By D. Mark Mitchell

Sports Columnist

Both the OHS girls and boys basketball teams lost to Central in Phenix City last Friday night.
The girls are 2-3 after five games, while the boys have a 1-1 record.
Coaches Devin Booth and John Wadsworth each lost several key seniors from last year’s squads to graduation. Each team returns one starter: Jaylen Snipes (girls) and Pernell Vickerstaff (boys).
The girls are playing a youthful lineup: several juniors, sophomores, one freshman and senior Alexis Sydnor. Coach Booth, in her sixth year, inherited a struggling program. Before she came, the Lady Bulldogs had missed the playoffs several years in a row while being dominated by Auburn and Central.
Booth has compiled a 82-46 record, including an amazing 14-2 against archrival Auburn High. She has guided her teams to three region championships and three area tournament titles. The Lady Bulldogs have made the playoffs six straight years under Coach Booth.
Coach Wadsworth starts his seventh year as head boys basketball coach. John was promoted to head coach by former Athletic Director Spence McCracken after then head basketball coach, Mike Pugh, took the head job at Faulkner University.
Wadsworth coached the Dawgs to a school record 30 wins while only losing six games in 2008. OHS is the only school to win an area regular season  championship or area tournament championship other than Central in the last seven years. Coach Wadsworth’s teams have dominated Auburn and Smiths Station over this period.
The new area (Valley, Benjamin Russell and Russell County) will be an even better match-up for Opelika. Don’t be mistaken, these three schools all have a basketball tradition but will be different because Opelika kids are not familiar with these teams like they were Auburn, Central and Smiths Station in the “old” area.
Opelika High School is fortunate to have these two outstanding coaches leading our basketball program. Fans are guaranteed to see teams that play hard for 32 minutes. The kids will act right on and off the court and represent Opelika with class.
These two teams may be young and inexperienced, but I guarantee both will give it all they have when playing a game. I am encouraging each of you to visit the sports arena on the OHS campus to watch and support our basketball games.
Coach Rick Wade is the director of the FCA chapter at OHS. Wade joined the Opelika staff as a teacher and coach two years ago. Since Wade became the OHS Fellowship of Christian Athletes Director, membership and attendance has grown at an all-time high. Meetings are held Tuesday mornings at 6:45 a.m. at OHS. Between 100-200 students attend on a regular basis.
FCA leadership and members (OHS students) are in the process of raising money to help needy families with kids in the Opelika School System have a merry Christmas. Their goal is $4,500. They held a benefit concert with gospel groups earlier this week at the OPAC to raise money.
All-Sport Booster Corporate Sponsors have received a letter explaining the purpose of the fundraising campaign while asking for a financial donation.
It’s hard to imagine, but we have families with children in Opelika City Schools who are unable to buy gifts or food for a Christmas meal. This is so sad! I am asking each of you, if possible, to make a donation. No amount is too small or too large.
All donations will go directly to the families; there are no administrative fees. The FCA will also take canned food, gift cards, hygiene items and other items needed for everyday living if you would prefer to donate in this manner.
If you are willing and able to help with this collection effort, call the OHS office (745-9715), Rick Wade (256-861-6431) or me (319-0467).
I applaud the students involved with this incredible act of kindness.It’s obvious Coach Rick Wade is making a difference, teaching these students about God and how to become a Christian.
Thank you and God bless you, Rick Wade! Go Dawgs!
I want to take this opportunity to wish my readers, loved ones, friends, family and others a Happy Thanksgiving! This is a special time of year when our families and friends come together to give thanks for all our blessings.
I will spend Thanksgiving with my two gifts from God, my daughters, Mallory and Madison, along with my mother and father and brothers and their families.
I am thankful to God for allowing me to be here to celebrate with my family. As some of you know, I am a walking miracle! Since 1992 I have undergone 38 surgeries to help battle a severe nerve disease in my left sciatic nerve and the past six years I have battled non-alcoholic liver disease as a result of medication for the nerve problem.
Six years ago doctors said I would need a liver transplant to survive.
I have not undergone a liver transplant – a special reason to give thanks!
On November 24, 1990, the Lord blessed me with my first of two beautiful daughters. Mallory Jayne Mitchell turned 24 Nov. 24. Happy Birthday Mallory! I love you, Dad.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for I-Heart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys state director, vice president of the A-O Sports Council and Voice of Opelika Bulldogs.