2010 Sports Year in Review

The Shelby County sports scene in 2010 was highlighted by Coosa Valley Academy winning its second Alabama Independent Schools Association football championship in school history. (File Photo)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

JANUARY

FALCONS OFF TO RECORD START

The University of Montevallo men’s basketball team got off to its best start in school history following a 74-58 win Jan. 2 over Lander in the first Peach Belt Conference game in school history at Bank Trust Arena.

Montevallo,which entered the game ranked No. 19 in the National Association of College Basketball Coaches Division II poll, won its first 11 games of the 2009-2010 season. The feat topped the 10 wins without a loss accomplished by the 2005-2006 squad, which was the first of two Elite Eight teams under Young at Montevallo.

JAGS REGAIN UPPER HAND IN RIVALRY

Spain Park regained the upper hand Jan. 5, ending Hoover’s two-game winning streak in the series with a 49-44 win over the Bucs.

TIGER PROWL IN CALERA

High School football stars Michael Dyer and Dakota Mosley of Little Rock, Ark., were spotted Jan. 15 at the Zaxby’s in Calera on their way to a recruiting visit to Auburn University.

Dyer and Mosley, teammates at Little Rock Christian Academy, signed letters-of-intent with the school less than three weeks later on National Signing Day.

KCS GIRLS’ COACH TAKES OVER BOYS’ TEAM

Kingwood Christian School athletic director and girls’ basketball coach Johna Smith took over the boys’ head coaching position from coach Chris Monroe Jan. 19.

Smith coached both the boys and the girls for the first time Jan. 19 against Tuscaloosa Academy. Smith led the Lions to their second win of the season Jan. 22 at Morgan Academy in Selma.

CHARGERS WRAP UP PERFECT SEASON

The 2009-2010 Cornerstone Christian School boys’ basketball team will be forever remembered in the future as the “undefeated” team.

The Chargers wrapped up a perfect season with a 79-31 win over South Montgomery Academy on senior night Jan. 29.

FEBRUARY

DUDCHOCK SEALS THE DEAL WITH STANFORD

Months of deliberation ended in a moment’s notice for Oak Mountain High School senior Davis Dudchock.

A highly-recruited football prospect, Dudchock jumped on the college football recruiting carousel and tested the waters at several college campuses before everything became clear in the mature 18-yearold’s mind.

“It was a gut feeling,” said Duchock, who signed a football scholarship Feb. 3 with Stanford University on National Signing Day.

YELLOW JACKETS COME UP SHORT

Senior guard Devanta Williams and junior forward Ben McKinney came up short in two final attempts to tie the game and another trip to Jacksonville turned up empty as Vincent fell 59-56 to Section in the Northeast Regional Class 2A semifinals.

INJURIES COST MONTEVALLO

The Montevallo High School girls’ basketball team lost starters Amber Cardwell and Shanise Hudson to injuries in the second quarter of a 62-14 defeat at the hands of Sumter County in the AHSAA Central Regional Class 3A tournament semifinals in Montgomery.

VANDAM WINS BASSMASTER CLASSIC AT LAY LAKE

The most dominant angler in Bassmaster history added to his legacy at the 2010 Bassmaster Classic at Shelby County’s Lay Lake Feb. 21.

Kevin VanDam, a Kalamazoo, Mich., native, became the first professional angler to top $4 million in career earnings when he took home the $500,000 grand prize after winning the 2010 Classic at Lay Lake.

VanDam, who caught two of the three largest bags in the three-day tournament Feb. 21, captured the title after reeling in five bass weighing a total of 19 pounds and 7 ounces on the final day of fishing.

CORNERSTONE LOSES IN FINAL FOUR

Cornerstone Christian School’s dream of a perfect basketball season and Class 1A championship came to an end with a 50-42 loss to Warrior at Roland Arena on the Huntingdon College campus in Montgomery.

FROZEN TIDE DEFEATS TENNESSEE IN SEC TOURNEY

It didn’t quite match the third Saturday in October, but the tension between the players and the passion among the fan base was clearly evident Feb. 26.

