E.A. Sports Today

Gators on prowl again

East Alabama pee-wee football program expecting its best year yet, opens its season Saturday

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Antwon Fegans has been running the East Alabama Gators youth football program for five years now and he’s more excited about it this year than ever.

“This is going to be our strongest bunch,” he said. “The whole program, from 6-and-under up, is going to be hard to beat. I don’t know anybody is going to lose this year. This is probably going to be the strongest year we’ve had.”

And they’ve claimed national championships before.

The Gators’ four teams open their Central Youth Football League season Saturday on the road against the Gadsden Saints. Their home opener at Anniston High School is Sept. 10 against the Odenville Saints.

All four teams went to the league championship last year and three won it. The only team that missed was the 10-and-unders, but it is expected to be one of the Gators’ strongest teams this year with 10 returning starters.

It’s last year’s hiccup that is fueling the drive.

“They’re older and they’re hungry,” Fegans said. “Once you get beat and you haven’t been beaten it wakes you up.”

The program’s head coaches are Quincy Dudley (6-and-under), Randall Sherman (8-and-under), Darnell Kite (10-and-under) and Rodney Taylor (12-and-under). Fegans had the 10U team last year, but stepped back to become the offensive coordinator of this year’s 8s and provide oversight to all four squads.

Two keys to the Gators’ consistency are most of their players have been together since they were 5 and their approach to getting it done.

“We put in a lot of hard work,” Fegans said. “There’s not a pee-wee team that works as hard as us. We probably work more than a high school team.”

And the local high school coaches certainly have to appreciate that approach. Among the Gators’ alumni are current Oxford players Tyetus Smith Lindsey, Kendall McCallum, Asante Ferrell and Denico Tanner.

“We take pride in our program and not just on the pee-wee level,” Fegans said. “Our kids who stay with the program, when they get to school ball they’re already to play; they make the coaches’ job easy. That’s how we build them up. We don’t build them to play pee-wee football, we do it to play school ball.”

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