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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2007
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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL OUTLOOKS

The Daily analyzes the local Class 1A teams. The 6A, 5A and 4A teams were featured Monday, and the 3A and 2A teams were featured Tuesday.

Class 1A
Hazlewood

Head coach: Aaron Goode (26-20 in four years as head coach, all at Hazlewood).

2006 record: 8-4. The Golden Bears lost in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs 13-12 at Donoho.

Win totals 2002-2006: 11-5-5-8-8.

Whom to watch in 2007: Senior running back D.J. Jones and senior quarterback Keginald Harris. Jones’ mailbox is filling up with letters from several Division I schools for his skills as a defensive back and running back. Last season, Jones rushed for 1,236 yards in 10 games. At summer camps at Auburn and UAB, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. Colleges like Harris for his leaping ability and smarts around the ball as a free safety.

What to watch: Again, Hazlewood is fast, big and strong. Goode said this year’s team may not be as talented as some in recent years, but he said the players appear more unified and ready. The team is dedicating its season to Michael Langham, who died in a car crash July 13. Langham would have been the starting tight end and defensive end. The team will wear his No. 27 on the back of their helmets.

When to watch: Class 4A powerhouse Tarrant visits Town Creek on Aug. 31. Next comes county rival Speake, which beat Hazlewood for the first time last year in Speake. The final Region 8 contest for the Golden Bears will be at home vs. R.A. Hubbard.

Why to watch: Hazlewood High owns more state football championship trophies than any other high school in Alabama. Every year when they line up, the Golden Bears are a threat to bring home another blue trophy. The state sportswriters’ preseason poll has Hazlewood in the sixth spot. That gives the Golden Bears a mark to try to improve upon.

Michael Wetzel,
Daily Assistant Sports Editor

Mount Hope

Head coach: John Smith (7-14 in three years at Mount Hope; 55-66 overall).

2006 record: 5-2, which included a forfeit win from Tharptown. Mount Hope is not in a region and ineligible for the playoffs.

Win totals 2002-2006: 2-0-2-0-5.

Whom to watch in 2007: Senior running back/linebacker Cody Little has ambitions on playing small-college football. He will be able to show his skills one more season in front of the Yellow Jackets’ faithful. Quarterback Ty Linker and running back/linebacker Chase Hopkins are the other two seniors carrying the torch this year.

What to watch: Smith has abandoned his wishbone attack, but may use it in some shortage situations. He said the Yellow Jackets will run multiple sets, including five wide receivers in a two-minute offense. Mount Hope has 29 players this year and no seventh-graders.

When to watch: It is going to be nearly a month into the season before Mount Hope fans will be able to sit in the new bleachers at the stadium to watch a regular-season game. Waterloo will visit the Western Lawrence County school Sept. 21. Two other home games will bring visitors from Tharptown on Oct. 11 and Lyman Ward Military Academy from Dadeville on Oct. 19. Since Mount Hope is not part of the state playoff system, the Lyman Ward contest will mark the final high school game for Little, Linker and Hopkins.

Why to watch: Smith, who played under Ralph “Shug” Jordan at Auburn, has his roster is growing. He likes his group of juniors. Mount Hope might be a year away from making noise and possibly rejoining a region. Two veteran coaches assisting Smith this year are Anthony Inman and Don Smith.

Michael Wetzel,
Daily Assistant Sports Editor

R.A. Hubbard

Head coach: Lymos McDonald (74-28 in eight years as head coach at R.A. Hubbard).

2006 record: 7-5. The Chiefs lost to Cedar Bluff 19-14 in the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

Win totals 2002-2006: 9-11-14-6-7.

Whom to watch in 2007: Senior LeBrandon Key, a big and strong left-handed quarterback and defensive back, and senior Dontae Robinson, a strong, versatile player who lines up at several different positions, will be forces on both sides of the ball. Players and coaches alike say
junior running back Tecumseh Garth could hold the season
in his hands when he has the ball.

What to watch: McDonald has a couple of brutes in 280-pound senior center Ramsee Miller and left tackle Brannon White, who weighs 270. McDonald plans to run Garth behind his massive offensive line and tank-like fullback Josh Williams, who weighs 260 pounds.

When to watch: Class 2A power Addison is awaiting the Chiefs in the opener for both schools Aug. 31. On Sept. 29, improving county rival Speake visits the Chiefs’ field in Courtland. On Oct. 26, Hubbard visits Hazlewood in what is always a key region matchup.

Why to watch: R.A. Hubbard won a state championship under McDonald in 1999 when it was known as Courtland High. Key and his surrounding casts are eager to win a state title as R.A. Hubbard. If the team stays healthy, and Garth and Robinson get the football enough, it looks like another sure trip to the playoffs. Just how deep into the playoffs depends on the senior leaders and a little luck.

Michael Wetzel,
Daily Assistant Sports Editor

Speake

Head coach: Heath Grimes (19-22 in four years as head coach at Speake).

2006 record: 9-3. The Bobcats lost 21-14 to Talladega County Central in the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

Win totals 2002-2006: 6-6-1-4-9.

Whom to watch in 2007: The passing combination of quarterback T.J. Green and receiver Zach Vick. They’re both seniors and have started since the ninth grade. Green passed for nine touchdowns and rushed for seven, while Vick caught 28 passes for 649 yards and four touchdowns. On defense, he intercepted a team-leading six passes.

Senior linebacker Corey Taylor is back after making 86 tackles, and senior running back Chase Atkins rushed for more than 500 yards.

What to watch: Like last season, Speake’s defense will be strong again. Defensive coordinator Rory Carpenter manages a solid unit, and there’s enough talent back from a year ago to perform well again.

When to watch: Speake plays two big road games early in the season at Hazlewood (Sept. 7) and R.A. Hubbard (Sept. 21). The Bobcats beat Hazlewood but lost to R.A. Hubbard on their way to a Region 8 championship. The final regular-season game is at Danville (Nov. 1). The Hawks upset Speake a year ago, and the Bobcats haven’t forgotten.

Why to watch: Speake’s rise to a region championship made for one of the best stories last season in North Alabama. Football fans should enjoy seeing what the Bobcats do for a follow-up, especially since Grimes has another good team ready to go.

Mark Edwards,
Daily Sports Editor

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