It may not have been played out on the gridiron at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but the club hockey match between the University of Alabama Frozen Tide and the University of Tennessee Ice Vols at the Pelham Civic Complex provided another reminder that the rivalry between the two Southeastern Conference schools is heated — in any sport.

The Tide defeated the Vols 6-3 in a physical opening-round game of the second-annual Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament at the complex in front of several hundred spectators, including Alabama football radio play-by-play announcer Eli Gold.

MARCH

COLUMBIANA LEAGUE HONORS COFER

David Cofer wasn’t able to coach his son Kyle on opening day for the 2010 Columbiana youth baseball season March 6.

Cofer, who passed away suddenly at age 48 from aortic dissection Nov. 22, 2009, missed opening day for the first time in 17 years.

Instead, Cofer had the best seat in the park on a special day for his wife, Beverly, and sons, Dave, Chuck and Kyle. The city of Columbiana honored Cofer by naming the main field at the Columbiana Sports Plex David Cofer Field and held a special ceremony in celebration.

FALCONS REACH SWEET 16

The University of Montevallo men’s basketball team advanced to its fifth NCAA regional final in school history March 14 with an 88-71 win over USC-Aiken in the semifinals of the Southeast Regional of the 2010 NCAA Division II tournament in Augusta, Ga.

MONTEVALLO FALLS SHORT OF ELITE EIGHT

The third meeting this season between the University of Montevallo men’s basketball team and Peach Belt Conference rival Augusta State University lived up to its billing.

The Falcons had a chance to pull off their second upset of the fourth-ranked Jaguars in a month in a tight two-point game with less than 5 minutes left.

However, Montevallo came up just short in the final minutes and Augusta State moved on to the NCAA Division II men’s basketball Elite Eight following a 79-71 win over the Falcons in the Southeast Region championship game March 16 at Christenberry Fieldhouse in Augusta, Ga.

The Falcons came up short in their bid for the third Elite Eight appearance in school history following back-to-back trips to Massachusetts in 2006 and 2007.

BAXTER, CARDWELL NAMED ALL-COUNTY

Oak Mountain High School senior Cary Baxter and Montevallo High School junior Amber Cardwell were named the Shelby County Reporter 2010-2011 Players of the Year.

APRIL

GILLIAM DIES IN CAR ACCIDENT

Former Montevallo High School and Calera High School athletic coach Richard Gilliam passed away following a two-vehicle accident April 3.

Gilliam, 71, was responsible for the successful integration of the Bulldogs’ football team in 1973 and the school renamed its football field Richard Gilliam Field in 2006.

During his time at Montevallo, Gilliam also coached baseball and basketball.

JACKETS OUT OF PLAYOFF PICTURE

The Vincent High School baseball team entered a one game playoff with Shades Mountain Christian at Chelsea High School with only two seniors, a bevy of underclassmen and a couple of middle school players on its roster.

The youth caught up to the Yellow Jackets in their final game of the season April 10 in a 5-3 loss to Shades Mountain.

BRIARWOOD WINS PLAYOFF OPENER

The 2010 Briarwood Christian School baseball team featured plenty of playoff veterans.

Freshman Daniel Robert wasn’t among them.

Despite his youth, Robert couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A baseball playoffs as he led the Lions to a 10-1, 15-5 sweep of Moody in the first round April 16 at Jay D. Kynerd Field.

WILDCATS SQUEEZE PAST LIONS

In the record books, one run will be the difference in Shelby County High School’s 3-2 nine-inning win over Briarwood Christian School in the deciding third game of the second round series in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A baseball playoffs.

In reality, it was just a few feet that separated the two teams April 26 at Jay D. Kynerd Field and lifted the Wildcats to unchartered territory in the playoffs.

Evan McNeal’s squeeze bunt dribbler that ran 10 feet in front of home plate with the bases loaded combined with Joe Pate’s attentive base running allowed Shelby County to complete a doubleheader sweep with an 8-6 win in the second game and 3-2 win in the third game in take the series.

PELHAM PITCHES FITTS PAST SPAIN PARK

Following the Friday, April 24 game-one victory and postponement of game two due to lightning in the second round of the Class 6A baseball playoffs, Pelham head coach Jeff Maudlin knew he might have to go back to senior pitcher Trevor Fitts as the Panthers trailed Spain Park 5-0.

