Coaches, players gear up for season at media day

Several high school football coaches and players from Shelby County traveled to Gardendale July 26 to give a preseason look at their teams in a media day session with local newspaper and television stations at the Gardendale Civic Center.

Briarwood Christian School coach Fred Yancey, who brought senior linemen Caleb Ward and Tyler Whitworth to the media day session, said the Lions don’t know what to expect with a lot of new starters on both offense and defense.

“We need to make a jump,” Yancey said. “Time will tell if that happens.”

Yancey said he expected the defensive line to be a strength of the team. Whitworth, who started on the offensive line last season, is moving over to defensive line in 2010.

Whitworth praised Briarwood defensive line coach Shane Harmon for the Lions having a strong defensive front year after year.

“I feel like as a defense, we’ve bonded together,” Whitworth said. “We’re going to really give it our all.”

Calera coach Scott Martin, along with senior quarterback Brandon Wells and defensive end Skylar Wachs, also attended media day.

Martin said the Eagles have a lot of potential with seven returning starters back on offense and five returning starts back on defense.

Calera also has senior running back Eugene Rodgers and junior wide receiver Jeremy Hyde returning. Martin said the Eagles have plenty of options on offense with Wells running the show.

“Brandon is able to run the ball and throw the ball,” Martin said. “We’ve got a very balanced and a pretty potent offense.”

Chelsea coach Wade Waldrop, who attended media day with senior linebacker Michael Guo and junior tight end Joey Mock, said the Hornets need to be more physical to end a two-year playoff drought.

Waldrop said defensive line coach Larry McSwain has helped Chelsea players improve their toughness.

“We’ve got to get mentally and physically tougher,” Waldrop said.

Oak Mountain coach Jeff Harris, along with senior quarterback Trey Page and senior linebacker Andy Whitcomb, attended the media day session.

Harris said Page, a starter at both receiver and cornerback last season, will take over at quarterback following an offseason injury to returning starter Paul Angel.

“Trey matches up better with our offense,” Harris said.

Two first-year coaches were also in attendance at the media day session. Montevallo coach Jamie Williams and Thompson coach Bruce Hill were both excited about their first seasons.

“We have so much energy,” said Thompson senior linebacker Adam McKenzie, who attended the media day session with Hill and fellow senior linebacker Brandon King. “Everybody is excited about getting started.”

Williams brought junior quarterback Taylor Burr and junior wide receiver R.J. Scaife with him to Gardendale.

Burr said the Bulldogs are excited about their new coach.

“It’s great to have a coach who is committed to us,” Burr said.

Vincent coach Dwight Spradley brought senior quarterback Ben McKinney to the media day session. McKinney, who started at running back last season, will take over at quarterback in 2010.

“Ben is going to be our stud horse,” Spradley said.