Dawgs make all-state team



By D. Mark Mitchell

sports columnist

Today is the first day of 2016, so HAPPY NEW YEAR to all and may 2016 be the best year of your life!
The Opelika school system starts the second semester next week. The OHS athletic department starts the busiest time of the school year.
OHS Athletics is in the middle of winter sports: wrestling, basketball and indoor track.
Every spring sport except track starts practicing in January: tennis (girls and boys), soccer (girls and boys), softball (girls), baseball (boys) and golf (girls and boys).
The outdoor track team will start practicing Feb. 5. So, as you see, January is the beginning of much more than a new year as far as OHS athletics is concerned.
The OHS girls and boys basketball teams participated in tournaments this week. Coach Devin Booth took her Lady Bulldog basketball team to Montgomery to participate in the Ball N Power Tournament at Faulkner University. Coach John Wadsworth took his team to LaGrange to play in the LaGrange Invitational Tournament.
The results of these tournaments were not completed by press time. I will write about each team’s results in next week’s edition.
The Alabama Sports Writers Association released the 2015 All-State 6A Football Team. Three Bulldog players earned first team All-State honors:
Jake Bentley (punter), Zo Bridges (defensive lineman) and Josh Johnson (running back).
Several other Opelika players deserved recognition. The team finished 12-1, winning the regional championship, finishing the regular season 10-0 and defeating 7A rivals Auburn and Central.
Congratulations Josh, Jake and Zo!
The Alabama High School Athletic Association will release the “new” classifications this month. The Association re-classifies every two years after receiving enrollment figures from the Alabama Department of Education.
I am hearing Opelika will remain in 6A and may stay in the same region. We could possibly change regions depending on other schools’ enrollments.
Athletic directors and football coaches cannot schedule games for the next two years until the updated classifications are released.
As of today, two teams are on the Opelika schedule for 2016-17. Opelika will play long-time rivals, Auburn and Central. We would also like to renew the contract with Smiths Station. The Panthers were looking for a head coach when schedules were made for 2014-15. SSHS former principal, Dr. Yohn, refused to play OHS.
Scheduling Smiths Station may be difficult again. The Panthers are again searching for a head coach after Jason Dukes was dismissed after two seasons. Coach Blackmon is hoping the Panthers will play the Dawgs next season.
Opelika High Athletics has launched a new website, www.opelikaathletics.com. The new site replaces www.thedawgnetwork.com, which is now used by Opelika City Schools.
The new site will allow fans to keep up with each sport’s schedule, results and news. The site is still in the early stages and will continue to be updated. Stay tuned.
Sports fans can keep up with local sports by listening to “ON THE MARK” weekdays on WTLM 1520 AM 7-9 a.m. Jeff Sasser and I co-host the local sports radio show and will start year nine in two weeks.
You can also listen on the web at www.kickerfm.com/sports or download the i-Heart Radio App on your smart phone. Search for WTLM and click “listen live.”
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the  A-O Sports Council.


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