Fitts, who struck out 10 batters in the complete-game 5-0 shutout over the Jaguars Friday, had to change his postgame rehab process to get ready on just three days rest.

On Sunday, Mauldin gave Fitts the choice of whether to come in as a closer, in middle relief or to start if a game three was necessary.

“I didn’t even finish the sentence and he said ‘I want to start,’” Mauldin said. “He’s an absolute warrior.”

Although Fitts gave up two runs April 26 in the first inning of game three following Spain Park’s 9-5 game-two victory, he finished what he started, striking out nine in the Panthers’ 5-2 victory to advance to the third round of the playoffs.

WILDCATS FALL IN QUARTERFINALS

Shelby County High School baseball coach Shane Beasley entered the Wildcats’ best-of-three series April 30 against Spanish Fort in the quarterfinal round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A playoffs with the satisfaction of leading the most decorated team in school history.

Despite a season-ending 11-4 and 6-3 sweep by the Toros, Beasley remained proud after seeing the Wildcats hang around with one of the best Class 5A teams in the state.

Shelby County (22-10) fought back after an early deficit in the opener and went pitch-for-pitch with Spanish Fort in the nightcap before fading in the final three innings.

MAY

GRISSOM OUTLASTS PELHAM IN HEARTBREAKER

The Grissom Tigers celebrated the Class 6A baseball quarterfinal series victory over the Pelham Panthers twice Saturday, May 1, but it was the second celebration following Patrick Dodson’s two-run homerun in the 13th inning that counted as the Tigers won 9-7.

BRIARWOOD WINS SOCCER TITLE

The Briarwood Christian School Lions (15-6-3) put their 2009 disappointment behind them with a 4-2 win over Spanish Fort in the Class 5A championship game May 8 at John Hunt Park in Huntsville.

SPAIN PARK REPEATS SOCCER TITLE

Spain Park High School junior Annalika Steyn had done it plenty of times this season.

When Steyn placed the ball in front of the net for a penalty kick in the first overtime May 8 in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A championship game against Grissom, nerves began to kick in as Steyn contemplated what was at stake.

Steyn came through once again for the Jaguars, as she netted the kick and lifted Spain Park to a second-consecutive Class 6A title with a 2-1 overtime win over Grissom at John Hunt Park in Huntsville.

REBELS CLAIM BASEBALL TITLE

Coosa Valley Academy junior Jarrod Mims wasn’t about to let anything stand in the way of his participation during the Rebels’ 2010 baseball season.

Too much was at stake for Mims. So when the 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher suffered a broken left hand in a car accident four games into the season, there wasn’t any doubt in his mind about a comeback.

Mims put the accident behind him and returned to the mound, leading the Rebels to an Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A championship following a 7-3 and 14-6 sweep of Wilcox Academy in the championship series May 4 at Paterson Field in Montgomery.

The Rebels (37-9) won their second championship in school history and first since 2007.

CORNERSTONE WINS FOURTH SOFTBALL TITLE

The Cornerstone Christian School softball team defeated Wilcox Academy 5-1 to claim a fourth consecutive Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A championship May 8 at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

Senior pitcher Chelsey Dunnaway gave up only one earned run on three hits with 11 strikeouts and three walks in a complete game to lead the Chargers (26-1) in the championship game.

SPAIN PARK GOLF THREE-PEAT

The Spain Park High School boys’ golf team won its third consecutive Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A championship May 11 on the River Course at Robert Trent Jones’ Golf Trail at Hampton Cove in Huntsville.

Spain Park edged second-place Hoover by 16 strokes after finishing with a two-day team total of 7-under par 569. Three Jaguars posted tournament totals below par to help lead Spain Park to the championship.

Spain Park junior Michael Johnson shot a 4-under par 68 in the final round, on the heels of a 5-under par 67 in the opening round May 10, to win his first Class 6A individual championship.

LIONS TOP OAK MOUNTAIN IN SPRING GAME

Briarwood Christian School head football coach Fred Yancey has been excited about the way his defense is shaping up in spring practice.

