MONTGOMERY – Senior slugger Shea Putman of J.B. Pennington High School slugged her way into the national spotlight earlier this month when she slugged seven home runs in seven consecutive plate appearances to set a new NFHS National High School softball record.
Her performance shared the AHSAA Softball Spotlight this week with Colbert Heights High School’s slugging lineup that set two AHSAA fast-pitch records with seven home runs in one inning and 11 in a 24019 win over Cherokee. The game total tied the NFHS national record.
Putman set a national and AHSAA record with seven straight home runs in seven consecutive plate appearances during a three-game stretch to eclipse the national record of five set previously by Aubrey Martin of Muscatine (IA) in 2002 and equaled by Amanda Emelander of Wyoming Lee (MI) in 2014. Both hit five consecutive home runs in one game. Putman accomplished her feat over three games.
The senior Snead State commitment belted three home runs in three plate appearances in a 13-3 win over Hanceville, followed with three more in a 6-0 win over Good Hope. She boomed her seventh in a row in her first plate appearance Pennington’s 13-1 win over Locust Fork. She drove in 11 runs in the streak and then opened the next game, a 5-0 win over Glencoe, with a solo homer for eight home runs in nine plate appearances.
“The streak was something to see,” said Pennington Coach Jeff Gibbs, who served as Oneonta head coach for 10 years before retiring in 2016. He came out of retirement this year to take over the J.B. Pennington program. “What makes it even more special is that Shea has not mentioned this one time. The team hasn’t talked about it either. We have seven seniors leading this team who are committed to being the best they can be. Their goal is to get to Tuscaloosa (Regionals) and to Montgomery (State Tourney). They are a joy to coach.”
Putman, who plays catcher and shortstop for the Tigers, has 13 home runs on the season for Class 3A J.B. Pennington (9-1). She is hitting .398 with 25 RBIs in 10 games. She has struck out once this season and has nine walks – four of them intentional. She had two home runs in the team’s last game, s 10-9 loss to Blount County rival Hayden. Alanna Goble, an Auburn-Montgomery signee, also has four home runs, is hitting .440 on the season and has struck out 130 as the team’s pitcher. Currently on spring break, Gibbs’ team will play Hayden net Monday and then compete in the Blount County tourney at Appalachian April 4-5.
Colbert Heights High School’s strong lineup as seven different players blasted home runs in the win over Cherokee – seven of the homers coming in the same inning to set the state record. The 11 in a game ties the national high school single-game record set by Chicago St. Benedict versus Chicago Providence on April 13, 2000. The seven in one inning may be a national record as well, but the NFHS Record Book does list that category among its records.
Caroline Clark hit three in the contest to lead Wildcats of Coach Brad James, who has over 700 career wins as head softball coach. Kinsley Milender and Katelyn Hand each had two home runs. One of Milender’s home runs was a grand slam, and she finished with seven RBIs. Clark finished with four RBIs and Hand had three. Also homering for Colbert Heights were Kylie Robinson, Alana Roberts, Haleigh Rhodes and Kaylee Fuller. Guntersville and Ider each hit eight homers in a game to share the AHSAA record. Guntersville had six in one inning in its 12-1 win over Brewer in 2018. Ider socked eight in a game in 2008.
Cherokee’s Brianna Gooch had two homers for the Indians – giving both teams 13 home runs in the game – another AHSAA state record.
Clark followed with two homers and five RBIs in a 13-2 win over Phil Campbell.
Colbert Heights’ home run barrage came in a 24 broke two state records for home runs in a 24-10 victory over Cherokee in high school softball last week.
COACH ANTHONY COX, BALDWIN COUNTY: The Tigers from Bay Minette captured the 400th win of Cox’s coaching career with a 5-4 win over Auburn at the Auburn High School Softball Invitational.
OTHER TOP PERFORMANCES
LAUREN YATES, CENTRAL-FLORENCE: Slugged a grand slam and two-run homer for six RBIs and hurled six innings to get the 13-7 win over Muscle Shoals. The game was highlighted by seven home runs. Brianna Posey and Hannah Russell had one solo homer each for Central while Elizabeth Marshall, Madelyn Stonecipher and Natalie Nesbit homered for the Trojans.
DALLAS POTTER, G.W. LONG: Slugged two home runs and a single to drive in three runs to lead the Rebels (18-0) past Gardendale 6-2 in the finals of the Alex Wilcox Memorial/FCA Tourney at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park. She finished the tourney with five homers and 10 RBIs. Pitchers Libby Baker and Savanna Wood combined to allow just two runs over 32 innings with 61 strikeouts in six wins in the tourney. Baker pitched the win over Gardendale.
ABBY WATERS, GARDENDALE: Was 17-of-24 with four doubles and six RBIs for the week as the Rockets (21-3) finished runner-up at the Alex Wilcox Memorial Tourney at Lagoon Park last week. G.W. Long won the championship. Teammate Kylee Franklin added four doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs among her 10 hits for the week.
