By D. Mark Mitchell
The state high school championship games will be held on Pat Dye Field in Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Dec. 3-5. The games will include the inaugural AHSAA Super 7 High School Football Championship.
The AHSAA Central Board of Control voted to add a seventh classification in January of this year, and the addition of 7A created another championship game. The event changed from Super 6 to Super 7.
This is the third AHSAA state football championship event held in the Opelika-Auburn area in six years. Tuscaloosa hosted the event the other three years.
Eight years ago the cities of Opelika and Auburn formed an A-O Sports Council to attract sporting events to the area. Such events draw people to these cities, and those people spend money here – economic impact.
The AHSAA Super 7 features 14 high school football teams, bands, cheerleaders, other support staff and fans that will descend on Opelika/Auburn.
Auburn Mayor Bill Ham appointed Ron Anders to represent Auburn, and Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller appointed D.Mark Mitchell to represent Opelika, and the two serve as co-chairs of the A-O Sports Council.
The council visited AHSAA offices in Montgomery to inquire about championship events. The conversation included basketball, baseball and football. Before the end of the meeting, the council was able to secure another meeting just for football.
The A-O Sports Council called the Tuscaloosa Sports Commission to gauge interest in cooperating in a state championship series. The council knew it would be easier to have both Auburn University and University of Alabama cooperating in this effort. A partnership was formed. Over the next two years, the council met all over the state, trying to keep efforts a secret until details were worked out and the deal was inked.
At last, the AHSAA signed a contract with the A-O Sports Council and Tuscaloosa Sports Commission to host the Super 6, now Super 7. The championship games moved from Legion Field in Birmingham in 2009 to alternating between Opelika/Auburn and Tuscaloosa.
The Super 7 will officially start Dec. 3 with a Special Olympic flag football game on Pat Dye field. This is the first “Unity Game,” as called by the AHSAA, at the Super 7 and is planned to be a regular part of the games.
The two Unity teams will wear jerseys furnished by Russell Athletic. The stadium scoreboard and public address system will be used to enhance the experience for the children, with the hope each player will get a taste of playing for Auburn.
The 7A Championship game will be Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. Hoover (12-2) will play old rival Prattville, also 12-2.
Classes 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A are playing semi-final games this Friday night. The 1A, 3A and 5A championship games will be played Dec. 4, with the 3A championship at 11 a.m., 1A at 3 p.m. and 5A at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 is the final day as 2A, 4A and 6A play their games: 4A at 11 a.m., 2A at 3 p.m. and 6A at 7 p.m.
Game tickets are $15 at the gate or $12 if purchased in advance. Go to www.ahsaa.com and click Super 7 championship tickets. Listen to every game on i-heart Media stations, WKKR 97.7 FM, WTLM 1520 AM and WZMG 910 AM.