Yancey’s enthusiasm is at a higher level after watching the Lions pick apart the Oak Mountain offense as they edged the Eagles 18-8 in a spring scrimmage May 21 at Heardmont Park.

“The defense is going to be a pretty salty bunch,” Yancey said.

BASS-FISHING WARRIORS

Thompson High School freshman Austin Herring is an athlete, but he doesn’t play football, basketball or baseball.

His sport doesn’t require handling a tennis racquet or swinging a golf club. He doesn’t need exceptional

speed or a strong arm to excel in his sport. Herring just needs a rod, a reel and quick reflexes.

Herring, who is part of a growing pack of high school bass-fishing anglers, teamed up with junior Tanner Ellis to form the first ever bass-fishing team at Thompson High School this spring.

The duo completed their inaugural season by competing at the first ever Alabama high school club bass-fishing state tournament May 15 at Logan Martin Lake.

The two Thompson anglers finished eighth out of 18 teams that qualified for the state tournament.

The team launched its boat at Lakeside Landing at Logan Martin, which is located in east central Alabama.

JUNE

STEYN, LEVINSON LEAD ALL-COUNTY TEAM

Spain Park High School junior Annalika Steyn and Chelsea High School senior Alex Levinson were named the Shelby County Reporter 2010 Players of the Year in soccer.

FITTS, DUNNAWAY NAMED PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Pelham High School junior Trevor Fitts was named the Shelby County Reporter 2010 Player of the Year in baseball. Cornerstone Christian School senior Chelsey Dunnaway was named the Reporter’s 2010 Player of the Year in softball.

NFL PLAYER HOSTS CAMP AT OAK MOUNTAIN

National Football League star linebacker Karlos Dansby didn’t have an opportunity to be mentored by a pro football player growing up as a standout athlete in the Woodlawn community in Birmingham. Dansby learned his trade and sharpened his skills without the assistance of an NFL player.

Now that he’s reached his peak as a starting linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, Dansby wanted to give the next generation more opportunities than he had as a child.

Dansby fulfills his mission by offering the Karlos Dansby All-Star Football Camp, which was held free of charge June 19 at Oak Mountain High School.

BASEBALL STARS SHINE AT SUMMER CAMP

Spain Park High School rising senior Chris Ellis shares the same major league baseball dream with every high school baseball player across the country.

“Everyone wants to be drafted,” Ellis said.

Ellis is one step closer to realizing his dream.

The right-handed pitcher was recently chosen to participate in the fifth annual East Coast Professional Showcase in Lakeland, Fla., where he will get his chance to shine in front of major league scouts. Thompson High School rising senior Jonathan Keller, a lefthanded pitcher who had a 1.35 earned run average this past season, was also selected to play in the showcase.

Ellis’ teammate Mikey White, a rising junior, also participated in the tryout session along with Pelham rising senior Trevor Fitts.

JULY

ALABASTER NATIVE INVITED TO X GAMES

Taylor Miller desperately tried to attract the interest of ESPN, “the worldwide leader in sports.”

Miller, a 19-year-old Alabaster resident, grew up hoping to compete in the Summer X Games, an action sports competition controlled and arranged by the network.

From the time she got her first motorbike at age 4, until competing as a professional in the women’s National Motocross Championship series last summer, Miller has had her heart set on competing in the X Games.

For the past two summers, Miller has sent ESPN producers a video of her in action on the bike and a resume of her accomplishments.

She never heard back from them. That all changed this summer for Miller, who won the 2005 American Motorcyclist Association’s Amateur and Youth Motocross Championship as an amateur motocross racer. Miller sent in a new video and updated her resume, which finally caught their attention.

As a result, Miller was selected as an alternate for the 2010 Summer X Games, which will be held July 30-Aug. 1 in Los Angeles.

CHELSEA SWARM WIN STATE TOURNAMENT

The Chelsea Swarm 9-and-under All-Star team entered the championship game of the Dizzy Dean State tournament with a ton of familiarity with its opponent.

The Swarm had played the Oak Mountain All-Stars in the championship game of its Invitational a few weeks earlier, falling 11-10.

