomenal athletes Chaffin, a 6-3, 240-pound sophomore. I’ve coached, just in terms of natural abil“He may go down as the best lineman ity, and I’ve had some pretty good ones,” who has come through here,” Shores said. Shores said. “On the other side, junior “I’m making an early prediction. Devon Brown has great ball skills. So I “He’s a special player. He has a lot of feel very good about our corners.” ability, and I think he’ll only get better The starting safeties will be junior over time.” ❖ Justin Carter, who started every game as


2010 Spain Park High School Football Schedule

now available at

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Members of the 2010 Vestavia Hills High School varsity football team are: D.L. Biddings, Ben Brown, Jack Yancey, Alex Vogt, Wil Hutson, Neil Gannaway, Austin Ward, Marcus Ward, Josh Ellington, Corbin Potter, Spencer Towns, Patrick Visintainer, Cameron Little, Ryan Raspino, Jordan Howard, Henry Davis, Jack Cole, Patrick Prewitt, Paden Crowder, Jahaad Jackson, Kevin Shannon, Georgie Salem, Schaefer Amos, John Castleberry, John Michael Fine, Jack Turner, Oscar Harper, Daniel Kines, Jonathan Kuhn, Hunter Sexton, Jimmy Laughlin, Stuart Jacobs, Drew Grindle, Alex Perez, Jack Nelson, Grant Benson, Jered Wolski, Chris Edwards, Elliot Martin, Josh Brown, Maricuz Harper, Matt Stopak, Brody Williamson, Steven Brown, Walker Gann, Thomas Woods, Winn Gathings, Matthew Crane, Evan Ryland, David D’Amico, Hunter Haynes, Justin Ivory, Ben Thomas, Chris Smith, Kyle Parrish, Alex Harrelson, Anderson Barnett, Alex Torbert, Charlie Vines, Hopson Nance, Carter Brown, Jacob Brown, Bailey Cadden, Jeffery Milner, Wil Brantley, Max Norris, Chris Byars, Keaton Lett, Trevor Jones, Zach Malone, Seth Dyess, Walker Hays, Robert Thomas, Chris Bruno, Drew Holmes, Patrick Moriarty, Carson Tortorice, Frank Roberts, Jake Long, Jose Casanova, Gabe Adkins, Raener Ayes-Fleming, Jimmy Witt, Andrew McCrory, Cole Adams, Parker Blaylock, Joseph Harrison, Wynston Gully, Kalvin Robinson, Wade Lowry, Matt Duren, Austin Duke, Sumner Hackney, Julious Griffin, Alex Gathings, Tim Robin, Will Looney, Colin Harper, Ben Packard and Garrett Murphy.


Thirty-Nine and Holding

Ageless Anderson Looks For Big Season For Rebels



uddy Anderson uses an old Hollywood joke from the 1950s to describe his nearly four decades at Vestavia Hills High School. “This is my 33rd year as head coach and 39th year overall,” said Anderson. “Maybe I’m stuck on 39, just like Jack Benny.” The joke is funny, but the Rebels’ opponents have found Anderson’s tenure at Vestavia to be considerably less than amusing. He has guided his team to two state championships, a slew of region titles and is moving inexorably toward the 300 career victory mark. Last year’s Rebel team posted a 9-2 record, highlighted by an upset of eventual Class 6A champion Hoover. Multiple stars from that unit have picked up their diplomas, but Anderson remains optimistic about the season ahead. “No question we lost some great players from last year,” said Anderson. “But our kids are working very hard. The goal is to try to get one percent better every day.” Offensively, Vestavia will utilize its traditional I formation, but two key components from last year – quarterback Ryan Howard and running back Michael Brown

– are among the graduated stars. Senior Patrick Prewitt will step in as the new signal-caller, and so far Anderson likes what he sees. “Patrick’s getting better at both running and passing every day,” said the coach. “He spent two years playing in the secondary, so that has helped him understand defenses.” Prewitt is no slouch in the classroom either, as he holds a 4.0-plus grade point average. Prewitt’s backup is another senior, Henry Davis, who also has his coach’s confidence. Davis will see a lot of playing time in the defensive backfield.

