BY WIL CREWS
Auburn High School has been selected as one of four schools which will have the honor of competing in the 2022 AHSAA Kickoff Classic Directors & Coaches Association on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 18 and 19, at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
The Tigers are primed to face off against the Class 7A Hoover Buccaneers, who were ousted from the 2021 playoffs in the semifinal round against eventual champion Thompson High School. Auburn was eliminated from the playoffs in the same round in 2021, losing to eventual runner-up Central Phenix City. The two teams will face off on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m.
The 2022 Hoover team will look different from years past after veteran head coach Josh Niblett resigned after the 2021 season to take on a new challenge at Gainesville High School in Georgia.
During his 14-year tenure, Niblett established one of the most dominant high school dynasties in state history with Hoover, leading the Buccaneers to a 171-26 overall record, six state titles and four runner-up finishes.
Auburn’s head coach Keith Etheredge enters his second year with the Tigers, with an impressive overall head coaching record of 160-54 himself. This year will mark his fourth appearance in the Kickoff Classic, with Auburn making its second. Hoover is 4-0 all-time in the Kickoff Classic, with Auburn High winning its only appearance as well.
The Chelsea Hornets and the Helena Huskies are the other two teams pegged for the Kickoff Classic. That contest between the two Shelby County rivals will take place on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Cramton Bowl.
The contests will be televised over the AHSAA TV Network and live-streamed over the NFHS Network. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast both contest over its statewide radio network.
“We are elated to have two games of this magnitude lined up for the 2022 Kickoff Classic,” said AHSADCA Director Brandon Dean. “We are grateful to these four schools from such strong high school sports communities for committing to this year’s event. We are looking forward to seeing these teams usher in a new season of high school athletics.”
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: D. Mark Mitchell’s column, On the Mark, will return next week.