The Swarm met Oak Mountain three times during the course of the State tournament and won all three games, including a 9-6 victory in the championship game, to capture the State title July 7 in Athens.

SHELBY COUNTY ALL-STARS ADVANCE TO WORLD SERIES

Shelby County 12-and-under All-Star Kyle Cofer caught a line drive back to the mound and threw to first to complete a double play and record the final out of a 13-11 win over Jackson County in the Dizzy Dean State tournament July 13 that clinched a trip to the World Series.

Everything happened so fast, Cofer didn’t have any time to catch his breath before teammates dogpiled on top of him in the middle of the diamond at the Columbiana Sports Complex.

Meanwhile, Cofer’s play left many spectators breathless, including Shelby County coach Jerry Moore.

“That was unbelievable,” Moore said. “It’s an incredible play. Major Leaguers struggle with

that one.”

The Shelby County All-Stars finished third in the Dizzy Dean 12-and-under State tournament July 16 after falling to the Jackson County All- Stars, 8-7.

WARRIOR WRESTLES ON NATIONAL STAGE

Thompson High School rising junior John Austin (J.A.) Jones represented the Warriors on a national stage July 19 in Fargo, N.D.

Jones faced Ryan Gartner of Wisconsin in the USA Wrestling’s Cadet Greco-Roman Nationals. Jones battled Gartner in the 145-pound final, which was streamed live online.

Jones, who dropped the final 6-0, 6-1 to Gartner, won five matches on his way to the title match. Jones, only the second wrestler ever from the state of Alabama to wrestle in the Greco-Roman Nationals finals, earned four decisions and a pin on his way to the finals.

PELHAM YOUTH HOCKEY TEAM MEETS GOVERNOR

A pair of Pelham hockey teams rocked their competition while serving as ambassadors for the city, Shelby County and Alabama.

The Pelham Bantam Travel Hockey Team, a team composed of 13- and 14-year olds from the Pelham Youth Hockey League, earned a proclamation from Governor Bob Riley.

During the presentation, Riley declared the Pelham Civic Complex-based travel league the first-ever state ice hockey champions, and presented each player with a state proclamation honoring their achievements on the ice.

The city’s Pee-Wee Team, which is composed of 11-12-year-olds, was also declared co-state champions in their division alongside the Huntsville Chargers.

AUGUST

ANGELS ON THE FIELD IN CALERA

The Field of Angels baseball league made dreams come true for special needs children at Oliver Park in Calera Aug. 7.

The league aims to give special needs children the opportunity to play baseball and have fun, and to get recognition from the community.

League founder Chris Bunn, who’s son Noah participated for the red team, wanted to give his son and other special needs kids the same opportunity other kids enjoy.

“It’s all about the kids,” Bunn said. “Everybody gets to hit, and everybody scores.”

The opening day of the inaugural season saw a large turnout from the Shelby County community.

MONTEVALLO HOF ADDS FOUR MEMBERS

The University of Montevallo Athletics Hall of Fame Committee welcomes three former studentathletes and one former student who attended the university prior to intercollegiate athletics being offered.

The 2010 class consists of Billy Cannon, a former basketball player and current director of the McChesney Student Activity Center on campus, Raven Keet, the first ever men’s soccer player at Montevallo to be named All-American, Trent Preuitt, a 2005 Rawlings/ABCA and NCBWA All- American, and Dorothy Brumfield White, a sevenyear member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

EAGLES TOP BULLDOGS TO OPEN FOOTBALL SEASON

It’s difficult to call a three-touchdown performance in a 34-0 shutout victory a disappointment, but that’s exactly the way Calera High School senior quarterback Brandon Wells felt following a win Aug. 27 over rival Montevallo.

SEPTEMBER

JAGS BOTTOM OUT AGAINST HOOVER

Spain Park High School interim head football coach Ben Berguson knew he had a rough stretch ahead of him when he accepted the role Aug. 26.

Berguson didn’t expect it to get this bad after watching Spain Park struggle Sept. 3 in a 44-0 shutout against rival Hoover.

After playing “the toughest three-game stretch in the nation” during the last three weeks, Berguson and the Jaguars attempted to start over and put the past behind them.