HANNAH WISHAAR, SPANISH FORT: Had three hits, including her second game-winning home run of the season, in a 6-5 win over Gulf Breeze (FL). Teammate Ainsley Lambert had two hits, scored twice and struck out 14 in a 4-0 shutout win over Jay (FL). Wishaar also had the game-winning two-run homer as the Toros beat Daphne 2-0 and Lambert pitched a no-hitter striking out 17. She also whiffed 18 in a 3-0 win over Saraland and finished the week with 48 strikeouts in three wins.
BREANNA BARLOW, EXCEL: Pitched a pair of complete-game shutouts, including a perfect game, and struck out 13 for the week. Her perfect game came in an 8-0 win over Zion Chapel. She struck out seven in that game. At the plate, she went 11-of-16 with seven homers, three doubles, 15 RBIs and 10 runs scored.
MONTGOMERY – Westbrook Christian senior pitcher Samuel Dutton took his bid for a perfect game to another level last week. The senior and Warriors’ ace hurler faced the minimum 15 batters in Westbrook’s five-inning 12-0 high school baseball win. He struck out the first 14 batters he faced and finished his perfect game by getting Gaston’s William Humphrey to ground out on a 0-2 pitch to third.
For his efforts, Dutton, an LSU commit, grabbed the AHSAA Baseball Spotlight this week.
The pitcher explained his simple but effective pitching philosophy to sportswriter Chris McCarthy of the Gadsden Messenger as concentrating on just one batter at a time as he worked his way through the Gaston lineup.
“I just try to stay focused while I am on the mound,” he said. “I try to do daily what I need to do. It’s been a good season so far.”
Westbrook, coached by Matt Kennedy, took control of the game with five runs in the top of the first inning. Greyson Robinson ripped a bases-loaded double to give Dutton all the run support he would need.
“Samuel Dutton is going compete,” said Kennedy. “He works hard and gets the job done. It’s a joy to watch him pitch and I’m proud of the way our team responds when he’s out there.” The pitcher helped his own cause with a double and two runs scored.
In other baseball highlights reported from the last two weeks:
JACOB DAVIS, SPANISH FORT: Hurled a one-hitter and struck out 16 as Spanish Fort downed Daphne 2-0.
HANSEN McKeown, OAK MOUNTAIN: Tossed a no-hitter striking out 12 to beat Boonville (MO) 10-0, and teammate Jackson Kimbrel struck out 13 in a 6-1 win over Austin.
JACKSON REECE, JAMES CLEMENS: Pitched a six-inning 11-1 win over Auburn striking out 12.
ISAAC EVANS, ATHENS: Hurled a six-inning no-hitter over DAR striking out eight to get the win.
KONNER COPELAND, SARALAND: Pitched a five-inning two-hit shutout and struck out 13 as the Spartans downed Alma Bryant 10-0.
COLT SMITH, MARS HILL BIBLE: Hurled a one-hit, six-inning shutout with nine strikeouts to beat Shoals Christian 10-0. Panthers’ slugger Collin Huntley collected a single, double and triple to drive in two runs for Mars Hill.
DANIEL JAMES, GRISSOM: Struck out 14 and allowed just one earned run in the Tigers’ 7-2 win over Ooltewah (TN). He yielded three hits.
BLAISE DYKES, SLOCOMB: Hurled a five-inning no-hitter as the Red Tops blanked Kinston 14-0 in the Geneva County tourney. He struck out seven and walked two.
OTHER TOP PERFORMANCES
MONTGOMERY – Pisgah High School senior guard Annie Hughes and Mountain Brook senior forward Trendon Watford were named Miss and Mr. Basketball, respectively, at the Alabama Sportswriters Association (ASWA) luncheon Tuesday at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. AHSAA corporate partner ALFA Insurance sponsored the luncheon which is hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
Hughes, an Auburn signee, was also named the Class 3A Girls’ Player of the Year by the ASWA and was recently named the Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year and Al.com Girls’ Player of the Year. She led Pisgah, coached by Carey Ellison, to the 2018 and 2019 Class 3A state titles, earning state Tourney MVP each year. She averaged 21.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.5 steals as a senior.
Pisgah went 65-2 over the past two seasons. Hughes is the first player from a school in a classification smaller than 5A to win Miss Basketball since Hayden Hamby of 3A West Morgan in 2011. Hughes is also the first Jackson County player to win in the 32-year history of the award.
The 6-foot-9 Watford, also named the Class 7A Boys’ Player of the Year by the ASWA, was selected to participate in the McDonald’s All-America Game March 27 and was unable to attend Tuesday’s luncheon. He led the Spartans to three straight Class 7A state basketball championships – earning MVP honors all three years.
He averaged 23.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists as a senior. He finished his career as the AHSAA career rebounding leader with 1,909 and had 3,783 career points. He also had 285 career blocked shots and had 155 career 3-pointers.
Emily Westlake accepted for Watford. The annual awards banquet was presented by ALFA Insurance.
Watford, who is still uncommitted, became just the fourth repeat winner of the ASWA Mr. Basketball Award. The others are John Petty of Butler (2016) and Mae Jemison (2017) high schools; Trevor Lacey of Butler (2010 and 2011); and Ronald Steele of John Carroll Catholic (2003 and 2004).
