No.1 -- Prattville Lions
Senior quarterback Casey Weston (6-3, 205-pounds) will look to fill the shoes of 2006 Alabama's Mr. Football Larry Smith (Vanderbilt). The Lions have experience all over the rest of the field. The very talented running backs are senior Justin Albert (5-8, 170-pounds), junior Desmond Haley (5-11, 180-pounds) and senior Lewis Haley (5-9, 165-pounds) and senior leading receiver Dekendrick Moncrief (6-1, 175-pounds).
Head Coach Bill Clark
2006 Record 15-0 State Champions
Prattville appears loaded with talent offensively, but the defense really shines. The group is led by junior linebacker La'Angelo Albright (5-11, 195-pounds). Albright will make offenses pay with his take-no-prisoners style of play.
There is a great chance this pre-season No.1 ranking will remain in the same position at the end of the regular season. Prattville, also ranked No.8 in USA Today's National Top 25, will look for a national title along with a state title in 2007.
The Lions will have to get through a tough Carver Montgomery, and the phoenix of 6A football Coach L.C. Cole's Sidney Lanier, but their toughest obstacle of the regular season may come on September 28 when they face Coach Spence McCracken's hungry Bulldogs of Opelika.
The Lions will open up Friday night at Theodore and begin region play September 7 when Carver Montgomery comes to call.
No. 2 – Hoover Bucs
Head Coach Rush Propst
2006 Record 14-1 State Champion runner-up
The second ranked Bucs made short work of 6A Dothan in their scrimmage game last Friday night. Merciless would be a good term to use as they drowned the Tigers 47-6. Both quarterbacks, junior Simon Propst (5-10, 175-pounds) and senior Tyler Ray (5-10, 170), got playing time and both threw two touchdown passes. It is unclear how Coach Propst plans to play these two, but rotating them is a good possibility.
There is no question this is a rebuilding year for Hoover having lost several top players to graduation. However, a rebuilding year at schools like Hoover and Prattville are more of reloading. They are not starting from scratch. Hoover has excellent junior varsity programs and when they reach the varsity level Coach Propst and his outstanding coaching staff will have them ready to play some tough 6A football in the toughest region in the state. This team could be in a position to take back their title.
Hoover will travel to Cincinnati for the prestigious Herbstreit Classic to take on hometown Colerain. The Cardinals went 13-1 last season and this should be a very good game and test for the Bucs.
Hoover's march to the state championship will open with Carver and quickly toughen when they face rival Coach John Grass’ Spain Park Jaguars the following week. The Jaguars gave the Bucs a scare in the first half of last year’s game, and this is a better team.
No.3 – Vestavia Hills Rebels
Head Coach Buddy Anderson
2006 Record 11-3
Coach Buddy Anderson is one of the most prestigious and respected coaches in the state, and he has a team that can compete for the region 6 title and possibly the 6A state championship.
Senior running back Justin Rogers (5-11, 185-pounds) has offers from Alabama, Clemson, LSU and UCLA. The speedy back won the 55M state indoor title earlier this year with a time of 6.58 seconds. Rogers rushed for over 2,100 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2006.
This is a rebuilding year for the Rebels on the offensive line having lost one of the best blocking tight ends Coach Anderson had seen in his 29 years coaching, Chris Underwood (Alabama). Also lost to graduation is offensive lineman Thomas Gray (Samford).
Defense has never been a problem for Vestavia and look for another great matchup October 12 when Vestavia takes the short trip to Hoover to try and atone for a game they should have been won in 2006.
The Rebels will open against the ranked 5A Briarwood Christian and begin region play the following week when they visit Oak Mountain September 7.
No.4 -- Daphne Trojans
Head Coach Glenn Vickery
2006 Record 9-3
Daphne is in such capable and confident hands with Coach Glenn Vickery you just know they will put forth a great team every year. This one is no different.