CHELSEA ROLLS OVER SHELBY COUNTY

Chelsea High School football coach Wade Waldrop took one look at the Hornets’ Class 5A, Region 5 schedule in the summer and had one lingering thought.

His team didn’t have a few weeks to get its feet wet — not with region games against Sylacauga, Shelby County and Briarwood Christian back-to-back-to-back.

Following a one-point win over Sylacauga last week, the Hornets earned a passing grade on their second test Sept. 10 after a 33-0 shut out win over the rival Wildcats in the Shelby County Reporter Game of the Week.

LIONS TAME HORNETS IN REGION WIN

The Briarwood Christian School defensive line earned a reputation as one of the best in the state through the first three games of the 2010 season.

The Lions’ defensive front didn’t do anything to harm that reputation in a 41-7 win over rival Chelsea in the Shelby County Reporter Game of the Week.

BULLDOGS OUTLAST YELLOW JACKETS

Montevallo High School junior R.J. Scaife had only one thought running through his mind as he returned to the sideline with the help of the Bulldogs’ training staff following a shin injury in the second half against Vincent.

Scaife knew he needed to get back on the field if at all possible to help the Bulldogs hold off the Yellow Jackets in the Shelby County Reporter Game of the Week.

Scaife made a successful comeback, rushing for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:53 remaining in the game to give his team a 7-point lead and picking off a pass seconds later to seal a 21-14 Montevallo victory.

OCTOBER

EAGLES STREAK PAST WARRIORS

Oak Mountain High School junior running back Bradley Bostick remembered the feeling of trailing on the road in a Class 6A, Region 6 contest at Larry Simmons Stadium in Alabaster.

The Eagles were in a hole against the Thompson Warriors last season and couldn’t dig their way out. Bostick was determined to not let another possible region win — and the Eagles’ first victory of the 2010 season — slip away Oct. 1 against the Warriors in the Shelby County Reporter Game of the Week.

Bostick capped a comeback for Oak Mountain with two rushing touchdowns in the second half to spoil the Warriors’ homecoming night with a 20-14 victory over Thompson.

PELHAM KEEPS GAME BALL

The Pelham High School Panthers retained the coveted game ball trophy for the third straight year, after Pelham edged the Thompson High School Warriors 10-7 at Ned Bearden Stadium Oct. 8.

Pelham recorded 311 total yards of offense, 202 of which came during the first half of the Shelby County Reporter Game of the Week.

SPAIN PARK CLINCHES PLAYOFF SPOT

Turnovers plagued the Pelham High School football team Oct. 15, as the Panthers fell 28-12 to Spain Park in the Shelby County Reporter Game of the Week at Jaguars Stadium.

The Jaguars secured a spot in the Class 6A state playoffs with the win, a goal the team has been working on since summer, said Spain Park interim head coach Ben Berguson.

JAGS POUND WARRIORS IN REGION WIN

Spain Park High School head football coach Ben Berguson knew early season tests against some of the best teams in the state and nation would eventually pay off for his Jaguars.

Berguson is enjoying the fruit of Spain Park’s labor. The Jaguars (5-4 overall, 5-2 in Class 6A, Region 6) closed Class 6A, Region 6 play Oct. 22 with a 31-12 win over Thompson.

HOPE CROWNED STATE CHAMPS

The Eagles had achieved a perfect 11-0 season by beating cross-town rival Evangel Christian School 49-16 in the Alabama Christian Sports Conference championship game, their second victory over the Lightning this season.

Hope recorded 441 yards of offense while holding Evangel to 141.

“Our guys deserve what they have earned,” said Hope coach Mark Rettig. “They can call themselves state champions because they earned it.”

NOVEMBER

LIONS DOMINANT IN PLAYOFF WIN

Briarwood’s new-face defense suffocated the Blue Devils and allowed just 145 yards of total offense, as the Lions rolled to a 38-0 shutout win Nov. 5 at Lion Pride Stadium to advance to the second round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A playoffs.

LATE TOUCHDOWN LIFTS BRIARWOOD

Less than 2 minutes into its secondround playoff game, Walker High School hit Briarwood Christian School with an early blow.