Hughes gathered 52 points in the Miss Basketball balloting of the ASWA All-State Committee. Finishing second was Spain Park’s Barker (46), followed by Pleasant Home’s Baldwin (45), Joiya Maddox of Hoover (10) and Hazel Green’s Snodgrass (9). These five comprise the ASWA Super 5 All-State Team for 2019.
Watford led the ASWA Boys’ Super 5 All-State Team with 11 first-place votes and 66 total points. Rounding out Top 5 were Kobe Brown of Lee-Huntsville (27), Demond Robinson of Lee-Montgomery (27), Kam Woods, Pinson Valley (20) and Jaykwon Walton of Carver-Montgomery (19).
The ASWA named a player of the year for boys and girls in each of the AHSAA’s seven classifications and the AISA. Those recipients included:
ASWA Class Boys’ Players of the Year
Class 7A: Trendon Watford, Mountain Brook
Class 6A: Kameron Woods, Pinson Valley
Class 5A: Cameron Tucker, Wenonah
Class 4A: Kobe Simmons, Talladega
Class 3A: Auston Leslie, Westminster Christian
Class 2A: Jayden Stone, Sacred Heart Catholic
Class 1A: Noah Boler, Decatur Heritage
AISA: Gunnar Henderson, Morgan Academy
ASWA Girls Class ’ Players of the Year
Class 7A: Sarah Ashlee Barker, Spain Park
Class 6A: Marisa Snodgrass, Hazel Green
Class 5A: Quintasia Leatherwood, Central-Tuscaloosa
Class 4A: Kathleen Wheeler, Priceville
Class 3A: Annie Hughes, Pisgah
Class 2A: Elizabeth Hill, Cold Springs
Class 1A: River Baldwin, Pleasant Home
AISA: Kelsey Curry, Tuscaloosa Academy
Alabama Sportswriters Association
Miss Basketball Recipients (1988-2019)
2019 – Annie Hughes, Pisgah
2018 - Zipporah Broughton, Lee-Montgomery
2017 – Bianca Jackson, Brew Tech
2016 – Jasmine Walker, Jeff Davis
2015 - Shaquera Wade, Huntsville
2014 - Shakayla Thomas, Sylacauga
2013 - Marqu’es Webb, Hoover
2012 - Jasmine Jones, Bob Jones
2011 - Hayden Hamby, West Morgan
2010 - Kaneisha Horn, Ramsay
2009 - Jala Harris, Bob Jones
2008 - Courtney Jones, Midfield
2007 - Katherine Graham, Ramsay
2006 - Shanavia Dowdell, Calera
2005 - Whitney Boddie, Florence
2004 - Starr Orr, Speake
2003 - Sidney Spencer, Hoover
2002 - Kate Mastin, Boaz
2001 - Donyel Wheeler, Huffman
2000 - Natasha Thomas, Lawrence County
1999 - Tasheika Morris, Butler
1998 - Gwen Jackson, Eufaula
1997 - April Nance, Butler
1996 - Nicole Carruth, Sulligent
1995 - Heather Mayes, Fyffe
1994 - Pam Duncan, Carrollton
1993 - Leah Monteith, Cherokee County
1992 - Yolanda Watkins, Decatur
1991 - Tonya Tice, Hamilton
1990 - Karen Killen, Mars Hill Bible
1989 - Leslie Claybrook, St. James
1988 - Jeaniece Slater, Hartselle
Mr. Basketball Recipients (1985-2019)
2019 - Trendon Watford, Mountain Brook
2018 - Trendon Watford, Mountain Brook
2017 - John Petty, Mae Jemison
2016 - John Petty, J.O. Johnson
2015 – Dazon Ingram, Theodore
2014 - William Lee, Dallas County
2013 - De’Runnya Wilson, Wenonah
2012 - Craig Sword, Carver-Montgomery
2011 - Trevor Lacey, Butler
2010 - Trevor Lacey, Butler
2009 - Kerryon Johnson, Madison Academy
2008 - JaMychal Green, St. Jude
2007 - Courtney Fortson, Jeff Davis
2006 - Stanley Robinson, Huffman
2005 - Richard Hendrix, Athens
2004 - Ronald Steele, John Carroll
2003 - Ronald Steele, John Carroll
2002 - Kennedy Winston, Blount
2001 - Chris White, Grissom
2000 - Gerald Wallace, Childersburg
1999 - Marvin Stone, Grissom
1998 - Sam Haginas, UMS-Wright
1997 - Anthony Williams, Loachapoka
1996 - Isaac Spencer, Jeff Davis
1995 - Brian Williams, Jeff Davis
1994 - Rod Willie, Lee-Huntsville
1993 - Howard Pride, Butler
1992 - Darryl Wilson, South Lamar
1991 - Victor Newman, Houston Academy
1990 - Cedric Moore, Woodlawn
1989 - Queintonia Higgins, Fairhope
1988 - Terrance Lewis, Ramsay
1987 - Bryant Lancaster, Valley
1986 - Larry Rembert, Keith
1985 - Vincent Robinson, Bridgeport
Future1s will become the Official Cloth Partner of the AHSAA to provide yearly, customized uniforms for all AHSAA All-Star events including AL/MS All-Star Football Game.