Senior Coley White (6-1, 170-pounds) is the quarterback for the Trojans taking the reins from Chris Lambeth (Arkansas State). White started one game in 2006 that Lambeth missed in the post-season. He led the Trojans to a victory in the first round of the play-offs over Smiths Station. The younger brother of West Virginia University's standout quarterback Pat White already holds offers from the same University along with several others.
In the year of the running back in Alabama, senior Reggie Hunt (5-10 185-pounds) is one to watch. The Auburn verbal commitment recorded 709 yards on 72 carries in 2006 with 12 touchdowns. He was also awarded honorable mention All-State.
The Trojans also have 6-6 305-pound senior Teavis Durgin at offensive tackle. The big man already has offers from LSU, Tennessee and West Virginia. Look for him to open lanes for Hunt.
Daphne starts their season with two non-region games, 5A B.C. Rain and Mitchell High School out of Memphis, Tennessee. Add that to the scrimmage game they played against Theodore last week, which resulted in a 36-3 victory, and you will have a very experienced team facing their first region opponent in Coach Kelly's Satsuma Gators the third week of the season.
Look for the Daphne-Foley rivalry showcased on ESPN2, Thursday night October 4. The rest of the country will learn of the excitement those of us following high school football in Alabama already know well.
No.5 – Opelika Bulldogs
Head Coach Spence McCracken
2006 Record 12-2
The Opelika Bulldogs lost just two games in 2006, the commonality being both losses were handed to them by Prattville, the eventual state champion. The Bulldogs are ranked fifth in the Coaches Poll and anyone who caught a glimpse of them this spring at the Foley jamboree would question why so low. The Bulldogs return zero starters on offense, but will have five returners on defense. The team does include 30 seniors.
Coach McCracken is a stickler for details, and if you play football for his 'Dogs you better take care that you do things the right way, and do it timely. The longtime Alabama high school coach is turning out great football teams, but he takes pride in his school's ability to turn out good men, feeling the football part will follow.
Senior quarterback Brooks Robinson is the starter for 2007. He led the Bulldogs in a jamboree victory over a talented Davidson squad, with very few mistakes.
Opelika is on the smaller size on the offensive line, but as McCracken will tell you they make up for it with heart. The secondary is held down by four seniors who will most likely become the leaders of this team, Zach Blatt, Mike Love, K.R. Snipes and Charles Johnson.
Look for Opelika to take a deep run into the play-offs if not all the way. McCracken is set to retire in a couple of years. He would like nothing more than to bring the state championship home to southeast Alabama, and the school where he has made such an impact on young men's lives.
Opelika opens the season against former player Coach Larry Ware and his Carver Montgomery Wolverines. Opelika's latter four regional games should be their toughest with the improving Smiths Station and Central Phenix City. Enterprise is up next and then rival Auburn High School. The Bulldogs' out-of-region schedule is one of the toughest in the state, aside from Carver, they will play state champions Prattville and the No.7 ranked Tuscaloosa County to close out the year.
No.6 (tie) – Spain Park Jaguars
Head Coach John Grass
2006 Record 6-4
Coach John Grass’ No.6 ranked Spain Park team has the pieces in place to make a run for the region 6 title which is no easy task in a region that four of the other members are also in the top 12 with a fifth knocking on the door.
Mr. Everything, Justin Diliberto has graduated, so Grass will have several spots to fill that Diliberto handled. Senior quarterback Cody Wells (6-0, 185-pounds) will lead the offense which includes the ultra impressive offensive lineman 6-7, 260-pound senior and Tulane verbal commitment Eric Jones. Senior center Jeff Benson (6-1, 273-pounds) is a part of one of the bigger offensive lines in class 6A.
The defense will see the highly recruited senior defensive end William Green (6-4, 215-pounds) lead them. Green has numerous scholarship offers including Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Florida State.
Spain Park went a scrappy 6-4 in 2006. This season they seem to have more experience and talent and with another year under Coach Grass’ tutelage you have to think they will show a big improvement from last year and win some of their games by daylight.
