Just from our conversation, it reminded me that our county – as well as our area – is well respected around the state when it comes to high school athletics, particularly football. The list of reasons is plentiful.
Out of the seven teams in our coverage area, three have won football state titles (Sand Rock in 1985, Cherokee County and Piedmont in 2009). Three have also been state runners-up (Cherokee County in 1984, 2005 and 2008; Sand Rock in 1997; Cedar Bluff in 2006).
Just last season, we had five of our teams make the state playoffs. Piedmont made it the furthest, reaching the Class 3A state semifinals before bowing out to state runner-up Hamilton. Cedar Bluff lost in the second round at Class 1A state runner-up R.A. Hubbard, and Cherokee County lost in the first round at Class 4A state runner-up Deshler.
Collinsville won the Class 1A, Region 7 title last year, and Gaylesville also qualified for the playoffs.
While not playoff qualifiers last year, Sand Rock and Spring Garden have also tasted success on the football field the past few seasons. Sand Rock has made the playoffs seven times since 2000, including a region championship in 2008. Spring Garden has made the playoffs in two of the previous three seasons.
There’s no reason to think all seven of our football teams won’t have a shot at contending for a championship in 2011.
I bring this all up to make a point: The road to state championships goes through here. We may not always have a state championship team, but whichever teams do earn them, their paths more often than not go through the area at some point.
And that in itself is something to be proud.
As you may have already guessed, the theme to this year’s Pigskin Preview is “The Road to Championships Begin Here.”
A special thanks goes out to The Herald’s layout designer Laure Clemons for the cover design. Another special thank you goes out to advertising director Vickie Robinson for selling ads to our local businesses, all of who helped make this football preview possible.
As with any publication, photos are essential, and I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to photographers Tony Russell, Herald Editor Terry Dean, and The Anniston Star’s Trent Penny and Steve Gross for their contributions to this special section.
I also want to thank all of our players and coaches for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk about the upcoming season. I wish you all success throughout the year.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to extend my sincere thanks to you, our readers, for your continued support of The Herald.
I hope you all enjoy reading our 2011 football season preview.