E.A. Sports Today

It’s his show now

After three years sharing the spot, Hamby has Weaver QB job all to himself; also a look at Oxford, Ohatchee, Wellborn

Weaver quarterback Dalton Hamby throws a pass during the Bearcats spring game against Ohatchee. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER — For the past three seasons Dalton Hamby has been sharing the quarterback duties on the Weaver football team as his head coach father Daryl simply went with the flow of what was working to determine who was going to direct the Bearcats’ offense.

Daryl Hamby was never a big fan of the two-quarterback system, but it has always worked for Bearcats. The flow this season has fallen exclusively to senior Dalton and both quarterback and coach are looking forward to a big year.

Dalton’s shot to run the show on his own really has been four years in the making. As a freshman he was the program’s third-string quarterback who didn’t play much on the B team, but then the B team quarterback moved and he moved up the depth chart. A few weeks later sophomore starter Paul Hubbard got hurt and all of a sudden Dalton found himself the starter against No. 3 4A Saks.

“As a parent it scared the mess out of me, but this was the card we were dealt,” Daryl said. “He did a good job. We lost the game but he handled the game pretty well. We were happy, not about the outcome of the game, but we saw a lot of hope in Dalton.”

And he’s been in the mix ever since.

The Bearcats won three of their last five after that Saks game and made the playoffs. For the next two seasons, Hamby and Hubbard shared the job, each bringing different skill sets to it. It didn’t bother either one who was running the offense and the team made the playoffs both years.

“They didn’t have any ego,” Daryl said. “They just wanted to win.”

“I’ve always been a team guy regardless if it was Paul (at quarterback) or me,” Dalton said. “I’ve always thought I’m still gonna try my best to win whether we do a split quarterback or not. Every time I was on the field — even when I was thrown out there for the first time — it felt like that was my team instead of sharing with Paul. I never actually felt like I was sharing the position with somebody. I felt as soon as I got on the field I knew this was my huddle.”

With Hubbard graduated and the backup now a freshman, it’s all Dalton all the time this year. He was always focused but began sharpening his vision in the spring. He had a good May and did well the jamboree win over Ohatchee. He has gained enough experience and maturity through the years that at least one Weaver assistant told the head coach he thinks Dalton is savvy enough to call plays.

And savvy is the element Hamby looks for most in his quarterbacks.

It doesn’t hurt that Dalton will have weapons like speedy receivers Robert Gaines and London Knight at his disposal.

“I did change my mindset in the beginning of the summer time,” Dalton said. “As soon as track and baseball were over I knew the season was coming around and I would have to be that quarterback who’s not going to be able to come out … so I know I have to step up and be a leader.

“This year my first priority is really to get everybody together because without everybody being bonded as a team there’s going to be no foundation. There’s more people who look up to me and I thought the more I show them the right thing to do instead of focusing on myself the better the team will be.”


Coach: Daryl Hamby (38-40 Weaver, 7 years)

Aug. 25 – at Hayden
Sept. 1 – B.B. Comer
Sept. 8 – OPEN
Sept. 15 – Wellborn
Sept. 22 – at Ohatchee
Sept. 29 – Locust Fork
Oct. 6 – Piedmont
Oct. 13 – at Glencoe
Oct. 20 – at Randolph County
Oct. 27 – Pleasant Valley
Nov. 3 – at Saks


Coach: Ryan Herring (28-17 Oxford, 4 years; 74-48 overall)

Aug. 25 – Hillcrest Tuscaloosa
Sept. 1 – Gadsden City
Sept. 8 – at Brewer
Sept. 15 – Cullman
Sept. 22 – at Albertville
Sept. 29 – at Benjamin Russell
Oct. 6 – Southside Gadsden
Oct. 13 – at Fort Payne
Oct. 20 – Pell City
Oct. 27 – OPEN
Nov. 3 – at Sumter Central

OXFORD — Robert Herring’s fifth season at Oxford High School produced a state championship in 1989 and his son Ryan seems to have his Oxford Yellow Jackets poised to possibly duplicate his father’s feat in 2017.

Oxford had a 10-0 regular season last year before being stunned in the first round of the playoffs by Muscle Shoals, a fourth-place finisher in its region. Herring has a bevy of talent returning on both sides of the ball and the Jackets will find out what they are made of in the first game of the season against second-ranked Hillcrest of Tuscaloosa.

The Patriots had a similar experience as Oxford last season. They went through the regular season undefeated, then lost in the second round of the playoffs.

Oxford football history is one of the best in any class. Three state titles and 36 playoff appearances rank among the top of any school in any class.

Herring enters his fifth year with a record of 28-17 and returns starting quarterback Abe Peoples and all-state honorable mention running back Tyetus Smith-Lindsey. All-state national prospect Clay Webb (returns to anchor the offensive line. The offense averaged 33.8 points per game a year ago.

And it looks as if they have found a piece to make it more complete. Gabe Webb transferred in from Moody and has given the Jackets a back who can run it like a halfback (even on a direct snap), catch it like a tight end and block like a fullback.