The Jaguars start the season at home hosting a tough Pelham squad that should compete for the title in their region (5). They will host Mountain Brook on September 7 to open regional play, and mark your calendars for this game.
No.6 (tie) – Foley Lions
Head Coach Todd Watson
2006 Record 10-2
Foley High School comes in ranked sixth and Coach Watson has the grand prize as far as individual talent goes. Senior wide receiver Julio Jones (6-4, 210-pounds) is one of the best players in the country and one of the best to ever play Alabama high school football. The question remains if quarterback Devin Smith can deliver the ball to Julio like Roosevelt Byrd. Watson tells ScoutSouth.com Smith has jumped in with both feet and knows how important he is for this team.
Foley also has another talented receiver playing his second year--senior Michael Washington (6-1, 180-pounds). Defensively, Foley has senior Robert Lester (6-2, 205-pounds) at defensive back. The coaches believe Lester will have a stellar campaign.
Foley will start the season with a tough non-region opponent, Murphy High School. The Lions won't have time to shake off any cobwebs. This Murphy team may surprise a lot of folks this year and wind up further in the play-offs than many envisioned. Definitely a great first game matchup many will want to see on Saturday. Foley will play a regional game against Satsuma the following week.
No.8 – Tuscaloosa County Wildcats
Head Coach Robert Higgenbotham
2006 Record 6-5
Tuscaloosa County slides into the eighth spot under the leadership of Robert Higginbotham. With Coach Higginbotham you can count on a very competitive team to step on the field each week. Coach Higginbotham played with a lot of youth in 2006.
Quarterback Brett Booth (5-11, 190-pounds) racked up almost 2,000 yards passing. With a year under his belt, the junior is the possible answer to the question of Tuscaloosa County's 2007 season. Higginbotham has a handful of running backs to choose from, but junior Jerome Brown (5-11, 190-pounds) was his go-to guy in 2006 and will probably see a lot of playing time in 2007.
Alabama verbal commitment John Michael Bowell (6-6, 300-pounds) will play left tackle for the Wildcats. His size and talent will most likely dominate a lot of competition this season.
County will look to improve from last season's 6-5 record that saw some tough luck losses. The Coaches Poll indicates the opposition feels the talent and coaching is in place for them to do just that.
Tuscaloosa County will open with Minor at home and then play region opponent Northridge the following week.
McGill-Toolen ranks ninth in the poll, and after losing head coach Steve Savarese and players like Phelon Jones (LSU) and Sidell Corley (LSU) they are bound to have some growing pains.
No.9 – McGill-Toolen Catholic Yellow Jackets
Head Coach Keith Powell
2006 Record 11-1
The defensive squad is led by seniors defensive end Glenn Harbin (6-5, 235-pounds) who holds numerous scholarship offers; linebacker Justin Pritchard (5-11, 210-pounds) who recorded 86 tackles, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions in 2006; linebacker Adrien Cole (5-10, 218-pounds) who was awarded honorable mention All-State by the ASWA in 2006.
The offense will return senior running back Torian Russell (5-10, 170-pounds) who rushed for 1,349 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2006. Senior Peters Drey (6-6, 260-pounds) returns at offensive tackle. Drey holds a scholarship offer Purdue University.
McGill-Toolen will open their season against Coach Terry Curtis’ ever tough 5A UMS-Wright who is looking to avenge the 2006 loss. They will begin regional play the following week at M.T. Blount.
No.10 – Gadsden City Titans
Head Coach Joe Billingsley
2006 Record 9-2
Gadsden City comes in at No.10 in the Coaches Poll. Coach Billingsley's squad was a defensive power in 2006, and with senior linebacker Jerrell Harris (6-3, 215-pounds) returning don't look for that to change. Harris holds scholarship offers from coast-to-coast, and every college coach wants him on their dance card. Junior cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (6-2, 180-pounds) returns and reports offers from Florida and other Division-1 schools. He is definitely a player to watch in 2007.