Having quality at the tailback position is a long-time Rebel trademark. The heir apparent to Brown’s old spot is junior Georgie Salem, an outstanding runner, blocker and pass receiver. “Georgie always comes to practice ready to work hard and with a great attitude,” said Anderson. “He’s getting better all the time.” Junior Jack Yancey and sophomore Stuart Jacobs are also working at tailback. Evan Ryland, a senior, is the frontrunner at fullback. Daniel Kines and Walker Gann will also see playing time. Vestavia’s receiving corps should be outstanding. Maricruz Harper returns for

Key Players to Watch

his senior season as one of Alabama’s best. Neal Gannaway and Jordan Howard also saw extensive playing time last season. Austin Ward, Will Hutson and Schaefer Amos will add important depth. Senior Wade Lowry is a returning starter at tight end. Also in the mix are Julious Griffin, Alex Perez, Raener Ayers-Fleming and Brody Williamson. The Rebels’ offensive line could be one of the best in their region. Alex Harrellson is the starter at center, with support from Carter Brown. Vying for positions at guard are Jacob Brown, a converted defensive tackle, along with Patrick Moriarty, Frank Roberts, Kyle Parrish, and Charlie Vines. Senior Justin Ivory, a strong candidate for all-state honors, returns at one tackle. Senior Seth Dyess might get the other spot; also in contention are Robert Thomas, Drew Holmes, Charlie Vines, Chris Byars and Hunter Haynes. Ryan Raspino will handle placekicking chores for the Rebels.

DEFENSE Vestavia had one of the best defenses in Metro Birmingham a year ago, and this one might be just as good. Jeffery Milner, along with David D’Amico and Maricruz Harper,

Quick Facts

Key Rebel players, with Coach Buddy Anderson are, from left: Elliot Martin, Jacob Brown, Wade Lowry, Jose Casanova, and Patrick Prewitt.

2009 Record: 9-2 Head Coach: Buddy Anderson Stadium: Buddy Anderson Field at Thompson Reynolds Stadium Region: Class 6A, Region 6 Region opponents: Homewood, Hoover, Mountain Brook, Oak Mountain, Pelham, Spain Park, Thompson. State Championships: 2 - 1980, 1998



—the son of a former Vestavia star—along with John Castleberry, John Michael Fine and Brody Williamson. The secondary should be strong. D.L. Biddings Date Opponent Location and Jack Turner are returning seniors at Aug. 27 Florence Away cornerback, and junior Cobin Potter will see time Sept. 3 Mountain Brook Home at both cornerback and Sept. 10 Thompson Home safety. Potter comes by his talents naturally; he’s Sept. 17 Pelham Away the grandson of former All-American quarterback Sept. 24 Briarwood HC Jimmy Sidle of Auburn Oct. 1 Homewood Home University. Jonathan Kuhn, Oct. 8. Spain Park Away Marcus Ward and Jack Nelson also will play key Oct. 15 Hoover Away roles. Oct. 22 Oak Mountain Home The safeties are Jimmy Laughlin and Henry Oct. 28 Shades Valley Away Davis along with Kevin Shannon, Hunter Sexton and Potter. Georgie Salem might even see some all return at defensive end. Wynston Gully, playing time in the secondary. Jahaad Jackson, and Kalvin Robinson are Raspino or Jack Turner will be the also very much in the picture. punter. Jose Casanova and Jacob Brown are two “We’ve got some good speed and quicksenior stalwarts at tackle. Walker Hayes, ness on our defense,” said Anderson. “It’s Gabe Adkins, Carson Tortorici, Chris just a matter of coming together – and we Bruno and Trevor Jones will provide valucan’t afford to have any injuries.” able depth. Vestavia will compete in Class 6A’s As usual, the Rebel linebacker corps Region 6, along with Homewood, Hoover, should be outstanding. The starters are Mountain Brook, Oak Mountain, Pelham, likely to be seniors Paden Crowder and Spain Park and Thompson. The date to Elliot Martin and junior Keaton Lett. See Vestavia, page 22 Rotating in could be Patrick Visintainer