Luckily for the Lions, the 46 minutes and change remaining in the contest gave them enough time to come back and deliver the knockout punch. Junior running back Sam Whitaker darted around the right end for a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left in the game to lift Briarwood to a 21-14 victory over the visiting Vikings Nov. 12 at Lions Pride Stadium.

REBELS CLAIM TITLE

Coosa Valley Academy senior quarterback John Bullen fought through a high ankle sprain throughout the Rebels’ 2010 football season.

Week in, week out, Bullen and several of his teammates persevered through the bumps and bruises associated with playing high school football.

The physical pain endured all paid off Nov. 18 in front of several hundred Coosa Valley Academy faithful at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Troy University following the Rebels’ 35-20 win over Sumter Academy in the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class A championship game.

KICK SENDS LIONS TO TITLE GAME

Briarwood Christian School senior kicker Wilson Whorton trotted on the field to attempt a 43-yard field goal as time expired in an Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A semifinal contest Nov. 26 against the Hartselle Tigers on the road at J.P. Cain Stadium.

Whorton, suffering from a stress fracture in three vertebrae in his lower back, missed the potential game-winning kick as the ball failed to reach the goal post.

When the Lions held Hartselle without a score in the first overtime period, there wasn’t any doubt surrounding their offensive plans. Briarwood ran the ball three consecutive downs and sent Whorton back out on the field for an 18-yard game-winning field goal to lift the Lions to a 24-21 win over the Tigers and a trip to the Class 5A championship game Dec. 2 at Jordan-Hare Stadium on the campus of Auburn University.

DECEMBER

TURNOVERS PLAGUE LIONS IN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

It may not have been Briarwood Christian School junior quarterback Ben Craft’s final game with the Lions, but it sure felt like it.

Craft and the Lions’ offense struggled with turnovers in Briarwood’s 14-0 loss to Spanish Fort in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A championship game Dec. 2 at the Super 6 at Jordan-Hare Stadium on the Auburn University campus.

SKINNER LEADS ALL-COUNTY VOLLEYBALL TEAM

High school volleyball players dream of having a season like the one Oak Mountain senior Samantha Skinner had during the 2010 season.

Skinner, who will play collegiate volleyball next fall at the University of Alabama, not only posted eye-catching numbers as an outside hitter, but Skinner’s statistics weren’t as impressive as her leadership during the Eagles’ run to the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A state championship match.

Skinner’s impressive portfolio made her an obvious choice as the Shelby County Reporter Player of the Year in 2010.

CRAFT LEADS ALL-COUNTY FOOTBALL TEAM

Briarwood Christian School junior quarterback Ben Craft didn’t simply rely on his arm during the Lions’ 2010 season.

Craft was eager to use his feet as well to lead the Briarwood offensive attack.

Craft came up with crafty ways to help the Lions move the ball on his way to Shelby County Reporter Player of the Year honors.

WARRIORS WIN SECOND TOURNAMENT TITLE

The Thompson High School boys’ basketball team is two-for-two this season.

The Warriors have check-marked two team goals, according to coach Patrick Davis.

Thompson won its first tournament championship of the season over Thanksgiving at Chelsea.

The Warriors won their second tournament title of the year following a 42-37 win over Briarwood Christian in the Shelby County tournament championship game Dec. 21 at BankTrust Arena on the University of Montevallo campus.

BRIARWOOD GIRLS WIN TOURNAMENT TITLE

Briarwood Christian School girls’ basketball coach Jim Brown takes the Shelby County tournament seriously.

Brown, who led the Lions to a tournament championship in 1997, decided to hang a banner inside the Briarwood gymnasium to mark the occasion.

The Lions will have to make room for another piece of cloth following Briarwood’s 43-31 win over defending Shelby County tournament champion Oak Mountain in the championship game Dec. 21 at BankTrust Arena on the University of Montevallo campus.

THOMPSON WRESTLERS WIN ALABAMA DUALS

The Thompson High School wrestling squad won the second-annual Alabama Duals championship Dec. 22-23 at Samford University’s Pete Hanna Center.

The Warriors won eight dual meets in a row over the two-day span to capture the title.