Sunday, June 15, 2008

More schools could see success in football in 2008

Will Heath

Keep ya head up
Oooo child things are gonna get easier

Keep ya head up

Ooooo child things are gonna get brighter

One thing I’ve learned in my brief time on this planet is that, eventually, everything comes back in style.

For example, during the recent Memorial Day holiday, I noted some friends of friends preparing for a raging night on the town one night. One of the girls — apparently deciding to go with the “so tacky it’s cute” look — had donned a pair of white tube socks with gold-and-black stripes. Coincidentally, somewhere deep in my mother’s photo album is a shot of a much younger me, wearing a Braves cap and the exact same ugly pair of white socks, pulled up nearly to my knees.

“Holy smokes,” I thought. “My old socks have come back in style.”

(Here’s the part where I admit that I’m actually not sure what’s in style, and that the definition of style varies from person to person. I’m totally comfortable with who I am in the style department. In fact, I’m wearing a pink polo shirt as I’m typing this. Seriously.)

Styles in pretty much everything are cyclical. Even in sports, the Boston Celtics came back in style, thanks in large part to the ongoing Celtics-Lakers battle in the NBA Finals, which has caused me to rearrange my work schedule since it started.

The same is true in football. The single-wing was an offensive innovation of the mid-20th century, largely identified with General Neyland and the Tennessee Volunteers.

Nearly 50 years later, the single-wing came back in style, thanks to Rich Rodriguez, Urban Meyer and others who re-packaged it as the “spread option.”

(Quick tangent: what would General Neyland have said if he saw Tim Tebow?)

The idea that things come back in style should be encouraging to football fans in Talladega County, who have seen more downs than ups from their gridders for the better part of this decade.

A quick look at the recent history of county football tells the tale: since 2000, the county has seen two teams qualify for postseason play in each season.

That’s not an average, mind you — that’s the actual number. Two teams each season.

The year 2000 was the last time more than two qualified, when Talladega Co. Central, Lincoln and B.B. Comer all made it.

Most recently, much of the county suffered through a fall malaise — not only were Lincoln and TC the only two teams to qualify for postseason play, among those that didn’t, only Munford and Fayetteville even finished with records above .500.

It certainly looks like a bleak picture when it comes to football.

Ah, but optimism abounds.

The aforementioned two who just missed out on the playoffs (Munford and Fayetteville) are looming as major sleepers in their regions for this fall. Young teams like Sylacauga and Childersburg are re-dedicating themselves to correct the agonizing results of 2007

Coaching changes at Winterboro and B.B. Comer, in addition to some realignment, have those programs looking up. And Lincoln and Talladega County Central ... well, they’re still themselves.

That leaves Talladega High. As most locals will tell you, no team has had a more frustrating 10 years than the red and white — not only have they not made the playoffs since 1995, they haven’t finished better than 3-7 in any season since then.

Still, second-year head coach Bill Granger has the young Tigers bubbling coming out of spring practice, where he estimated “85 or 90” showed up.

“To have this response out here now is really exciting to me,” Granger said during the spring. “It just pumps me up here at the end of the year and gives me the adrenaline to enjoy this wonderful game the way it’s supposed to be.”

Who knows? Maybe the time is right for county football to come back in style.

The Daily Home, P.O. Box 977, Talladega, AL 35161

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