The Alabama High School Media Days kicked off this past Tuesday at the Opelika Bottling Plant Center. 23 high schools made an appearance over the two-day conference in addition to appearances by AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs and AISA Director Roddie Beck. Auburn High School and Lee-Scott Academy’s coaches and a handful of their respective players were among those in attendance. Below is what community members can look forward to under the Friday night lights this fall:
Auburn High School
The Auburn High Tigers are looking to have another strong season under head coach Keith Etheredge. The upcoming season will be Etheredge’s second season with the Tigers as he looks to improve even more after a 10-3 season last year.
Etheredge has quite the roster of players with 164 kids involved in football from 10th to 12th grades. With 41 seniors, the Tigers biggest strength may be experience.
One of the highlights of the team, according to Etheredge, is the offensive line. He said it is “one of the best offensive lines I’ve ever coached.” This is in part because of senior lineman Bradyn Joiner, who believes that the Tigers' offensive is stacked more than it's ever been.
“We have so many weapons on offensive. Behind the strong line, you also have two great quarterbacks,” said Joiner.
Senior quarterback Clyde Pittman returns under center for the Tigers. He's got high expectations for the Tigers this season.
“I think we're looking real good," he said. "Our chemistry is a lot better than last year. Everyday we're going to the weight room and working hard and we just definitely got some dudes on offense, for sure.”
One thing many community members look forward to is the annual rivalry game between Auburn and Opelika. Now that Opelika High has moved up to 7A, the game holds a lot more significance as it affects playoff rankings and seeding.
“I've been a part of some great rivalries, you know, battle of Murder Creek,” said Etheredge. “You know, some really good rivalries and I think the Auburn/Opelika rivalry is right up there with the top rivalries in the state, so we’re going to take that game very, very seriously. You know, it's right across town."
2022 AHS Schedule
• 8/19 – 7 p.m. Hoover
• 8/26 – 7 p.m. @ Enterprise (Enterprise)
• 9/2 – 7 p.m. Dothan
• 9/9 – 7 p.m. Jefferson Davis (Montgomery)
• 9/16 – 7 p.m. @ Lee (Montgomery)
• 9/23 – 7 p.m. Ramsay (Birmingham)
• 9/30 – 7 p.m. Opelika (Opelika)
• 10/14 – 7 p.m. @ Central (Phenix City)
• 10/21 – 7 p.m. @ Prattville (Prattville)
• 10/28 – 7 p.m. Smiths Station (Smiths Station)
The upcoming season will be head coach Buster Daniel's third with the Warriors. After an impressive 8-3 run last year, excitement from the coaching staff and the players is at an all-time high.
In the first game last season, Chambers Academy stormed over the Warriors 41-3 and left many expecting another repeat of their 2-7 season in 2021. Lee-Scott had other plans, though, and came out to play against rival Glenwood in game two. After a long, hard-fought game, the Warriors survived with a 23-22 victory and carried that momentum throughout the season. Lee-Scott went on to win seven in a row and ended the season with an 8-3 record, making it to the playoff semifinals.
“Nobody gave us a chance to win that game, except us and these players. They decided they wanted to win. We played hard,” said Daniel. “Winning that game sparked our football team. We won eight games at the start of that one game. It just lit a fire under them.”
The Warriors will look to start the upcoming season with a fire under them again as they face Chambers Academy on the road away to open the season. This rematch is a critical game for the Warriors to show just how much they have improved since last year. With 18 seniors and 16 returning players, Daniel has a perfect balance of experience and maturity.
Lee-Scott will also look to have a more complete football team, where players do not have to have play both sides of the ball as much. The Warriors have 21 additional players on the roster than last year, a testimony for what Daniel has done for the program. Even with the extra bodies on the sidelines, Daniel insisted that he would be playing his best players, even if that means on both sides of the ball sometimes.
Senior Ryan Dearing will be returning at quarterback for the Warriors after sharing the position last year with former quarterback Tate McKelvey. This year, Dearing will be the sole quarterback for the team and while McKelvey’s game was run-heavy, Dearing looks to play as both a dominating pass and running player.
In Dearing’s own words, “Tate was always thinking run first and I mainly think pass first. I will run, of course, but my first look is to maybe get the ball out on a roll-off. I am just excited to get the chance to show how far I’ve come and am very confident about this team heading into the season.”
One other thing on Daniel’s radar is the 3A division re-classification that happened during the offseason. There are currently only eight teams in the AISA 3A division, meaning that the schedule has changed so that each team will play every team once. This means that Lee-Scott will play all seven region opponents and three bonus non-region teams.
2022 LSA Schedule
• 8/19 – 7 p.m. @ Chambers Academy (LaFayette)
• 9/2 – 7 p.m.@ Monroe Academy (Monroeville)
• 9/9 – 7 p.m. @ Morgan Academy (Selma)
• 9/16– 8 p.m. Glenwood (Phenix City)
• 9/23 – 7 p.m.@ Macon-East Montgomery Academy (Cecil)
• 9/30 – 7 p.m. Autauga Academy (Prattville)
• 10/7 – 7 p.m. @ Bessemer Academy (Bessemer)
• 10/14 – 7 p.m. Valiant Cross Academy (Montgomery)
• 10/21 – 7 p.m. Fort Dale Academy (Greenville)
• 10/28 – 7 p.m. Edgewood Academy (Elmore)