Champions Challenge features six first-time competitors

Published 1:48pm Wednesday, August 21, 2013

MONTGOMERY — Six high schools will be making their Champions Challenge debuts at Cramton Bowl Friday and Saturday as the eighth annual tripleheader kicks off the 2013 high school football season.
The opening clash at 7 p.m. Friday pits Class 5A powers Benjamin Russell (11-2) and Walker (9-4) in the event hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
A doubleheader is slated Saturday with Class 3A Straughn (10-4) taking on Class 2A Walter Wellborn (9-3) at 5 p.m., followed by rising Class 6A powers Bob Jones (9-3) and Enterprise (7-4) at 7:30 p.m.
While the preseason games are not counted on the participants’ season records, all six head coaches agreed that all are excited about playing on center stage this weekend. Benjamin Russell Coach Danny Horn, who coached Clay County in 2006’s inaugural Champions Challenge, said being selected to this prestigious showcase event is a compliment to the participants’ programs.
While the preseason games are not counted on the participants’ season records, all six head coaches agreed that all are excited about playing on center stage this weekend. Benjamin Russell Coach Danny Horn, who coached Clay County in 2006’s inaugural Champions Challenge, said being selected to this prestigious showcase event is a compliment to the participants’ programs.
“I don’t think if we had finished 1-9 last year that we would be here,” he said. “It’s a compliment to our kids and the coaching staff. I’ve got some great assistants and the administration has been wonderful. We’ve made great strides, and the kids have bought in to what we want them to do and done a good job with that. We know Walker is here because of their successes as well.”
Walker Coach John Holladay said the Vikings have been hampered by rain this pre-season but the other schools have had some of the same difficulties. “We are just proud to be able to play a quality opponent in a game like this,” said Holladay.
Not forgotten by the two 5A coaches is last year’s event 5A winner Spanish Fort’s march to the 2012 state championship following the Toros’ 33-22 win over Muscle Shoals. The Trojans also won 13 straight games before falling to McAdory in the state playoff semifinals.
Bob Jones Coach Kevin Rose said his team is glad to be in this year’s event. “We think we have one of the top programs in north Alabama and are eager to show how competitive we think we can be,” he said. “We know Enterprise feels the same way.”
David Faulkner, the Enterprise head coach, said it is an honor to play in the Champions Challenge and to face Bob Jones.
“It really truly is an honor to bring our proud football tradition to Montgomery and play against such a quality opponent as Bob Jones High School,” Faulkner said. “We are looking forward to coming out Saturday and getting the opportunity to represent our school and our community.”
Faulkner said none of the teams in the Champions Challenge can afford to take these games lightly.
“With the climate around the game, you can’t take the ho-hum approach,” Faulkner said. “You have to get your team ready to play a football game. If you come into this ball game with your average jamboree approach, you can get embarrassed very quickly. We will do all we can to prepare to play well and will treat it as a ballgame. It will be a playoff-caliber opponent, so it will be a playoff-caliber game. We are looking forward to that and the opportunity to test our team.”
Straughn Coach Trent Taylor led the Tigers to the Class 3A semifinals last season before falling to Fayette County. He said his senior-laden team has been building off that momentum. Walter Wellborn Coach Jeff Smith, who led the Panthers to the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs last season, said he realizes his team will still be 0-0 after the game. However, he said, “We will enter the game like it’s a regular season battle so this can’t do anything but help us. It’s going to be a big test, but it is also a great opportunity for our school and our football team. We are eager to play.”
The Champions Challenge will be broadcast live over the AHSAA Radio Network as well as live-streamed by PlayOn! Sports over the AHSAA TV Network. The link is http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/64751. It will be the first production for the NFHS TV Network from the AHSAA.

Television: AHSAA TV Network (PlayOn! Sports) will web-stream all three games live over the
AHSAA TV/Internet Network: http://www.theahsaanetwork.com/browse/upcoming

Radio: The AHSAA State Radio Network will broadcast all three games live over its network of affiliates
and an online link can also be found at www.ahsaa.com.

CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE HISTORY
2012
Spanish Fort 33, Muscle Shoals 22
Central of Clay County 25, Beauregard 13
McGill-Toolen 27, Northridge 0
2011
Hueytown 36, Thomasville 27
Hamilton 38, Sweet Water 35
Daphne 24, Clay-Chalkville 21
2010
Opelika 34, Greenville 6
Auburn 30, Spain Park 3
Jackson 30, Trinity 8
2009
Prattville 37, Carver-Montgomery 0
T.R. Miller 27, Leeds 7
Hoover 32, Oxford 27
2008
Prattville vs. Oxford, canceled due to inclement weather
2007
Prattville 36, North Gwinnett, Ga. 3
2006
Hoover 38, UMS-Wright 0
Clay-County 41, Addison 6

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