Media Day: Local football players meet with reporters

As football season nears, coaches and players preview seasons

By Cole McNanna
Sports Editor
cole@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 7/18/22

Representatives of the local football members of the Alabama High School Athletic Association met with the media in Trojan Hall at Daphne High School last Wednesday, July 13, to discuss the upcoming season.

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Media Day: Local football players meet with reporters

As football season nears, coaches and players preview seasons

Posted

Representatives of the local football members of the Alabama High School Athletic Association met with the media in Trojan Hall at Daphne High School last Wednesday, July 13, to discuss the upcoming season.

The head coach and at least two players from 11 schools previewed the upcoming season at the Baldwin County Media Day hosted by AL.com.

For a more in-depth look into the local football teams, stay tuned for the Gulf Coast Media Fall Sports Preview tab. Until then, the coaches provided the state of their programs coming out of the summer.

Fairhope's Tim Carter enters his eighth year as the Pirates' head coach and will look to senior classmates Caden Creel (quarterback) and Qualin McCants (running back) to help power the offense. Although Fairhope only lost its season-opening game last year, it fell in the first round of the playoffs so those seniors are joined by plenty with unfinished business on their minds.

As a former Daphne Trojan, seventh-year head coach Kenny King knows what it takes to win in the Jubilee City and his team has evidenced that by winning at least four region games each of the last seven years. He was joined by an offensive threat in senior wide receiver Stacey Boykins as well as senior defensive leaders in lineman Johnnie Perdue and linebacker Garrett Childress in planning out a return course to the postseason.

Although it is only entering its fifth season of varsity play, Elberta High School was only one student away from moving up to Class 6A in the recent reclassification.

Still, Head Coach Nathan McDaniel sees this Warrior squad as being the fastest he's seen entering his third year at the helm where he oversaw the team's transition from Class 1A to 5A. Part of that speed was present in senior wide receiver and defensive back Tyshaun Washington, although he was interviewed with a boot on his left leg due to a sprained ankle – he won't miss the start of the football season. He was joined by his 6-foot, 275-pound classmate and center Cason White who helps provide the time needed for Washington and the offensive weapons to do their thing.

The Baldwin County Tigers returned to the playoffs last year for the first time since 2007 and won their first postseason game for the first time since 2003 in Scott Rials' second year at the helm. Entering his third year in Bay Minette, the squad not only has its sights set on the playoffs but now knows what it takes to get back there again. They'll be helped by seniors Ky McNulty (wide receiver, committed to Troy) and DJ Jackson (defensive back).

The St. Michael Catholic Cardinals got the monkey off their backs last year and claimed their first region win in their fifth varsity season. Although they narrowly missed the playoffs, second-year head coach Philip Rivers has injected new life into the offense that registered its first 300-point season last year and has plans on reaching it again. Senior running back Ezra Sexton will look to factor into scoring points while classmate and linebacker Clay Barr is focused on stopping the other teams from doing just that.

Plenty of firsts in Orange Beach coming up; first year as a city school and first year at the helm for three-time state champion coach Jamey DuBose who won twice at 6A Prattville and once at 7A Central Phenix City. Now he and the Makos will take on Class 4A in their third year of varsity competition fresh off their first postseason appearance last year. Seniors Chris Pearson (athlete) and Trace Clayton (linebacker) will now be looking for Orange Beach's first playoff victory.

Entering his 26th year coaching and 16th at Bayside Academy, Phil Lazenby sits only six wins shy of 200 for his career. He and the Admirals will join the Orange Beach Makos in Class 4A after competing in Class 3A since 2008. Senior running back Jacob Stewart and classmate and linebacker Cooper White said they looked forward to the new challenges the new opponents will present.

Longtime college coach Mark Hudspeth has had little difficulties adjusting to the high school scene where he's set up a college-style program in Gulf Shores, complete with other former college coaches as assistants. The Dolphins have also added to their depth and will now have only three two-way starters compared to eight last year.

Gulf Shores senior running back JR Gardner will complement Ronnie Royal in the backfield alongside new left-handed quarterback Brendon Bryd, dubbed the "White Michael Vick," by senior defensive lineman Caidyn Clark who now enjoys being teammates with him instead of hunting down the former Spanish Fort quarterback.

Although the Robertsdale Golden Bears may throw the ball a bit more this year, they'll still operate out of the Wing-T formation, the three yards and a pile of dust, run-first offense that was traditionally a thorn in the side of head coach Kyle Stanford when he was a defensive coordinator. Now entering his fourth year at the helm of the program, he was joined by senior wide receiver Braydon Davis who will be one of the deep threats in the passing game. Davis continually practices against cornerback Christian Abrams who will look to lead the defense yet again.

Even though Chase Smith is only entering his fourth year as a head coach, his roots have been in Spanish Fort where he was an assistant from 2007-2010 and was part of the Toros' state championship run the last season. Now he returns to Spanish Fort after starting the Orange Beach program and resumes "The Toro Way," that's also known well by the now-leaders of the Toros. A pair of them, seniors Josiah Hixon (safety) and Jake Godfrey (wide receiver), shared their excitement for Smith's return and looked forward to carrying the torch.

Hixon also said the Spanish Fort defense has been looking outstanding through the summer and he expected shutouts in all of the Toros' games.

Heading into his third year as the Foley Lions' head coach, Deric Scott has understood that the Foley program has always developed its talent. Now that talent is ready to take the next step and make the Lions' first playoff appearance since 2015 although Scott also knows Foley has to be the king of its own backyard and take care of business within the region before it can go around worrying about a postseason. Senior quarterback Reece Tynes will look to weapons like wide receiver Harrison Knight to help facilitate the offense.

Be on the lookout for the Gulf Coast Media Fall Sports Preview coming up.

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