MONTGOMERY, ALA. – The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) has announced a three-year partnership with Alabama-based apparel and equipment company Future1s, beginning in July 2019. Future1s is headquartered in Mobile, Alabama.
As the Official Cloth Partner of the AHSAA, Future1s will provide yearly, customized uniforms for all AHSAA All-Star events including Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football and Basketball Games.
"The Alabama High School Athletic Association is proud to partner with Future1s to provide customized uniforms for some of our most-anticipated events," said AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity Future1s will provide our member schools.”
AHSAA Assistant Director Denise Ainsworth, who oversees the AHSAA Corporate Partner program, said, “Moving forward, we are truly excited about this partnership and welcome Future1s into the AHSAA family.”
As the new partner of the AHSAA, Future1s has aspirations of becoming an industry leader by focusing on quality and accessibility to high school programs across the state and region.
Future1s founders Gus Smith and Trent Massey partnered in February 2016 with a revolutionary idea to change the way football teams practice. Their original product was the Scout Team Jersey, which they still offer today and features a one-of-a-kind scout team practice jersey with interchangeable numbers. In as little as 15 seconds, the Scout Team Jersey can turn each member of your scout team into your upcoming opponent. Now, Future1s operates as a full-team dealer. With a growing product line, Future1s’ popularity is growing quickly, with Michigan, Arizona, Texas A&M, SMU, Houston, South Alabama and multiple high school programs on board.
“We are very excited about this partnership," said Future1s Co-Founder Gus Smith. "Since our founding, our goal has been to provide the highest-quality products for the best prices. We want to treat every school and team like they are our top priority, and this partnership is no different. In today’s world of apparel and marketing, the large, recognizable schools receive all the special treatment. Future1s wants to make every program feel like they are just as important to the next.”
By Rubin E. Grant
Courtesy of Over-the-Mountain Journal
Trey Allen wasn’t sure how he would perform in a national track and field indoor meet earlier this month.
The Oak Mountain senior high jumper was dealing with tibial stress syndrome (a shin splints injury) when he entered the competition in the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet March 8-10 at The Armory in New York City. The injury occurred after he dunked a basketball in the days leading up to the meet.
“Going into the meet I wasn’t thinking I was going to win,” Allen said. “I had an injury and my mind was everywhere. I prayed, used some Icy Hot, soaked in the tub, took two Advils and went out and jumped.”
The remedies worked better than Allen could have hoped as he soared to win the 2019 National High Jump Championship with a clearance of 6 feet, 10.75 inches. He became only the second athlete ever from Alabama to earn that distinction in the history of the event.
“It was a good performance, and I’m very grateful to God,” Allen said. “I was surprised I did as well I did on a bad shin. While my goal was to break my 7-0 record — I had three close attempts — I can't complain about winning the national championship. It’s an honor to bring back to Oak Mountain High and the state of Alabama.”
Allen entered the meet as the No. 1 ranked high school high jumper in the nation for the 2019 indoor season. He had broken the U.S. high school high jump record earlier this year by clearing 7 feet.
The national competition began with 21 top high jump finalists from around the country. Opening height for the event started at 6-3.25. Then the bar was raised as follows: 6-5, 6-7, 6-9, 6-10.75, 7-00.25.
Allen jumped consistently with no scratches until height 6-10.75. The stellar performance earned him the National New Balance Indoor High Jump Champion. He also was honored as an All-American for the second consecutive year.
More than 3,700 of the country's best sprinters, hurdlers, runners, jumpers, throwers, walkers and relay crews competed in the national event.
Allen set an indoor AHSAA state record for the high jump, clearing 6-11 at the Ice Breaker Meet in early January at the Birmingham CrossPlex. Allen came back to the CrossPlex a few weeks later to break his own record by clearing 7 feet during the Martin Luther King event.
Allen jumped 6-9 at the state indoor championships on Feb. 1, setting a Class 7A meet record and claiming his first individual state title. He tried to clear 7-1 but grazed the bar on all three of his attempts.
This is just Allen’s second year as a track athlete. He had been playing football as a 6-foot-4 wide receiver and basketball as a small forward for Oak Mountain.
Oak Mountain high School track coach Riley White witnessed Allen doing some spectacular dunks in the gym and recognized his jumping potential. He encouraged Allen to come out for track.
Allen decided to jump at the opportunity. Last winter, he gave up playing basketball so he could compete during the indoor and outdoor seasons. After finishing his football career last fall, he returned to track.
“I really didn’t think about track until Coach White asked me,” Allen said. “I loved football and wanted to play in the NFL. But track changed my mind and now I love track. I want to keep working and become good enough to be an Olympian.”
Allen admitted he was awkward at first. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I was just jumping. I didn’t know about twisting my back as I went over the bar.”
“I jumped 6-2 and I didn’t know if that was good. Coach White told me it was, so I kept going.”
Last summer, Allen earned All-America honors at the New Balance Nationals in North Carolina with an outdoor jump of 6-10.25. He cleared 6-10 in the AHSAA Class 7A outdoor state championships last May and set a new Class 7A state record.
