E.A. Sports Today

Brother helping brother

‘Herring Bowl’ highlights first football week as Oxford, Talladega play at Lamar Field; complete Calhoun County schedules

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Coaching brothers Ryan and Robert Herring always told each other if they ever were head coaches at the same time they’d play a game against each other.

It took a little while, but the game finally has been made. Ryan’s Oxford team will take on Talladega in the season opener for both that, frankly, is bigger for the older brother’s Tigers than it is for Oxford.

“I called him,” Robert said. “I said I see you don’t have a Game 1 and we need one; it just worked out.

“The first year I was here we were going to play, but it didn’t work out for us. Two years later it did. We needed it.”

So, now, after playing with each other and coaching with each other, they’ll be coaching against each other the next two years – with both games being played at Oxford’s Lamar Field.

This year’s reunion, Aug. 19, will be Talladega’s home game, meaning the Tigers draw the revenue, an anticipated $15,000 to $20,000 payday that will underwrite the Class 5A school’s entire athletics program for the year. Their biggest gate last year was the Sylacauga game, about $2,600.

“We’ll make more money off this game than we will our next four home games combined,” Robert said.

Robert expressed his desire to play his younger brother in answering a question posed by East Alabama Sports Today at last year’s Talladega County Football Media Day. He wasn’t sure it could happen, though, because of what he believed was Oxford’s desire to play non-region games against 6A or 7A teams.

Ryan said he would “rather play somebody else” because, in this circumstance, someone in the family is going to take a loss. He really wanted a local game for the opener and called “everybody” he could think of and Robert was the only taker.

The teams used to be great rivals, but hadn’t played since 2003. Oxford leads the series 31-18-3 and has won the last 20 meetings (22 of the last 23). Talladega’s last win in the series came in 1979.

“It used to be a big game up until the late 90s,” Ryan said. “It was always brutal. Even my senior year (1993), we won the state championship and we barely beat them (10-7). It was always a good game. I think when (Wayne) Grant left and they started hiring a coach every year it just ended.”

Football has been a struggle at Talladega since then. The Tigers haven’t had a .500 regular season since their last playoff appearance in 1995 and a winning season overall since 1994. They have 28 players in grades 9 through 12 this year; Oxford can have that many in a class. Robert has had a different defensive coordinator and offensive line coach every year. Ryan has two former head coaches on his staff.

“It’s not like it was in 1992,” Ryan said. “He’s not going to have the numbers we’re going to have this year … but I know his players are excited about playing us and I think our kids are excited.”

Perhaps the only ones who won’t be able to enjoy it are the parents; games between sibling coaches are always toughest on them. This one might be particular tough on their dad, Hall of Fame and longtime Oxford coach Robert Herring.

Robert Jr. said said dad would be on the Talladega side for this one. Ryan gets that.

“He wants Robert to do well, but he’s not going to pull against Oxford, I know that,” Ryan said. “They’ll want their oldest son to do well, but they don’t want to see Oxford lose.”

Here are the 2016 schedules for the Calhoun County football teams:

(Coach: Frank Tucker)

Aug. 26 – at Jacksonville
Sept. 2 – vs. Arab
Sept. 9 – at Boaz
Sept. 16 – vs. Etowah
Sept. 23 – vs. Cleburne County
Sept. 30 – at Scottsboro
Oct. 7 – vs. Douglas
Oct. 14 – vs. Guntersville
Oct. 21 – at Crossville

(Coach: Eddie Bullock)

Aug. 26 – vs. Sylacauga
Sept. 2 – vs. Ashville
Sept. 9 – Cherokee County
Sept. 16 – at Jacksonville
Sept. 23 – at Pell City
Sept. 30 – White Plains
Oct. 7 – at Saks
Oct. 14 – at Hokes Bluff
Oct. 21 – vs. Oneonta
Oct. 28 – at Fort Payne

(Coach: Andy McWilliams)

