HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL OUTLOOKS
The Daily analyzes the local Class 3A and 2A teams. The Class 6A, 5A and 4A teams were featured Monday. The Class 1A teams will be featured Wednesday.
Head coach: Barry Daniel (5-5 in one season at Clements, 7-13 in two seasons as a head coach).
2006 record: 4-7. Made it to the first round of the state playoffs.
Win totals from 2002-2006: 2-1-2-5-4.
Whom to watch in 2007: All-state linebacker Brad Smith returns for his senior season to help pace the Colts’ defense. Along with Smith, Clements returns seven starters from last season. Chad Billiter, Kyle Taylor, Michael Moss, Seth Bachelor and Jacob Eaton will make up the rest of the Colts’ defense.
What to watch: Clements has 11 seniors to help make up for the loss of several key players from last year to graduation. The Colts have inexperience at several spots on offense, but the defense could help make up the difference.
When to watch: Clements opens at home against Tanner on Thursday in a game that is big to both teams. The following week, the Colts travel to Elkmont for an important Region 8 game.
Why to watch: Clements finished third in Region 8 last year, earning its first playoff bid in 15 years. It should be interesting to see what the Colts do as a follow-up.
Daily Sports Writer
Head coach: Joey Burch (20-31 in five years at Danville).
2006 record: 2-8. Did not make the state playoffs
Win totals from 2002-2006: 0-5-9-4-2.
Whom to watch in 2007: Seniors Judd James and Jose Gardner return as strong players on both sides of the ball. Junior Corey Tyson is expected to be a key player as well. Sophomore running back Levi George has the skills to make big plays for the Hawks this season, while sophomore quarterback Tyler Beck is a new varsity starter at his position.
What to watch: Look for the Hawks to be mostly a ground-oriented offense this season. Burch said that after winning the last two games of the season last year and a good spring, the Hawks found out that their ground attack works well and don’t plan on changing anything.
When to watch: Falkville will visit Danville in a matchup of Morgan County rivals for the first game of the season Thursday. The Hawks also play county rivals Priceville (Sept. 28) and Speake (Nov. 1), so even though those contests won’t affect the region standings, they’re important nonetheless.
Why to watch: The Hawks appear young again this year, but that doesn’t seem to bother Burch. Although Danville isn’t overloaded with upperclassmen, plenty of returnees played last year, and Burch feels the experience from last season will help in key games.
Daily Sports Writer
Head coach: Don Jacobs (first year as head coach).
2006 record: 3-7. Did not make state playoffs.
Win totals for 2002-06: 3-1-1-6-3.
Whom to watch in 2007: Wide receiver Joe Dowd is the only senior on Elkmont’s roster. The Red Devils will be led by a large group of juniors, including receiver Lee Patterson and quarterback Jonathan Carter. But going into his last season, it will be interesting to see how Dowd exerts himself as the oldest member on the squad.
What to watch: When Jacobs became the Red Devils’ coach, he didn’t just tweak the offensive system — he overhauled it. Gone is the run-based wing-T attack favored by former coach Chad McGhee. Jacobs plans to use the West Coast offense, which features the pass. How the Red Devils adapt to such a large philosophical shift will determine how successful they will be this season.
When to watch: Elkmont gets another crack at Tanner on Nov. 2. Last season, the Red Devils lost 20-10 to a Rattlers team that finished the season 10-2. It could have been a signature win in a season that saw Elkmont finish one game out of the state playoffs.
Why to watch: The inexperience of the Red Devils will be a story line all year long. How can Jacobs, a former quarterback at Alabama, mold the team and make them believe that they can get to the playoffs? Players say they like his experience and his knowledge of the game.
Daily Sports Writer
Head coach: David Arnsparger (first year as head coach).
2006 record: 1-9. Did not make state playoffs.
Win totals for 2002-06: 1-2-2-1-1.