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 21

2010 Vestavia Hills High School Football Schedule

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22 • THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010



from page 11

Vestavia from page 21

checks and reads that we need in the secondary,” Niblett said. “He’s a real smart player. He understands the concept of what we’re doing on defense.” Will it all add up to a championship

circle on your calendar could be Oct. 15, when the Rebels travel to face archrival Hoover. The Rebels don’t get relief in their non-region schedule either, as they face Florence, Class 5A power Briarwood and Shades Valley. “Blame our schedule on the athletic director,” Anderson said, laughing. “That’s me.” Last season ended on a disappointing note, as Vestavia lost in the first round of the playoffs when Minor pulled a stunning 21-0 upset. But Anderson has been around long enough to know that you can’t look back. “This is a different team and a different year,” he said. “Every team has its own heartbeat.” Teams may change, but Anderson has been the constant at Vestavia. Two of his present assistants, Peter Braasch and Bruce Evans, were on his original staff in 1978. But with nearly 40 years at one school under his belt, Anderson isn’t close to hanging up his whistle. “God called me to be coach,” he said. “This isn’t a job, it’s a calling.” And that’s no Jack Benny joke. ❖

“We’re not defending anything or repeating anything. It’s a new year. This is a different group.” —Josh Niblett

repeat for the Bucs? Possibly, but Niblett insists that is something the team simply is not discussing. “There are two things we don’t talk about: winning and yesterday,” Niblett said. “Both those things are real easy to talk about all the time, and then you get too keyed up. “We want our kids to just worry about making good decisions and being good men, and let everything else take care of itself.” ❖


Mountain Brook,

from page 9

“And that’s basically it. The rest of them are going to be a lot of new faces. There are some guys who spot-played for us last year. But defensively, those three are pretty much our main core.” Because of the lack of experience on defense, Wright said the Patriots have moved senior Chris O’Neal and junior Aaron Rowell from offense over to the linebacker position. Joining Martin in the secondary will be a trio of juniors: John Hudson, Warner Thompson and Quindarius Jones. The Patriots return their two starting kickers from last season in senior placekicker Trey Holman and senior punter Burton Nabors. “It’s a big plus having both those guys back,” Wright said. “Trey Holman has a chance to have a great, great season. He had a tremendous off-season. He did well in several kicking camps.” Wright said avoiding injuries will once again be important for the team, especially since the Patriots lack experience and depth at several positions. But if the primary players can remain healthy, Wright said he is encouraged about the possibilities for Homewood this season. “The thing I’ve really been pleased with so far has been our consistency,” said the coach. “Practice has been a lot better this year, and hopefully that will carry over into the games. “We just have to make sure we don’t get injuries in key spots. That’s our biggest concern. We don’t have a whole lot of depth in certain areas. If we get some key people hurt, we have problems. “If we can stay healthy, start off the season well and remain consistent, then we can hopefully have a good year.” ❖


from page 15

facing quality coaches, quality players and quality teams. “I think the best football in the state is played right here in Metro Birmingham generally, and over the mountain in particular. If we can’t be excited about this

The Hoover Bucs once again begin the season as the team to beat, both in their region and statewide. Coach Josh Niblett won the state championship in the second year of his tenure, after finishing runner-up the previous season. Ryan Carter returns for his senior season as the Bucs’ quarterback and is likely to be better than ever.

“I wouldn’t want us to be in any other region. It means much more to us to be in a region where every game has a playoff-like atmosphere.”

—Chris Yeager

schedule, then we probably should be doing something else.” A strong beginning to the season might get Mountain Brook even more excited. Victories for the Spartans in two of the first three games would give them plenty of confidence going into their Sept. 16 match with Homewood. A win in that slot might put Mountain Brook in prime position for a playoff spot. “I’m sensing a lot of positives,” said Yeager. “I’m encouraged that we’re going to be playing Mountain Brook’s style of football once again.” If that’s the case, Spartan fans can be making their plans for playoffs in November. ❖



THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010 • 23

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Over the Mountain Journal High School Football Preview  

An overview of high school football in the Over the Mountain Communities for 2010

Over the Mountain Journal High School Football Preview  

An overview of high school football in the Over the Mountain Communities for 2010