Aug. 19 – at Jacksonville Christian
Aug. 25 – at Horseshoe Bend
Sept. 2 – at Victory Christian
Sept. 9 – vs. Winterboro
Sept. 23 – vs. Spring Garden
Sept. 30 – at Appalachian
Oct. 7 – vs. Talladega County Central
Oct. 14 – at Ragland
Oct. 21 – vs. Wadley
Oct. 28 – vs. Woodland

(Coach: Clint Smith)

Aug. 19 – at Trinity Presbyterian
Aug. 26 – vs. Alexandria
Sept. 2 – vs. Saks
Sept. 9 – at Hokes Bluff
Sept. 16 – vs. Anniston
Sept. 30 – vs. Ashville
Oct. 7 – at Oneonta
Oct. 14 – vs. White Plains
Oct. 21 – at Cherokee County

(Coach: Tommy Miller)

Aug. 19 – vs. Donoho
Aug. 26 – vs. Whitesburg Christian
Sept. 2 – vs. Woodville
Sept. 9 – at Valley Head
Sept. 16 – at Coosa Christian
Sept. 23 – at Alabama School for the Deaf
Oct. 7 – vs. Spring Garden
Oct. 14 – vs. Cedar Bluff
Oct. 21 – at Gaylesville

(Coach: Scott Martin)

Aug. 19 – at Ragland
Aug. 26 – vs. White Plains
Sept. 2 – at Randolph County
Sept. 9 – vs. Pleasant Valley
Sept. 16 – at Weaver
Sept. 23 – vs. Ashville
Sept. 30 – vs. Wellborn
Oct. 14 – vs. Piedmont
Oct. 21 – at Glencoe
Oct. 28 – at Pisgah

(Coach: Ryan Herring)

Aug. 19 – vs. Talladega
Aug. 26 – at Gadsden City
Sept. 2 – vs. Brewer
Sept. 9 – at Cullman
Sept. 16 – vs. Albertville
Sept. 23 – vs. Benjamin Russell
Sept. 30 – at Southside-Gadsden
Oct. 7 – vs. Fort Payne
Oct. 14 – at Pell City
Oct. 28 – vs. Sumter Central

(Coach: Steve Smith)

Aug. 19 – vs. Cedartown (Ga.)
Aug. 26 – at Cherokee County
Sept. 2 – at Glencoe
Sept. 9 – vs. Randolph County
Sept. 16 – at Pleasant Valley
Sept. 23 – vs. Leeds
Sept. 30 – vs. Weaver
Oct. 7 – at Wellborn
Oct. 14 – at Ohatchee
Oct. 28 – vs. Oneonta

(Coach: Jonathan Nix)

Aug. 19 – vs. Vincent
Aug. 26 – vs. Gaston
Sept. 2 – vs. Wellborn
Sept. 9 – at Ohatchee
Sept. 16 – vs. Piedmont
Sept. 23 – at West End (Walnut Grove)
Sept. 30 – at Glencoe
Oct. 7 – at Randolph County
Oct. 21 – vs. Weaver
Oct. 28 – at Spring Garden

(Coach: Jonathan Miller)

Aug. 26 – vs. Wellborn
Sept. 2 – at Jacksonville
Sept. 9 – vs. White Plains
Sept. 16 – at Ashville
Sept. 23 – vs. St. Clair County
Sept. 30 – at Cherokee County
Oct. 7 – vs. Anniston
Oct. 14 – at Oneonta
Oct. 21 – vs. Hokes Bluff
Oct. 28 – at Weaver

(Coach: Daryl Hamby)

Aug. 19 – vs. Hayden
Aug. 26 – at B.B. Comer
Sept. 10 – at Wellborn
Sept. 16 – vs. Ohatchee
Sept. 23 – at Locust Fork
Sept. 30 – at Piedmont
Oct. 7 – vs. Glencoe
Oct. 14 – vs. Randolph County
Oct. 21 – at Pleasant Valley
Oct. 28 – vs. Saks

(Coach: Jeff Smith)

Aug. 26 – at Saks
Sept. 2 – at Pleasant Valley
Sept. 9 – vs. Weaver
Sept. 23 – vs. Talladega
Sept. 30 – at Ohatchee
Oct. 7 – vs. Piedmont
Oct. 14 – vs. Glencoe
Oct. 21 – at Randolph County
Oct. 27 — vs. White Plains