Allen’s 7-foot clearance earlier this year landed him a full track and field scholarship to Louisville. He already had accepted a partial scholarship from the Cardinals, but the coaching staff dangled a full scholarship if he cleared 7 feet.
“That motivated me,” Allen said.
White said he is not surprised at Allen’s fast rise to success.
“He’s a natural, and that’s what Louisville sees in him, a kid whose ceiling is significantly higher than 7 feet,” White said.
Allen won’t be strictly a jumper in college.
“They’re going to use me in some other events, jumps and relays,” Allen said. “They’re going to get their money’s worth out of me.”
MONTGOMERY – Eleven major contributors to prep athletics in Alabama were inducted into the 29th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Monday night. The 2019 class, which included an “old-timer,” were enshrined at a banquet held at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Spa Convention Center.
Inducted were: football coaches Phil Lazenby, David Lowery, Willie Carl Martin, Billy Odom and Ronnie Sikes; basketball coaches Carolyn Wright and Scheussler Ware; track coach Claborn Campbell; baseball coach Mark Mincher; basketball official Johnny Robertson; and longtime coach and administrator Reynolds “R.C.” Cook, chosen in the old-timers’’ division. Mr. Cook is deceased. His son Stan Cook represented his father at the ceremonies.
Coach Wright gave a resounding acceptance speech for what she described as a very humble and fortunate group.
“We are a group of 11 individuals with devout faith who all shared the same goals, but we did it in many different ways,” she said. “This class of inductees have been mentors for coaches and teachers throughout the state of Alabama.
“How did we get here? We have been truly blessed. We all have the same goals and we all had the same passions. Yet, we all expressed it in different ways. We all have the same testimony … with a lot of praying and God on our side we were able to endure together over 350 years of service to school systems all across the state of Alabama. As we take a look back, we can truly see how we were all guided.
“We got here because our hearts and souls said yes. Yes, we wanted to change lives. Yes, we wanted to produce productive citizens to give back to our communities. And yes, we wanted to instill integrity. We wanted to create in our students a mindset of fortitude.”
Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program are the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) and the AHSAA. The corporate partners include Alabama Power, ALFA, Cadence Bank, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, Jack’s, Russell Athletic, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
Carolyn Wright accepted for the Class of 2019. Veteran sportscaster Jeff Shearer emceed the banquet. The NFHS Network live-streamed the banquet over the NFHS Network School Broadcast Program platform.
The first class was inducted in 1991. These 11 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 353.
OPTIONAL BIOS ON EACH INDUCTEE
A profile of each selectee:
CLABORN CAMPBELL: Campbell, 65, graduated from Cold Spring High School and Southern Benedictine College – then returned as a high school teacher and coach spending the bulk of his years in education at his alma mater Cold Springs (1979-83 & 1999-2018). He also had coaching stints at Winston County and West Point.
Considered one of the top track coaches in the state, he guided the Panthers’ boys to two state track titles and had four teams finish runner-up. The Cold Springs girls’ track team won 17 Cullman County championships. He also directed the Cold Springs girls and boys to three state cross country crowns and had seven runner-up finishes.
A dedicated coach and devout man of faith, he has been inducted into the Cullman County Sports Hall of Fame, was an AHSAA Making A Difference Award recipient in 2016, was selected NFHS Alabama Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2017 (girls) and 2016 (boys). U.S. Track and Field named him Boys’ Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2014.
REYNOLDS G. COOK (OLDTIMER Division): Cook, now deceased, was born in 1913 and graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1933. He earned his college degree from Troy State Teachers College in 1950. He earned his master’s in 1964.
He began his teaching and coaching at Williams School in Montgomery, then moved to Union Springs High School in 1952 where he remained in various capacities through 1974.
He coached Union Springs’ only undefeated 10-0 football team in 1956 – earning him Birmingham Post-Herald Class 1A Coach of the Year. His 1957 team was 9-1 and participated in the prestigious Peanut Bowl at Dothan. As a basketball coach he had two teams go undefeated through the regular season – combining for a 46-2 record in 1963-64 and 1964-65.
He also coached baseball and helped bring the Alabama Lions Club regional East-West Baseball Game to Union Springs for several years. He also coached Union Springs to signature baseball victories over his much larger alma mater Sidney Lanier and its rival Robert E. Lee. He founded the youth baseball programs for Union Springs and remained active for many years.
He left coaching to become the Superintendent of Education in Bullock County – guiding the school system through 1974. He also served as president of the TSU Alumni Association and was District Governor of the Alabama Lions International.
PHIL LAZENBY: A graduate of Bessemer High School (1968) and Samford University (1974), Lazenby, 68, also received a master’s in education from the University of Montevallo in 1979. He played on Samford University’s 1971 National Championship football team and was selected Most Valuable Defensive Player for SU in 1973.
He embarked on a long-time career in teaching and coaching, first as an assistant football and head tennis coach at Bessemer’s Jess Lanier High School (1976-1980). He then moved to Mountain Brook where he served as defensive coordinator and assistant principal (1981-90).
