Tuberville, Moore visits highlight year in local sports
Published 12:35 pm Thursday, December 31, 2009
Two thousand nine was full of spectacular games and interesting events in Chilton County sports.
Perhaps what stood out the most were visits from two college football icons.
Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was the recipient of the Chilton Auburn Club’s 43rd Annual Unsung Hero Award, and Alabama athletic director Mal Moore was a guest speaker the local UA alumni association chapter’s banquet.
The list of the year’s top sports stories:
Chilton County’s girls and boys team win county basketball tournament championships, with Thorsby teams providing the competition in both games. It was the seventh consecutive county title for the CCHS boys.
Two Chilton County wrestlers—Colby Bernier at 152 pounds and Caleb Mims at 125 pounds—qualified for the state meet in only the program’s second year of existence.
New AHSAA regulations for officials and locations of track meets made it impossible for competitions to be held in the county and effectively priced one local school, Maplesville, out of the sport.
Seventh-grader Jake Long was carried off the court after his 10-6 win in the No. 6 singles position gave Jemison’s boys tennis team its first win over area rival St. James, 5-4, in coach Benton Morton’s eight years. “The whole place watching, girls and boys…the pressure,” Morton said. “I couldn’t even watch myself.”
Isabella outlasts Thorsby, 18-16, in an eight-inning slugfest of a softball game. The two teams combined for 38 hits, 11 walks and nine errors and scored in 13 of 16 half-innings. The game was either tied or the lead changed hands on nine occasions.
Thorsby baseball coach Ab Argent earned his 100th win in his fifth year at the school when the Rebels beat Billingsley, 5-0. “Some of the kids have been keeping up with it, and I’ll say, ‘Hey, let’s just play,’” Argent said. “When they’re so excited about it, you stop and think, well maybe this is pretty neat.”
Chilton County’s baseball team defeats Carver-Montgomery, 9-8, to secure the program’s first playoff berth since 2003 in coach Josey Shannon’s first season. Carver rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the game ended on a pop up to Derek Coker.
Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was given the Chilton Auburn Club’s 43rd Unsung Hero Award at a banquet that was attended by Tuberville’s wife, Tuberville’s mother, three former players, seven former award recipients and about 250 others.
Thorsby won the county baseball tournament with a 5-3 decision over Jemison. The tournament was the first to be played somewhere other than Clanton’s Jack Hayes field (it was held in Jemison), was postponed because of severe weather and didn’t include two county teams: Verbena and Chilton County, the four-time defending champion. And Thorsby coach Ab Argent wasn’t in the dugout, choosing instead to scout the Rebels’ first-round playoff opponent, Ranburne.
Chilton County, Isabella and Jemison participated in what would come to be known as the sport’s first county tournament, which was held at the Clanton Country Club. It was the first time at least three county golf teams teed it up at the same event. CCHS recorded the best score, a 145.
Chilton County’s tennis team, in its fourth year, earned a berth in the state tournament for the first time, while Jemison’s boys team accomplished the feat for the fifth time in a row.
Maplesville’s Brian Bailey was named The Clanton Advertiser’s boys basketball player of the year, and Thorsby’s Corey Clements was honored as the coach of the year. About one week later, Isabella’s Amber Wyatt and Maplesville’s Eric Bailey were given the girls player and coach of the year honors, respectively.
Chilton County claimed its second county softball championship in three years by winning four games in the tournament’s last day, the last of which was a 6-0 win over Maplesville.
The AHSAA postpones all scheduled postseason events because of concerns over swine flu. “It’s kind of thrown everybody for a loop,” said Maplesville softball coach Ashlie Harrison, whose team was supposed to play in an area tournament at Holy Spirit.
Maplesville’s softball advanced to the state tournament with a 20-8 win over Wadley and a 15-4 win over Billingsley in the South Central Region Tournament.
A 16-year-old Jemison High School student was arrested for making terrorist threats through his MySpace page. According to Jemison Police Chief Shane Fulmer, the student said he would “shoot up the school” and compared the planned event to the Virginia Tech shootings.
Chilton County’s Ben Handley and Josey Shannon were named The Clanton Advertiser’s baseball player and coach of the year, respectively. One week later, the Maplesville duo of Katlyn Freeman and Ashlie Harrison was named softball player and coach of the year.
Citing a need to work closer to his family, Billingsley football coach Kevin LeSueur resigned to return to Prattville, where he previously served as an assistant coach for six seasons. Assistant coach Jeremy Carter, nephew of legendary Billingsley coach James Carter and a member of the 1997 Bears state championship team, was named LeSueur’s successor.
Stacy McGehee was named the new boys basketball coach at Jemison, taking over a program that won only a handful of games the year before. “I know, for one, there are athletes at Jemison, talent to work with,” McGehee said.
A drug testing program was approved for students at Chilton County High School that participate in extra-curricular activities. Athletic directors at all other county schools also said they would favor testing, and School Superintendent Keith Moore said other schools would be welcome to submit their own proposals.
Clay Shearer was approved by the Chilton County Board of Education as Isabella’s new baseball coach. Shearer comes to Isabella from Vinemont, where in one season he led the Class 3A Eagles to the Area 12 championship despite having only 11 players on the squad.
The Thorsby volleyball team won its first match against a county foe in coach Ginger Williams’ four-year tenure by downing Chilton County High, 3-0. The Rebels would also defeat Jemison later in the season.
Chilton County High defeated Jemison, 19-12, its fourth win six tries against the rival Panthers. Jemison took possession of the football on its own 36-yard line with 2:22 left in the game and a chance to at least force an overtime, but CCHS defensive back Anthony Atchison intercepted a pass on the first play.
Amy Springer was named the new girls basketball coach at Isabella, and football coach Lanny Jones would assume the boys post shortly thereafter. Springer replaced Jones after spending two seasons as the coach at Cullman, and Jones replaced Glen Graham.
Jemison graduate Drake Anderson was chosen to portray Chief Osceola at Florida State football games. “It was really unbelievable; it’s so intense,” Anderson said. “Holding in the tunnel was the most nerve-wracking part, then you run onto the field. All I could see was a sea of red. You can feel the people yelling; it’s almost like the bass in a car.”
Maplesville’s football team, ranked No. 2 in Class 1A, dropped its first game of the season, 23-14 at No. 3 Linden, in a game that included Maplesville’s starting quarterback leave the game with an injury and the Devils draw back-to-back unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
Jemison won its fifth county volleyball tournament in seven tries since the tournament’s renewal in 2003. The Panthers defeated Isabella, 2-0, in what amounted to a championship match because both teams came in unbeaten in the round robin tournament.
Thorsby’s football team ended a 17-game winless streak with a 28-6 victory over Shades Mountain Christian.
Isabella’s volleyball team earned a berth in the Elite Eight state tournament-with a 3-2 win at Washington County—for the first time since 2006. Thorsby, meanwhile, lost at Leroy, 3-0, in their first-sub state appearance in program history.
Three county football teams played in first-round playoff games. Chilton County lost at Briarwood, 39-14, and Jemison lost at Anniston, 27-12. Host Maplesville defeated Talladega County Central, 48-13, but was knocked out of the playoffs one week later with a 18-12 loss at Loachapoka.
Jemison’s Kasi Wells is named The Clanton Advertiser’s Volleyball Player of the Year, and Thorsby’s Ginger Williams is honored as the Coach of the Year.