News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

5 area prep football teams
begin season ranked

Defending Class 5A
champion Athens in 8th spot

By Brooke Milam 340-2460

Defending state champions top five of the six classifications as the Alabama Sports Writers Association releases its preseason football rankings Wednesday.

The one left out?

Athens High, which won the Class 5A state championship last season while posting a 12-3 record. The Golden Eagles are ranked eighth in 5A.

"There was no question with the losses we had to graduation last year — eight starters on offense and eight on defense — that we'd have to earn our spot back this year," Athens coach Allen Creasy said Tuesday when he told of his team's preseason standing.

"We'll try to use it as motivation."

Prattville is ranked No. 1 in 6A, while Guntersville is first in 4A, Pike County in 3A, Leroy in 2A and Sweet Water in 1A.

Five teams from The Daily's coverage area of Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties, plus Addison, landed in the polls, and five others received votes. In addition to Athens, East Limestone is ranked No. 7 in 4A. In 2A, Addison is No. 4, and Tanner is No. 7. Hazlewood begins the season ranked No. 6 in 1A.

Also receiving votes were Hartselle in 5A, Ardmore in 4A, West Morgan in 2A and R.A. Hubbard and Speake in 1A.

East Limestone coach Jeff Pugh said traditional powers are the programs that appear in the preseason polls and that the honor of being ranked brings high expectations.

After losing to eventual state champion Guntersville in the 4A quarterfinals last season, Pugh's East Limestone squad, which returns 20 seniors, hopes to prove itself early.

It will host Athens to kick off the season.

"We didn't play well against (Guntersville), and I hope we've gained some ground from what we showed last year in that final game," Pugh said.

"There's only one poll that matters and that's the last one, but I'm glad people think we have enough coming back to deserve to be ranked. You still have to take care of business on Friday and Saturday nights, and I just hope we can do that and be ranked in that final poll of the year."

Prattville, the only team in the AHSAA last season to go undefeated, has been pegged to repeat as 6A state football champs in 2007.

Coach Bill Clark's Lions were the most dominant vote-getter, gathering 21 of the 26 first-place votes cast by the committee of sports writers. Perennial power Hoover (13-2 last year) is No. 2 in 6A with 234 overall points and four first-place votes.

Practice officially begins Monday with the season getting under way Aug. 30.

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