He became a head coach, first at Guntersville (1991-95), was at Southside-Gadsden for one year in 1996, then moved to Benjamin Russell (1997-2000) and currently is at Bayside Academy (2007-present). He spent 2001-2006 at UMS-Wright as assistant coach and strength & conditioning coach. His overall head-coaching record is 169-89 with two state championship game appearances at Benjamin Russell and one at Bayside Academy. His teams had just two losing seasons in 21 years and have reached the state playoffs 17 times.
Lazenby coached as an assistant and head coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, was ASWA Coach of the Year in 1997, 2011 and 2015 and has served as a past president of the Alabama Football Coaches Association. Lazenby was inducted into the Samford Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. He served in the U.S. Army infantry reaching the rank of First Sergeant with tours in Europe and Central America.
DAVID LOWERY: A native of Butler County, Lowery, 53, graduated from Georgiana High School in 1983, Troy University in 1988 and earned a master’s at AUM in 1998. Hs first teaching/coaching position was at Evergreen High School in 1988. He moved to Elba High School as assistant coach and defensive coordinator from 1989-1998. He also was head baseball coach leading the Tigers to the playoff semifinals in 1993 and 1994. He was head football coach two years (1995-1996).
He then moved to Brantley High School where he was head football coach and athletic director from 1999-2013. He had an amazing run compiling a 156-27 overall record and 88-3 region record. His teams won the Class 1A state football title in 2009 and 2012 and finished runner-up in 1999 and 2005.
Lowery was named ASWA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 1999 and ALFCA Class 1A Coach of the Year in 2012. Brantley High School named the football field David Lowery Stadium in 2013, and he was inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
WILLIE CARL MARTIN: The Alexander City native and outstanding high school football lineman graduated from Laurel High School in 1969. He attended Northeastern Oklahoma on football scholarship. He was selected in the summer of 1969 to participate in the North-South All-Star Game – as one of the first three black participants in the game’s history.
After a successful playing career in the Canadian Football League (CFL), Martin, 67, returned to Alexander City and began a teaching and coaching career at Benjamin Russell High School that spanned the next 25 years. He served as an assistant football coach from 1985-2001 directing a defense that allowed only 12.32 points a game over a 15-year period. He served as head football coach from 2001-2006. He compiled a 51-24 record during that span and captured the school’s only state football title in in his first year in 2001.
Martin’s leadership expanded to the AHSAA where he served on the District 4 Board and Central Board from 2003-2007.
He was hired in 2007 to serve on the University of Alabama football staff as Director of Player Development, a role he kept until 2015 when he retired. In May of that year, Alexander City celebrated Willie Carl Martin Day (on May 12) as the city honored the native son who served as a trailblazer throughout his career.
MARK MINCHER: Mincher graduated from Hazel Green High School in Madison County in 1975, got his college degree from Memphis State University in 1975 and later earned a master’s in administration from Alabama A&M.
The son of former Major League baseball standout Don Mincher embarked on a career in education in 1980 that lasted more than three decades. He coached football, boys’ and girls’ basketball and baseball at Monrovia Middle School for two years before moving to Sparkman High School in 1982. He became head baseball coach in 1983. He moved to Huntsville High School as head baseball coach in 1985, a position he held for the next 28 years. He compiled a 576-353 baseball-coaching record with 12 city championships, eight area titles, 18 state playoff appearances and one Class 6A state championship (2011).
Mincher also served as HHS athletic director during that time and became an important mentor for other teachers and coaches, not only at his school but throughout Huntsville, Madison County and the state.
He was recognized as the Huntsville City baseball coach of the year numerous times, was named AlaBCA Coach of the Year (6A) and NFHS State Baseball Coach of the Year in 2011. Mincher was inducted into the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. He was chosen HCPTA Secondary Principal of the Year in 2015.
BILLY ODOM: Odom, 68, graduated from Baker High School in Mobile in 1968 and from Mississippi College in 1972. He served as a teacher and head football coach at Baker High School for 14 seasons (1972-87), moved to Murphy as an assistant coach from 1989-91 and returned to head coaching at Alba High School from 1992-1997.
His Alba team won the region title in 1994.
Odom’s work as a coach and teacher was just part of his many contributions. He also played a key volunteer role in the development and administration of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game in Mobile from its inception in 1988. He has been a key administrative coach for that game ever since – heading into his 33rd year. He has also served as the South team manager for the Senior Bowl College All-Star Game for the last three decades.
Recognized as one of Mobile County’s most dependable volunteers, he received the prestigious Bob Pannone Service Award in 2017 and was recognized by the L’Arche Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012
JOHNNY ROBERTSON (Contest Official): This Sidney Lanier 1965 graduate has been one of the state’s top basketball officials more than 50 years. Robertson, 71, served in 17 of 18 AHSAA state basketball tournaments from 1982-1999.
Recognized by the his peers and the AHSAA for his teaching skills, he served as AHSAA state rules clinician from 1981-1999, has been a Regional Tournament coordinator ever since the regional and state final four basketball format was instituted in 1994 and has been the South Central District Director for Officials since 1999. He has been serving as State Rules Interpreter since 2008. Robertson helped institute the state officials’ camps and has been the State Camp Director since 2008. He received the AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2008.
