The Auburn High football team will start its preparations for another grueling march through perhaps the toughest regions in 7A football on Monday with the start of fall camp.
The Tigers daunting Region 2 schedule will pit them against reigning state champion Central-Phenix City, Smiths Station, Lee, Prattville, Jeff Davis and Enterprise — a slate the Tigers finished 5-1 against last season.
"I just think the league itself is the SEC of Alabama," said Auburn High head coach Adam Winegarden. "I think it’s one of the top leagues in the Southeast. There’s not a week that you’re going to look at your schedule and think that that’s just a ‘W’ sitting there. Every week you’re going to have to prepare to play and compete to win."
Auburn High will try to run the gauntlet with about five starters returning on each side of the ball.
"If you look at most teams throughout the state that have consistent success, they’re going to have to replace like five to six a year, and that’s kind of where we’re at," said Winegarden.
The Tigers will need to find a leader under center in fall camp, though, after the graduation of Griffin Speaks.
"That position is vital for our team, not just from a play-making standpoint but also from a ball-protection standpoint," said Winegarden of the quarterback position. "We have two guys that are battling right now for that spot in Patrick McGlon and Matthew Caldwell."
The strength of the Tigers' team will once again be the defense, though. Last year, the Tigers' gave up under 11 points a game, and registered four shutouts.
The defense will led be led by senior cornerback Omari Porter, who committed to Stanford last month. Porter's coming off a 2018 season where he made 25 tackles, broke up 11 passes and made two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
"This offseason has been more about the team and how I'm trying to prepare them and the other leaders on the team to be at the same mindset that we had last year," he said at High School Football Media Days last week. "We fell short of that, but I feel like this year we have enough talent and the pieces to do that. All of my focus has really been geared to making my team better and bringing them up with me as I get better so we all get better as a team."
Auburn High will have three weeks to prepare in fall camp before opening the season Aug. 23 at home against Wilcox Central.