A look back over 2019’s local sports news, happenings


Happy New Year!
As we welcome 2020, I am going to review Opelika High School’s 2019 athletic accomplishments.
On Jan. 7, Opelika graduate and current Auburn University diver Conner Pruitt won the Georgia Diving Invitational.
The Opelika girls and boy’s basketball teams captured the area title and tournament championship, advancing to the 6A AHSAA playoffs.
The boys advanced to the Elite 8, losing at the buzzer to Carver High School-Montgomery. It was the closest that the Opelika boys has been to the Final 56 in years.
Coach Devin Booth’s Lady Bulldogs dominated opponents, advancing to the Final 56 for the second-straight year. The Lady Bulldogs won their semifinal matchup but could not beat defending champs Hazel Green in the finals.
The OHS basketball teams consistently played good teams and improve each game as they prepared for the postseason.
Eight wrestlers earned the right to compete in the AHSAA State Championship Meet: Cameron Williams, Zeak Jones, Benjamin Daughtry, Timothy Tolbert. Trint Vaughn, James Dawson, Bevin Williams and Cameron Reese.
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller announced that the city of Opelika would renovated the “Mainstreet Gym”, the last part of the original school that was not renovated when $40 million was spent to update the high school.
The renovations, new hardwood floors, four new practice goals/rims and backboards, two new game rims and backboards, sound system and scorer’s table were completed in September.
Opelika’s first-year head baseball coach Zach Blatt finished 9-24 while playing many underclassmen at various positions as needed.
Opelika softball coach Tina Deese retired after guiding the Lady Bulldogs to their fourth AHSAA state playoff berth. Opelika native and alum, Randy Belyue took the job before the end of May.
The girls and boys soccer teams advanced to their seventh consecutive state playoff appearances, respectively. The two programs continue to improve with the girls advancing to the Elite 8 and boys to the Final 16.
OHS held the Mike Spain Invitational was held at the new, $1 million Sam Mason Track. The program has not held many meets but hope to add several meets each year.
Dr. Farrell Seymore announced the hiring of Jonathan Fischer as the new girls cross country and track coach.
The AHSAA announced that Seymore would be taking Richard Brown’s (the now-retired Beauregard High School principal) place on the AHSAA Central Board of Control. Seymore officially became a member in September 2019. He is the second OCS employee chosen to be on the board, William Parker was the first member. The Central Board is the AHSAA’s governing body.
Opelika swimmer Bradi Jones committed and later signed with a swimming school with Arkansas.
Bulldog football coach Erik Speakman began his second year after a 7-5 inaugural season. The Bulldogs finished 12-2 this season, winning the region championship and advancing to the semifinals.
Volleyball coach Robyn Roberts continues to improve the program, despite not having any feeder programs in the city. The Lady Bulldogs attained a playoff berth for the third-straight year.
Breckin Gould finished ninth in the AHSAA Cross Country Meet in Moulton.
Jones won the State Championship in the 100-meter butterfly.
Other events that happened in 2019:
Beulah’s Cody Flournoy took the Jackson High School job after one stellar season. The Bobcats turned to a great person in Coach Mathew Johnson to guide the program.
For the first time since Bulldog Stadium opened, Opelika’s home football games were played without a Prayer over the PA system prior to kickoff. OCS received a letter from a group called Freedom From Religion, located in Madison, Wisconsin.
Former OHS alum, coach and community friend Chuck Furlow passed away.
Furlow coached at Opelika and retired in 2009 after serving for several years as Auburn High School’s athletic director.
The cities of Opelika and Auburn joined Auburn University to host the 2019 Super 7 Football Championship. This year’s games were scheduled to be in Bryant-Denny Stadium on the University of Alabama campus.
Alabama athletics asked Auburn University and our Super 7 Co-Chairs if the games could be played on Pat Dye Field.
The Super 7 was a huge success with more than 44,000 attending.
The AHSAA announced a new 12-year contract concerning the Super 7.
The new contract includes Birmingham’s Protective Stadium along with Alabama and Auburn. Each stadium will host the Super 7 four times in 12 years instead of six times.
It’s a win-win for student-athletes, all the cities involved and the AHSAA.


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