Whom to watch in 2007: Arnsparger has a reputation as a good offensive coach, and most of his returning talent specialize on that side of the ball. Ross Leonard is just a 10th-grader, but he has shown skill as a tight end and a linebacker. Senior quarterback Tommy Reyer is back for his final season to throw to junior wide receiver Jeremy White. Also back to help is senior running back Chris Wilbanks.
What to watch: Arnsparger has a lot of experience. The son of former New York Giants and LSU head coach and Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger, he has lived and breathed football since he was born. It will be interesting to see how his experience benefits the West Limestone program, which has struggled to win in recent year.
When to watch: Two of West Limestone’s first three region games are on the road — at Colbert County (Sept. 7) and Elkmont (Sept. 21). For a team with four wins over the past three seasons, getting off to a good start will be paramount to its success.
Why to watch: With a new coach, the Wildcats are looking to change the struggles of recent seasons. The Wildcats haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, but are hoping that Arnsparger can infuse some life into the team. Judging by the enthusiastic comments by the players, that could be the case.
Daily Sports Writer
Head coach: Randy White (24-3 in two seasons at Addison).
2006 record: 10-2. Lost in second round of state playoffs.
Win totals from 2002-06: 8-11-9-14-10
Whom to watch in 2007: Running back Andrew Privett switches from wide receiver to tailback as part of Addison’s run-oriented offense. Privett will run behind an experienced offensive line, led by returning blockers Jesse Wiggins, Kody Dickerson and Kyle Woodard. While there will be an adjustment, the Bulldogs place plenty of emphasis on the running game, which ultimately will decide whether Addison can win another state championship.
What to watch: At the end of last year, White underwent quadruple bypass surgery. How White will respond this year will be Addison’s main storyline.
When to watch: Addison fell to West Morgan 26-7 last year, its only loss of the regular season. The Bulldogs will look for a little revenge when the two teams hook up Oct. 26.
Why to watch: Addison was a compelling story when it won the 1A state championship in 2005. This year’s seniors are some of the last tangible link to that group, and it should be interesting to see whether they can duplicate that success.
Daily Sports Writer
Head coach: Neil Estes (9-13 in two seasons as head coach at Falkville).
2006 record: 5-6. Lost in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs to Addison 28-15.
Win totals from 2002-2006: 1-3-0-4-5.
Whom to watch in 2007: Junior Jonathan McNatt is back at quarterback for his third season on the job and offers stability to the Blue Devils’ offense that should be a positive. In fact, Falkville returns all of its backs and its leading receiver from a year ago, senior Steven Lindsey. Shane Ellis and Dustin Jump each rushed for 500 yards last year in a balanced offensive attack. Senior Brandon Clark moves from running back to tight end this season.
With eight offensive starters returning on offense and seven on defense, the only area Falkville looks thin in is the line. Junior center Cody Smith and senior offensive tackle Dustin Reeves will look to pick up that slack.
On defense, Clark will be looked to at linebacker, as will sophomore nose guard Justin Baldwin. Reeves is back at defensive end, working with a pair of sophomores — Blake Wilhite and Cody Kelsoe.
What to watch: The inexperienced offensive line will need to learn quickly to support a cast of backs and receivers that are the team’s strong point, featuring several speedy members of the Blue Devils state championship winning track team. Players say they need to be more physical than they have in years past, and that goes back to the line. If the linemen stay tough, the rest of the Blue Devils will likely follow their lead.
When to watch: Falkville hosts Vincent on Oct. 19, a contest that will be big in the region standings. Falkville plays two county rivals, one early and one late. The Blue Devils play at Danville on Thursday to kick off the season and at Priceville on Nov. 2 in the regular-season finale.
Why to watch: It’s been two straight trips to the postseason and two consecutive first-round exits for the Blue Devils. A program that used to set its goal just on making the playoffs now sets its sights on advancing. The Blue Devils think the key to that will be hosting a first-round game instead of traveling as they have the past two seasons. And they have reason to think it’s a realistic possibility. Last year, Falkville was one touchdown away from beating the 2A, Region 5 champion, Vincent.
