Evangel takes to field in fall

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Shelby County’s newest high school football team will take the field this fall, though its players won’t spend one day in homeroom, may never eat in a school cafeteria and certainly won’t have to dial locker combinations with an armful of books.

Evangel Christian is a new school with plans to start a football team in its opening year.

But it’s not really a high school at all, at least not in the traditional sense – there are no classrooms.

Home school. That’s the pool from which Evangel will draw its students and future football players.

Under the authority of Evangel Presbyterian Church in

Helena, Evangel will provide a &uot;Christian, parent-directed educational environment.&uot;

Founders hope Evangel will offer homeschoolers some of the benefits of traditional schools such as football and other sports.

When the Lightning kick off for the first time this season they’ll be stepping into a field packed with football tradition and rich with some of the best talent in the state.

Shelby County has a long history of strong football programs dating as far back as 1912.

To get a handle on the storied group it will soon join, it might serve Evangel to take a quick lesson in Shelby County Football 101: A history of its teams, players and coaches.

Topics include:

n Shelby County Wildcats – Under legendary coach Don Bulger, the Wildcats pieced together the county’s longest string of games without a loss. Shelby County went 43-0-2 from 1961-66. Only five other teams in state history have longer runs.

n Tyler Watts – The former Pelham quarterback can be found near the top in almost every passing category in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s record book. As a quarterback for the Crimson Tide, Watts may have earned a place on your wall. Playing with a broken foot, he led Alabama in its first victory over Tennessee in seven years. It inspired artist Daniel Moore to put Watts on canvas. Bama had another player play against the Vols with a broken leg – they called him Bear.

n Briarwood Christian School – The Lions, coached by Fred Yancey, have three state championships, the most in Shelby County. Briarwood took the crown in Class 3A in 1998 and 1999 then won its third last season in Class 5A. Coosa Valley Academy and Shelby Academy each have AISA state titles. The Rebels’ came in 1985 and the Raiders’ in 1999.

n The Castille family – Tim Castille, a varsity starter since his eighth grade days at Briarwood Christian, can be found peppered throughout the AHSAA record books. Simeon Castille followed the footsteps of his big brother and father, Jeremiah, when he became the third Castille to sign with the Alabama Crimson Tide last spring.

Of course this is just an overview, there are countless others who have secured a spot in Shelby County’s football history. Something says Evangel will be up to the challenge of upholding Shelby County’s football prominence.

With 43 varsity and junior varsity players participating in spring practice, Evangel’s roster is already longer than some of the county’s public high schools.

And it doesn’t hurt that Lightning coach Steve Dean once played football for a pretty tough coach, one notorious for leaning against the goal post in a hound’s tooth hat.

He’s already had a few lessons in tradition.

Ashley Vansant is the sports editor of the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at ashley.vansant@shelbycountyreporter.com