The Athens Golden Eagles won the 5A state title behind the strong play of seniors such as two-time All-State quarterback, Rob Ezell, who is now a walk-on quarterback at the University of Alabama, Alfred McCollough (Alabama), Jacquez Pride (Tuskegee), Karlos Jones (UT-Martin).
Most of the state title team has been lost to graduation, and this season will have a lot of new faces in the starting line up.
“We appreciate the vote of confidence, but we realize we have a hard road to travel to return to Birmingham,” Coach Allen Creasy said of his young team.
No.2 Briarwood Christian
Briarwood returns all their skill position players from their 2006 play-off team. Quarterback Barrett Trotter is among the leading signal callers in the state, while Mississippi State commitment Bo Walters will anchor the defense from his linebacker position.
The offensive and defensive lines will have some holes to fill, but the potential for a run at the state title is in place.
Russellville is a top program in northwest Alabama, and the Golden Tigers are once again loaded with talent. However, Russellville has more questions than answers at this point in the season.
While returning one of the best running backs in the state of Alabama in Michael Abernathy, along with senior quarterback Corey Trapp, the Tigers are learning a new system under new head coach Doug Goodwin.
The offense will also miss Taz Tillery (UT-Martin) and Kirby Nelson, who took the pressure off Abernathy last season.
The defense has plenty of talent with Caleb Mitchell, Korey Suggs and other returning starters, but lock-down corner, Rashad Graham is now playing at Southern Illinois. Defensive end Brett Young was also lost to graduation.
No.4 St. Paul's
St Paul’s is the favorite pre-season pick to represent the southern region in the Super Six, and why not? They have three players committed to the University of Alabama in Ivan Matchett, Destin Hood and Mark Barron, not to mention who many believe as the top quarterback prospect in the state for the 2009 prospect list, AJ McCarron. To make a long story short we could write two pages about Saint Paul’s talent alone. This team is set for a run at the state title.
No.5 J.O. Johnson
Johnson is much talked about out of the northern region of the state, and they are loaded with talent. Not as well known as the St Paul’s quartet, but Johnson will feature a strong defense led by Jomarcus Savage among a host of others. Savage has offers from Tennessee, Auburn and Southern Mississippi. There’s also talk of a new linebacker who has caught the eye of college recruiters.
The offense is led by quarterback David Isabelle, who is recruited by colleges around the south. Jontavious President is an athlete who holds at least one offer (Ole Miss), while Jimmy Vaughn is one of the most under rated running backs in north Alabama. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this team ended up in Birmingham to face the champion from the south.
Another traditional power in south Alabama has won multiple state titles in class 4A. They lost Brandon Gibson (Alabama), and Terrell Edwards (Marshall) from last year’s team, but Coach Terry Curtis always has his team in the mix.
Eufaula is another team loaded with talented players such as Courtney Upshaw (Alabama verbal), Kendrick Dennis (cornerback), Xavier Crews (running back/full back), Desmond Thomas and other college prospect littering the field.
Eufaula fell short of a state title in 2006, but they are talented enough to challenge anyone in the state. Look for their defense to be second to none.
Demopolis is three years removed from their last state title, and they’re looking to make a run at another. Demopolis is a team always loaded with talent, and this season is no exception.
The Hartselle Tigers, led by Coach Bob Godsey, lost a lot of talent from a team that was one interception from playing in the title game in 2006. However, all is not lost as talented running back, Marquez Jones returns to carry the Tigers on offense after losing starting quarterback Wes Chenault to graduation. Marquez Jones will join his brother anchoring a strong defensive backfield for Godsey's 2007 team.
McAdory is led by their talented defense in 2007 with Nathaniel Armisted (DT), Brandon Dow (CB), Marcus Jemison (S) and Alvin Nash (LB). The Yellow Jackets will look to get back into the play-offs this season.
No.11 Benjamin Russell
Benjamin Russell lost to Hartselle in the opening round of the 5A play-offs a year ago. They will look to improve on their 2006 season returning a strong defense. The biggest shoes to fill are those of Eltoro Freeman (Auburn).
Vigor rounds out our top 12 coaches' picks to start the pre-season. Vigor's Burton Scott (Alabama verbal) will try to lead his team back to the state play-offs in 2007. Scott is rated a four-star receiver by Scout.com.
Scott is one of the most exciting athletes for the class of 2008. He rushed for 1,070 yards with 11 touchdowns, 1,059 yards passing with eight touchdowns and 12 catches for 353 yards and one touchdown. Scott's all-purpose yards totaled 2,701 and ended the year with 21 touchdowns. He has a 40-inch vertical jump.
Others receiving votes:
Decatur, Fort Payne, Gardendale, Shelby County, Williamson, Talladega, Cullman, B.C. Rain, Bibb County, Charles Henderson, Wilcox Central, Carroll, Woodlawn, Etowah, Jess Lanier, Pleasant Grove, Greenville and West End Birmingham.
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Class 5A Schedules