ON THE MARK
D. MARK MITCHELL
Last week, iHeartRadio’s FOX Sports the Game 910-1310 and the Orthopaedic Clinic held it’s annual “High School Media Days” at the Bottling Plant Event Center. The two day event featured 20 head coaches and a few players from each school.
Opelika’s head coach Erik Speakman closed High School Media Days along with seniors Taylor Love and Jarell Stinson. The following is a summary of Speakman’s remarks while at the podium.
Speakman began by thanking FOX Sports the Game and the Orthopaedic Clinic for hosting High School Media Days. He then recapped last years season that finished in the quarterfinals loss to Saraland. The Bulldogs finished with an official record of 9-3. Speakman added another win to the 2020 season, saying the win over Stanhope Elmore in a “no-count contest game” (prior to the first game), counted for a win. The fourth year head coach mentioned Opelika advanced to the quarterfinals the last six seasons, with all games being played in Mobile. He was sure the Dogs will see a team from Mobile in the playoffs and hoped they would figure out a way to win.
Speakman then said this off-season has been good, citing the team did not play a spring game, instead opting to divide the team and have a scrimmage game. The ninth grade participated which was fun. Furthermore, the team has been conditioning during the summer and working in the weight room, which has been smooth. Opelika has 104 players on the roster as of Wednesday (July 28), including 35-seniors. The summer workout program ended on a good note with ice cream and watermelons for the players.
Players were off Wednesday through Monday (Aug. 2), when football practice officially began. The extreme high temperatures and heat index will cause the team to practice late afternoon, in an effort to avoid any heat related issues to the players and coaches. Opelika has a few new coaches on staff; two coaches will move from the ninth grade team. The two coaches are Jamel Smith and Tommy Traylor. Smith will help coach the secondary while Traylor will handle the s-backs and kickers. The ninth grade will have two new coaches, Adam Clayton and William Kayhill, both coming from Tallassee.
The Bulldogs open the season with two straight home games, Aug. 20 against Calloway and Auburn on Aug. 27. The Bulldogs then play three region games: Lanier at Crampton Bowl, Eufaula at Bulldog Stadium and Carver in Crampton Bowl. OHS then goes to Phenix City Sept. 24, to play Central. After an open week, Opelika plays four straight region games: Oct. 1 versus Russell County in Seale, Oct. 8 against RE Lee at home, Valley Oct. 15 at home and at Crampton Bowl against Park Crossing to end the season. The Dogs will be open the last week of the regular season (Oct. 29), giving the players a week off before the playoffs start, Nov. 1.
I will brake down each of Opelika’s opponents in the coming weeks.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COVERAGE IN OPELIKA OBSERVER AND ON iHEARTRADIO
East Alabama loves high school football. Each week you can keep up with Opelika and your favorite high school team by continuing to read the Sports section in the Opelika Observer. You will find articles about Lee County high school football teams including my column, “On the Mark”. Opelika Observer photographer, Robert Noles ,provides photo’s from numerous games including Opelika.
High School football fans can listen to the radio version of, “On the Mark” on FOX Sports the Game 910AM and 1310AM, weekdays Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. The three-hour radio show is dedicated to covering local sports, including high school football. Head football coaches from around the area who have appeared on the show include: Opelika, Auburn, Lee-Scott, Beauregard, Beulah, Smiths Station, Chambers, LaFayette, Notasulga, Loachapoka and Notasulga. The High School Coaches Show returns, Aug. 18, on WKKR 97.7 Kicker FM and FOX Sports the Game, every Wednsday night 6 to 8 p.m., LIVE from Moe’s BBQ in Bent Creek. Listen to the Orthopaedic Clinic High School Wrap-up Show, airing on FOX Sports the Game, Saturday’s at 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., beginning Aug. 21.
D. Mark Mitchell is the sports director at iHeartMedia, host of “On the Mark” Fox Sports the Game 910-1310, co-chair of the Auburn-Opelika Sports Council, chairman of the Super 7 and the Dixie Boys Baseball state director.