(Coach: Chris White)

Aug. 26 – at Ohatchee
Sept. 2 – vs. Oneonta
Sept. 9 – at Saks
Sept. 16 – vs. Hokes Bluff
Sept. 23 – at Westbrook Christian
Sept. 30 – at Anniston
Oct. 7 – at Cherokee County
Oct. 14 – at Jacksonville
Oct. 21 – vs. Ashville
Oct. 27 – at Wellborn

Aug. 19
Jacksonville at Trinity Presbyterian
Donoho at Jacksonville Christian
Ohatchee at Ragland
Talladega at Oxford
Cedartown (Ga.) at Piedmont
Vincent at Pleasant Valley
Hayden at Weaver
Wellborn at Westbrook Christian

Aug. 25
Donoho at Horseshoe Bend

Aug. 26
Alexandria at Jacksonville
Sylacauga at Anniston
Whitesburg Christian at Jacksonville Christian
White Plains at Ohatchee
Oxford at Gadsden City
Piedmont at Cherokee County
Gaston at Pleasant Valley
Wellborn at Saks
Weaver at B.B. Comer

Sept. 2
Arab at Alexandria
Ashville at Anniston
Donoho at Victory Christian
Woodville at Jacksonville Christian
Ohatchee at Randolph County
Brewer at Oxford
Piedmont at Glencoe
Wellborn at Pleasant Valley
Saks at Jacksonville
Oneonta at White Plains

Sept. 9
Alexandria at Boaz
Cherokee County at Anniston
Winterboro at Donoho
Jacksonville at Hokes Bluff
Jacksonville Christian at Valley Head
Pleasant Valley at Ohatchee
Oxford at Cullman
Randolph County at Piedmont
White Plains at Saks
Weaver at Wellborn

Sept. 16
Etowah at Alexandria
Anniston at Jacksonville
Jacksonville Christian at Coosa Christian
Ohatchee at Weaver
Albertville at Oxford
Piedmont at Pleasant Valley
Saks at Ashville
Hokes Bluff at White Plains

Sept. 23
Cleburne County at Alexandria
Leeds at Piedmont
Anniston at Pell City
Spring Garden at Donoho
Jacksonville Christian at Alabama School for the Deaf
Ashville at Ohatchee
Benjamin Russell at Oxford
Pleasant Valley at West End (Walnut Grove)
St. Clair County at Saks
Talladega at Wellborn
Weaver at Locust Fork
White Plains at Westbrook Christian

Sept. 30
Alexandria at Scottsboro
White Plains at Anniston
Donoho at Appalachian
Ashville at Jacksonville
Wellborn at Ohatchee
Oxford at Southside-Gadsden
Weaver at Piedmont
Pleasant Valley at Glencoe
Saks at Cherokee County

Oct. 7
Douglas at Alexandria
Anniston at Saks
Talladega County Central at Donoho
Jacksonville at Oneonta
Spring Garden at Jacksonville Christian
Fort Payne at Oxford
Piedmont at Wellborn
Pleasant Valley at Randolph County
Glencoe at Weaver
White Plains at Cherokee County

Oct. 14
Guntersville at Alexandria
Anniston at Hokes Bluff
Donoho at Ragland
Cedar Bluff at Jacksonville Christian
Piedmont at Ohatchee
Oxford at Pell City
Saks at Oneonta
Randolph County at Weaver
Glencoe at Wellborn
White Plains at Jacksonville

Oct. 21
Alexandria at Crossville
Oneonta at Anniston
Wadley at Donoho
Jacksonville at Cherokee County
Jacksonville Christian at Gaylesville
Ohatchee at Glencoe
Hokes Bluff at Saks
Weaver at Pleasant Valley
Wellborn at Randolph County
Ashville at White Plains

Oct. 27
Ohatchee at Pisgah
White Plains at Wellborn

Oct. 28
Anniston at Fort Payne
Woodland at Donoho
Sumter Central at Oxford
Oneonta at Piedmont
Pleasant Valley at Spring Garden
Saks at Weaver

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