Robertson also officiated high school football from 1972-1987, and he officiated baseball from 1972-1974.
Active in church and civic affairs in Montgomery, he has served in various positions of civic leadership including serving as president of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, was Division 9 Lt. Governor for the Kiwanis from 2007-2009 and has also served as president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the River Region.
RONNIE SIKES: A native of Randolph County, Sikes, 59, graduated from Randolph County High School in Wedowee in 1977 and from Auburn University in 1981. He also attended Southern Union Community College and received a master’s degree from Auburn University (1987).
The veteran football coach began his career in high school education in 1981 with stints at Valley High School (1981-1984), Notasulga (1984-1988), Mortimer Jordan (1988-1990), and Beulah (1990-1992) before returning to Notasulga in 1992. He served as head football coach for the Blue Devils for 12 years compiling a 91-51 record. He then moved to Lanett from 2004-2009. He has coached and taught at Georgia public schools since 2013. While at Notasulga his teams compiled a 25-game winning streak with his 2001 team capturing Class 1A state runner-up. He rebuilt the Lanett program in a short time becoming the first coach to lead the Panthers to a 12-win season since former AHSAA Executive Director Dan Washburn, a 2000 Inductee into the HOF, led Lanett to a 12-1 record in 1976.
Sikes coached in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game twice and also coached in the North-South All-Star Game. He was named O-A News Coach of the Year in 1998.
SCHUESSLER WARE: Anniston High School’s long-time boys’ head basketball coach graduated from AHS in 1974 and Talladega College in 1978. He earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Jacksonville State University.
Ware, 60, began teaching and coaching at his high school alma mater in 1979 – spending his entire career with the Anniston City Schools. He became head basketball coach in 1997 and for the next 20 years his teams compiled a 420-168 record with two state championships, the Class 5A title in 2002 and the 4A championship in 2009. Anniston made five State Final Four appearances, five Northeast Regional titles and seven Calhoun County championships during his tenure.
He was chosen Calhoun County Coach of the Year nine times, AHSAA Class 5A (2002) and Class 4A (2009) Coach of the Year, and saw 12 of his teams win 20 or more games in a season. Only one team had a losing record but still won the area title, and two years later the program rebounded to go 27-6 and reach the Northeast Regional tourney.
He is active in his church and community serving as an Elder at First United Presbyterian Church.
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Super 7 State Football Championships will be heading back to Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium Dec. 4-6 for the second year in a row, announced Steve Savarese, AHSAA Executive Director, Sunday.
The seven AHSAA state football championship games have been rotating between the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium and Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium annually since 2009.
“With our upcoming plans to upgrade parts of Bryant-Denny Stadium, we asked Auburn to host the Super 7 again this year, and they generously accepted,” said University of Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne. We will look forward to hosting the Super 7 again in 2020 and want to thank Auburn and everyone involved in helping move this forward.”
Auburn University Athletics Director Allen Greene said Auburn University was glad to be able to accommodate Byrne’s request.
“We are excited about the opportunity to once again welcome the state’s best football teams, their bands, cheerleaders, students and supporters to Jordan-Hare Stadium,” he said. “As they have done so well in the past, our community and local organizing committee will work to provide a great experience for those that travel to our city and campus for this great event.”
Savarese said that from the very beginning he has been amazed at just how well the parties involved have worked together to make the Super 7 such a special event. The Super 7 has rotated with the championships being held at the site not hosting the annual Auburn-Alabama Iron Bowl each year. Jordan-Hare will be the site for the Auburn-Alabama game next December as well.
“The University of Alabama and City of Tuscaloosa asked Auburn to step in and host again this year,” Savarese said. “Auburn University and the Cities of Auburn and Opelika graciously agreed. Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama will host the 2020 Super 7 the following year.
“This partnership rotation between our state’s two finest football stadiums, the cities of Tuscaloosa, Opelika and Auburn and both universities has been outstanding. “Each community and each university have always shown tremendous cooperation working together to provide life-long memories for our student-athletes, member schools and our participating communities from all across this great state.”
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller, Auburn Mayor Ron Anders and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox say they appreciate the opportunity to host the Super 7.
“From the beginning, there has been extraordinary partnership between the universities and our respective cities,” Maddox said. “Together, we take tremendous pride in hosting the AHSAA Super 7. The City of Tuscaloosa is truly appreciative of the willingness of the cities of Auburn and Opelika and Auburn University for going the extra mile to host in 2019. Along with the University of Alabama, we look forward to resuming the schedule in 2020 and showcasing the major upgrades at Bryant-Denny Stadium.”
Mayors Fuller and Anders look forward to the opportunity of hosting the Super 7 for the second straight year.
“The City of Opelika is happy to be part of this incredible team,” Fuller said. “We work side-by-side with Auburn University and the City of Auburn to give the players, fans and parents an experience they surely won’t forget.”
Anders, who was one of the founding members of the group that helped form this Super 7 alliance with the AHSAA in 2009, said he is proud of the way each city and university has worked together to celebrate the achievements of the state’s student-athletes and high schools.