DAILY Sports Writer
Head coach: Tyler Berryman (0-0 as a head coach, was an assistant with Hatton last year).
2006 record: 3-7. Did not make the state playoffs.
Win totals 2002-2006: 9-2-7-1-3.
Whom to watch in 2007: Junior quarterback Tevin Terrell (5-foot-7, 150 pounds) and a “good group of receivers” in seniors Clinton Proctor and Cameron Logston and juniors Chase Martin, Riley Terry and Caleb Hatton. Senior Barry Pool will be a stopper on defense at linebacker.
What to watch: Berryman, 31, is asking his team to score two offensive touchdowns, one defensive touchdown and one special teams touchdown each game. He is placing emphasis on defense this year.
When to watch: On Thursday, Lawrence County rival Speake visits Hatton in the season opener. How the Hornets do in that game might set the tone for the season. The next week, Class 2A power Addison visits Hatton. The Hornets also have a big task when Tanner comes to town for homecoming Oct. 12.
Why to watch: Berryman takes the reins of his alma mater and must get the Hornets back to the playoffs. He promises his team is “going to hit like Hatton used to hit.” Berryman said if his team plays together, and continues to improve, a winning record and trip to the playoffs are possible.
Daily Assistant Sports Editor
Head coach: Laron White (37-11 in four seasons at Tanner).
2006 record: 10-2. Made it to the second round of the state playoffs.
Win totals 2002-2006: 7-10-7-10-10.
Whom to watch in 2007: Senior running back Jarquise Peoples rushed for 1,060 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t put up big numbers again this year, especially since the Rattlers lost another big rusher (all-area running back Tim Mason) to graduation.
Junior Amos Draper and sophomore Zach Draper started every game on the offensive line last year. Amos is a standout on the defensive line, too. Everybody in Tanner knows about tight end/linebacker Keith Shoulders, but this might be the year when others learn about the talented senior, too.
What to watch: White has shown in the past that if he has a strong passing game, he’s not afraid to use it. But White, a former offensive lineman at Alabama for Gene Stallings, likes to establish the run. So as usual, look for Tanner to display a powerful ground attack, chomping yards and wins along the way.
When to watch: For sheer excitement, check out Tanner’s Sept. 27 home matchup with Class 4A East Limestone. It doesn’t affect the region standings, but these two teams have played two one-point games in the past two years. Region 8 contests against West Morgan (Sept. 7) and Addison (Oct. 5) should be interesting, too. One of those three teams likely will win the region title.
Why to watch: After slumping in the late 1990s, Tanner has rebounded into one of the best small-school programs in North Alabama. The Rattlers play hard, and they’re always fun for a football fan to watch.
Daily Sports Editor
Head coach: Pierre Coggins (39-17 in five seasons at West Morgan).
2006 record: 8-4. Made it to the second round of the state playoffs.
Win totals 2002-2006: 11-10-5-5-8.
Whom to watch in 2007: Senior quarterback Josh McAbee is the name Rebels fans know, but you may want to check out the running backs behind him. The list includes juniors Blake Gholston and Desmond Clay and sophomore Terrance Carter. West Morgan has a history of producing excellent running backs, such as Chauncey Malone and Eric Gray. Gholston, Clay and Carter should provide plenty of highlights for the home team.
What to watch: Until the last game, a 28-7 loss to Section in the second round of the state playoffs, West Morgan had a consistently good offense. That shouldn’t be any different this year, even though graduation hit the Rebels at receiver and along the offensive line.
When to watch: Three of West Morgan’s most interesting games this year are on the road — at Tanner (Sept. 7), at Red Bay (Sept. 21) and at Addison (Oct. 26). But West Morgan is known for getting good support from its fans, so the Rebels are sure to bring along a big group of supporters no matter where they go.
Why to watch: Last year, it seemed as if West Morgan got stronger as the season went along, and that shouldn’t be any different this year. If the Rebels can get off to a good start, then that could be a good indication that Coggins has yet another strong team.
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Daily Sports Editor
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