By D. Mark Mitchell

Monday was the first official day at Opelika for Caleb Ross, hired to be the 19th head football coach two weeks ago. The hire was approved 5-0 by members of OCS Board of Education last Thursday during its regular monthly meeting.
Coach Ross began his first day on the job with a 7 a.m. “Meet and Greet Breakfast” with the OHS faculty in the OHS athletic facility. The OHS football players gathered at the indoor facility for a team meeting  at 8:10 a.m. to meet their new coach.
Ross spent the rest of the day meeting with assistant football  coaches, unpacking and arranging his new office and getting acclimated to Opelika.
He will have just a month to prepare for spring practice. The Bulldogs are scheduled to play their annual spring game at Stanhope Elmore on May 19.
The Opelika All-Sports Booster Club is planning a “Meet and Greet” for the entire Ross Family soon.
Details are being worked out. No date has been announced as yet.
OCS Superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors named Erik Speakman to the position of athletic director at OHS. Speakman served as defensive coordinator and assistant athletic director under Brian Blackmon.
This is the first time Opelika High has an athletic director that is not the head football coach. Coach Devin Booth will remain Assistant athletic director for female athletics.
To avoid the potential problem of a head coach reporting to one of his subordinates, Ross will report directly to OHS Principal Dr. Farrell Seymore.
Opelika Coach Derrick Hovell led the boys soccer team to back-to-back sectional championships in 2015 and 2016.
This year’s team is in the middle of a nine- game win streak, including a 2-0 win over Central last Friday night.
The Bulldogs travel to Duck Samford Stadium Thursday for the annual “Soccer for a Cure” game against rival Auburn High School.
OHS and AHS are teaming  up to raise money for local cancer patients through East Alabama Medical Center. The proceeds help pay travel expenses for those patients having cancer treatment at the local hospital.
Admission is normally $5 per person. Thursday night’s admission is $1 with fans asked to donate the remaining $4 to “Soccer for a Cure.”
The action begins with the junior varsity games at 3:30; with varsity girls and boys to follow.
First-year OHS baseball coach Nick Richardson took over the program last summer with high expectations.The Bulldogs were coming off two-straight trips to quarterfinals, but returned few starters.
This season’s Dawgs are 13-8 overall and 1-1 in area against Wetumpka. OHS beat the Indians in the “if game” (tiebreaker if you split the two area games) to take the series.
Opelika played area foe Benjamin Russell last night in Alexander City. The results were not available at press time.
OHS will also host Benjamin Russell Thursday in a doubleheader starting at 4:30 p.m..
Opelika can clinch the area championship by winning two of the three games.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the  A-O Sports Council.