“We’re looking forward to being a part of yet another unforgettable experience at this year’s AHSAA Super 7 at Jordan-Hare,” said Anders. “This event is a testament to the strong bond between Auburn and Tuscaloosa, and we’re grateful for the chance to step in and celebrate our great high school athletes for the second year in a row.”
Don Staley, president and CEO of Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports, manages the Super 7 event locally when it is in Tuscaloosa.
“Although we are disappointed at not being in a position to host this year’s AHSAA Super 7 High School Football Championships, we recognize the importance of enhancements and construction timelines taking place at Bryant Denny Stadium” said Staley. “We appreciate the years of collaboration with Auburn University, Auburn Athletics, City of Auburn and City of Opelika on this project and are indebted for their support in hosting this year’s event.”
A high school coach is an educator who wears many hats. A Hall of Fame coach is one that wears them all well. Meet Reynolds Gwaltney Cook -- Coach R.G. Cook to the hundreds of student-athletes whose lives were changed for the better because of his ability to teach the real lessons that can be learned from educational-based athletics.
Cook, now deceased, is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019. He is going in from the “old timer” category. The banquet will be Monday night, March 18 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. His son Stan Cook is representing his father, accepting on behalf of the Cook family.
A native of Greenville, Alabama, R. G. Cook graduated from Montgomery’s Sidney Lanier High School in 1933 and from Troy State Teachers College (now Troy University) in 1950. He later earned a master’s degree in education from Auburn University.
Cook began his teaching and coaching career at Williams School, a private prep school in Montgomery. He started the athletic program and was head basketball coach from 1950-52.
He moved to Union Springs in 1952 – where he remained at Bullock County High School in some capacity through 1974. During that span he coached football, basketball, baseball and track. His 1956 football team was 10-0, and he was named the Birmingham Post-Herald Class 1A Coach of the Year. In 1957, he extended the winning streak to 19 games before losing a close game to Abbeville in the Peanut Bowl at Dothan. He was selected to coach in the AHSAA North-South All-star football game in Tuscaloosa in 1957.
Cook resigned as football coach in 1962, focusing on the basketball and baseball teams. His teams won more than 250 games in basketball with his 1963-64 and 1964-65 teams both going 23-0 in the regular season.
In baseball, his teams had signature wins over much larger schools such as Sidney Lanier and Central-Phenix City. He helped arrange for Union Springs to be an annual host of the Lions Club East-West all-star baseball game for Southeast Alabama.
Cook received numerous Coach of the Year Awards in various sports and helped organize the Central Alabama Conference for small schools Central Alabama.
After leaving the classroom and coaching field, he served as Bullock County Schools’ superintendent from 1968-74.
Hall of Fame member Ken Blankenship recalled his relationship with Coach Cook. “In the early 1950s, I had the opportunity to compete against Coach Cook’s teams, and later he served as a mentor to me as I began my high school coaching career,” Blankenship said. “It was through his positive, caring influence that I learned it was an honor to have the opportunity to work with young people and an obligation to guide them as their lives were developing.”
J. Carlton Smith, who became a school superintendent himself, said Cook taught him the importance of priorities.
“He taught me how to relate to high school kids,” said Smith, who served as an assistant to Cook at Bullock County High School. “R.G. was demanding of his players but gained their respect and admiration. He was an outstanding, winning coach, but winning was never his first priority. In his calm, low-key manner in dealing with teenage athletes, his first priority was always to teach his kids to be good citizens, to follow the rules, and to become strong, confident men.”
Smith recalled an incident in which Cook’s character came to the forefront dramatically. “A former athlete, a senior named Benny Johnson, dropped out of school because he was still struggling with ninth-grade English,” Smith said. “He found that the local supermarket where he worked would not keep him on because he was not a high school graduate. Cook persuaded him to return to school, attending Bullock County during the day and going to Montgomery to study English at the Williams School at night. He eventually graduated.”
But the story did not end there, Smith said. “Johnson developed a rare form of arthritis that would eventually cost him his eyesight.” He went to Cook and said, “What am I going to do? I have a wife and baby. How can I support them when I am blind?” Coach Cook was active in the Lions Club and its sight conservation mission. He took Johnson to Talladega and helped him enroll in the School for the Blind. There, he acquired the skills to operate a small business without sight and was able to provide for his family.
“This is (just one) example of how R.G. Cook loved his students and the extra help he provided. This was far above what could be expected. That is the kind of coach, educator and person he was.
“A Hall of Fame coach should be many things. He should be a person who develops young men. He teaches them to be solid, confident adults. He teaches them how to become leaders. He teaches them to always follow the rules. He teaches them to be contributing team members. He teaches them that they can achieve their goals through teamwork. He teaches them to be loyal and dedicated to their team and their teammates. He teaches them right from wrong, and he teaches them how to win and how to lose.”
Smith said that Coach R. G. Cook meets all requirements as a Hall of Fame coach.
“The best indicator is the love and pride he had for all his players and the love and devotion they still have for him to this day. Yes, he was a winning coach, but he was so much more than that. He was a father figure for hundreds of young men who became better adults because of his love and quiet leadership by example.”
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