Third annual High School Football Media Days held last week

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Photos by Robert Noles/Opelika Observer Pictured on the bottom right are Executive Director of AHSAA Steve Savarese and iHeart Media Sports Director D. Mark Mitchell.

By Will Fairless
Associate Editor

The third annual Alabama High School Media Days, sponsored by iHeart Radio and Fox Sports 910 and 1310 AM “The Game,” was held last Tuesday and Wednesday at the Bottling Plant Event Center.

The event was sponsored by The Orthopaedic Clinic in Auburn.

Seventeen high school teams were represented by coaches and players at the event, which was covered by several TV stations, newspapers and online news sites and was broadcast live on Fox Sports “The Game” in its entirety.

Following is some information about seven of the schools that attended, listed in alphabetical order.

Auburn High School Tigers

Represented by: Head Coach Adam Winegarden, senior quarterback Matthew Caldwell, senior safety Noah Warren, senior defensive lineman Anthony Espinal and senior linebacker Burnard Thomas

2019 record: 9-4

“We want our players to have a great experience and grow as people, we want to be the best team we can be with the players we have, and our goal is to win a state championship because I think we have really good football players and I think we can compete at the highest level.” –Winegarden.

Beauregard High School Hornets

Represented by: Head Coach Rob Carter, junior defensive lineman Eston Harris Jr., senior wide receiver Keyshawn Tolefree and senior linebacker/running back Trent Jones

2019 record: 1-9

“I have not wanted to leave due to wins or losses. That 1-9 season last year, a lot of people would be disappointed; I thought it was one of the best coaching jobs, and I love that team as much as the ones that won the state championship. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong field. Those kids worked hard when it was tough. I’m so proud of this group.” –Carter

Beulah High School Bobcats

Represented by: Defensive Coordinator Stan Pepper (Head Coach Matt Johnson was staying away from the team for two weeks because he had to be tested for COVID-19; he tested negative), senior lineman Quinton Hale, senior quarterback Caleb Abney and senior lineman Austin Billingsley

2019 record: 4-6

“We’re used to tough schedules, we’re used to tough situations at Beulah. We just get up in the morning and go to work. You can either sit around and complain about the situation, but when you do that, when you stop complaining, you’re still in the same situation. You’ve just gotta get up and go to work, push through the bad times and enjoy the good times when they come.” –Pepper

Lee-Scott Academy Warriors

Represented by: Head Coach Buster Daniel, senior running back John Allers, senior halfback Ford Fuller and junior quarterback Tate McKelvey

2019 record: 5-6

Quotes from media days: “I’m excited about being at Lee-Scott. We’re kind of behind the 8 ball, of course, I didn’t take the job officially until July 6. Went in, went to work, and was able to hire some good coaches who love what they do and we started teaching these young men what we need them to learn. They’ve bought into what we talk about, and they’ve come in every day with what we call a lunch pail mentality.” –Daniel

Loachapoka High School Indians

Represented by: Head Coach Rico Newton, senior wide receiver Tyler Harris, senior linebacker Brandon Bedgood, senior linebacker Jordan Holley, senior tight end Dexter Rudolph and senior cornerback Rayshunn Butts

2019 record: 4-6

“Loachapoka is a great city, it’s filled with great tradition. I’m trying to get our kids to realize we’ve gotta get it back to The ‘Poka Way, which is getting it back to a winning tradition. I’m looking forward to this season, looking forward to working with this great group of seniors and great group of kids.” –Newton

Opelika High School Bulldogs

Represented by: Head Coach Erik Speakman, senior wide receiver Will Beams, senior offensive lineman Kris Epperson, senior linebacker Kevin Lilly and senior defensive lineman Jakai Stephens

2019 record: 11-2

“It’s been a really good summer for us, it’s been a lot different. We finally started to get back into what we’d normally be doing this time of year with helmets on and 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. We’ve got 35 seniors this year. It’s a great senior class, most of them have been playing since they were in seventh and eighth grade. It’s a really good group of kids, a lot of them have played a lot of football for us.”  –Speakman

Each of the schools have been affected by coronavirus. Players have been working out at home since the pandemic started, and some schools have had their coaches monitoring workouts by Zoom or with other programs.

 One of the common themes among the coaches was that they do not know exactly how many players they’ll have on their rosters this season, as some players have not attended the first in-person workouts due to the pandemic. 

There is uncertainty about what this fall’s football schedules will look like as a result of the coronavirus. For more information on the “Best Practices for Return to Play,” turn to B1.

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