News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Class 1A-3A leaders

Heath Grimes, Blake Turner

Speake coach says he knew
this year's team would succeed

By Brooke Milam 340-2460

Speake High put together a dream football season this year.

The Bobcats finished 9-3, shared the Class 1A, Region 8 championship and advanced to the second round of the Class 1A playoffs for only the second time in school history.

And Speake head coach Heath Grimes said that the wins were nice, but it wasn't until the season was over that he saw all the benefits of the Bobcats' success this year.

His players presented him with a plaque at the season-ending banquet, thanking him for teaching them about hard work.

"That said it all," Grimes said. "That's what I want them to take from all this — that hard-work mentality and seeing the benefits from it. Knowing that they've taken something like that from this season, that's probably the most satisfying feeling I could have in my career."

For guiding the Bobcats to rare heights this season, The Daily is honoring Grimes today as its Class 1A-3A coach of the year.

"Our success this year definitely helped people to see that we're changing things around here," Grimes said. "We felt like we were just a step away from being one of the teams in Birmingham this season."

Speake hosted a first-round playoff game this year for the first time since 1977 and made it to the second round of the state playoffs for the first time since 1996.

"My expectations are really high in everything," Grimes said. "I just think that if you set your standards high, then even if you don't meet all your goals you've gotten a long way.

"I don't say this much, but we may have even exceeded what I expected for us this year."

The Bobcats went 4-6 in 2005 and 1-9 in 2004, but Grimes said that from the beginning of the season he saw something different.

"The attitude of our kids was totally transformed this year, and yes, I do think we're going to see some lasting effects from that," Grimes
said. "Tapping into the potential that we have around here — this season has definitely been a big step in that direction."

As a result of this year's success, Grimes expects to have eight returning seniors on his squad next year — the biggest senior class in his four years as Speake's head coach.

Grimes said it was a group effort and his expanded staff this season, which included veteran coach Rory Carpenter, Brett Voss and Davy Kincaid, provided the extra edge that the Bobcats needed.

"I had some really great people around me. My coaching staff has some really great experience and they make it easy," Grimes said. "When you have good quality guys like them, it's easy for me to see that they've been the difference."

After serving notice this season, Speake expects to be a team to watch for next year as well. And Grimes said that seeing his players realize their potential through hard work this year was all the reward he needs.

"We had the ability to do it, but it was a matter of proving ourselves," Grimes said. "To do what we did was really special."

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