Mr. Excitement, Junior Gray, graduated with the Titans needing to fill those shoes.
The Titans took on 6A Thompson in a jamboree game last week and came away with an 8-0 win. The defensive juggernaut allowed the Eagles zero first downs in the first 12 minutes of play and only two in the second quarter. The question for Gadsden is if they can produce an offense to match the defense.
Gadsden will open against a 5A rival in Coach Gene Hill's Etowah Blue Devils. The Titans will begin regional play the following week against Huffman.
Coach Ronn Lee's squad is not sneaking up on anybody in Mobile. They all expect Murphy to once again remain a tough competitor in region one. Senior linebacker Jacoby Thomas (6-0, 200-pounds) recorded 125 tackles including 15 for a loss of yardage, three interceptions, two blocked punts and eight sacks in 2006. Harris has numerous scholarship offers.
No. 11 – Homewood Patriots
Head Coach Dickey Wright
2006 Record 8-5
The No.11 Homewood Patriots lost Coach Bob Newton on the field, but he remains as the athletic director for the school. Head coach Dickey Wright did an exemplary job as the interim coach under those conditions plus moving from 5A to 6A competition has taken on the job.
Homewood lost a defensive standout in Kenneth Dorsey (University of Louisiana-Monroe), but look for the Patriots to field an excellent defensive squad after a 33-0 shutout of 5A John Carroll last week in their jamboree game.
The Pats have senior quarterback David Hayes (6-2, 175-pounds) and senior running back Charles Yarbrough (5-10, 195-pounds). Yarbrough accounted for 169 yards and two touchdowns last week against John Carroll.
Homewood is possibly a sleeper in here. They managed to get to the third round of the play-offs in 2006 before losing to Hoover. This is the toughest region in the state, but Homewood could certainly earn one of the play-off spots and make their presence felt in the post-season.
Homewood begins region play against Minor September 7.
No.12 – Murphy Panthers
Head Coach Ronn Lee
2006 Record 9-3
Murphy's season ended with a second round play-off loss to Opelika.
The Panthers will open their season against the No.6 Foley Lions and start region play September 7 against Coach Fred Riley's Davidson.
Others receiving votes:
Coach Jay Brown's Pell City team had a very productive season in 2006 with a 7-4 record. Their three regular season losses included a double overtime loss to Gadsden City and a seven point loss to Oxford. Their first round opponent was Hoover and the Panthers didn't fare well. Senior standouts returning are defensive lineman Ryan Dudchock (6-4, 245-pounds) and quarterback Bronson Honeycutt (6-1, 175-pounds).
Sidney Lanier: Coach L.C. Cole has righted this ship and may surprise some people in 2007.
Enterprise: Coach Kevin Collins will pull this team together for an emotional home opener against 5A Carroll. This is more than a sentimental team, this team has some wins in them with talent like senior tight end Ken Adams (6-5, 215-pounds ) who holds a scholarship offer from Auburn University.
Huntsville: Coach Kevin Wieseman will field a team that includes Alabama verbal commitment senior safety Wesley Neighbors (6-1, 210-pounds) and will once again compete for their region title.
Pelham: Coach Brent Burnett's team impressed in their jamboree game and will put together a good team in 2007 competing for their region title.
Stanhope Elmore: The Mustangs made it to the first round in 2006 going 7-4 for the season.
Clay-Chalkville: Coach Brent Smith takes over the reins and will do so with senior quarterback standout Jesse Carroll (6-1, 190-pounds) who led the team to a 9-2 season.
Mountain Brook: Coach Chris Yeager picks up an off-season prize with the enrollment of senior quarterback Morgan Ogilvie (6-0, 185 pounds), son of University of Alabama standout Major Ogilvie. Senior offensive lineman Tyler Love (6-7, 285-pounds) is a verbal commitment to the Capstone will help make the Spartans contenders in region 6.
Oxford, Central-Phenix City, Bob Jones and Sparkman round out the selections.
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