“He reminds us of the guy from Tampa Bay, (Mike) Alstott,” Herring said. “We call him ‘Alstott,’ and we call him ‘Baby Hulk;’ he’s about as muscular as a kid as you can be … He looks like he’s going to fit in well.”

A defense that only gave up 13.5 points a game lost all-everything K.J. Britt to Auburn, but returns some quality people such as honorable-mention linebacker Brody Syer. In the spring it blanked Minor 20-0 and held the varsity to only 40 yards. Linebacker Denico Tanner recorded an 11-yard sack when the Tigers went for it on fourth down from their 42.


Coach: Scott Martin (17-17 Ohatchee, 3 years; 43-35 overall)

Aug. 25 – Ragland
Sept. 1 – at White Plains
Sept. 8 – Randolph County
Sept. 15 – at Pleasant Valley
Sept. 22 – Weaver
Sept. 29 – at Ashville
Oct. 6 – at Wellborn
Oct. 13 – OPEN
Oct. 20 – at Piedmont
Oct. 27 – Glencoe
Nov. 2 – Pisgah

OHATCHEE — What do you do for an encore? That’s the question Indians head coach Scott Martin will be answering this fall after a 2016 season that was their second best in school history. The Indians went 12-2 and played for a spot in the state championship game. They lost to region foe and state champion Piedmont twice and scored 61 points in those two losses against the best in the state.

It was just the beginning some folks think as the Indians have risen back to the top of Class 3A under Martin. Before his arrival, the Indians were 24-76 from 2004 to 2013; that has been wiped away from memory with last season’s romp to the state semi-finals.

The best season ever was the 1977 state championship team that went 13-1. It was the peak moment in a run from 1970 to 1981 that produced a record 111-23-1 Martin’s team of 2016 shattered the all-time record for points in a season with 589 points or an average of 42 points a game. They also set a single-game high for points in a 68-14 win over White Plains.

The Indians will be missing some key all-state players off of last year’s team in quarterback Taylor Eubanks and running back Austin Tucker as well as all-state lineman Caleb Montgomery. While Martin admits replacing those guys won’t be easy, the forecast for 2017 isn’t nearly as bleak as one might think as the Indians have another senior-laden squad.

Grayson Alward is firmly entrenched as the Indians’ quarterback and the ground game will be “running back by committee” with tailback Jesse Sellers and wingback Kevin Williamson. Cam McCombs and Dominique Thomas are also expected to see plenty of action.

“You don’t replace them,” Martin said, “but at the same time we’ve got very capable players. I’m very confident in what the guys that we have to replace them can do … You hope your young guys have followed suit and paid attention and done the things they’re supposed to do. I think we’ll be fine.”

While the offense received most of the acclaim, an equally impressive defense quietly suffocated its opponents, allowing just 18.8 points per game. It posted two shutouts – one in the playoffs – and held five opponents to seven points or fewer. Martin expects more of the same from that group in 2017.

“Our first inclination every time we walk out is to stack our defense,” he said. “Our D didn’t get the acclaim it deserved last year, but they were very good. They kept us in football games. We cannot win football games if we cannot stop teams offensively from scoring points.

“I’m anticipating that our defense is going to be good again.”


Coach: Jeff Smith (55-34 Wellborn, 8 years; 131-89 overall)

Aug. 24 – vs. North Jackson at JSU
Sept. 1 – Saks
Sept. 8 – Pleasant Valley
Sept. 15 – at Weaver
Sept. 22 – OPEN
Sept. 29 – at Talladega
Oct. 6 – Ohatchee
Oct. 13 – at Piedmont
Oct. 20 – at Glencoe
Oct. 27 – Randolph County
Nov. 2 – at White Plains

Football at Walter Wellborn High School has been a mirror image of a tough proud community that has battled through adversity over the years and stands tall today. The football program has gone from a 5A power, faced re-zoning and military base shut downs and has re-emerged on the other side as a 3A power, playing in the toughest region in the state.

There was the record breaking 13-1 team of 1977 under coach Johnny Ingram that made it to the finals, still holds the team record for the most points in the season, and lost to Andalusia 7-0. They were unbeaten in 1966 with a 9-0-1 season under the direction of Ed Deupree.

Then there were the low years from 1997 to 2008 that saw the football program fall from the ranks of the upper echelon. The program was revived with the return of Wellborn alumnus Jeff Smith who answered the call to come back home in 2009. The former great player in his own right as a 1986 all-state linebacker has brought the mojo back.

He has put together a 55-34 record and seven playoff appearances in eight years. The Panthers missed a playoff spot last year by one painful point in overtime at Randolph County. Tough defense and solid grind-it-out offense have been the characteristics of Smith’s Wellborn teams.

The four losses on last year’s schedule were to four teams in their region that made the Elite 8 in the playoffs and did not lose a game to outside competition in the playoffs (a perfect 9-0).

The Wellborn offense is led by Austin McQueen, one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the county. McQueen got his first start as a freshman in the 2014 playoffs when circumstances put him in the starting lineup against a powerhouse Madison Academy team. He has handled himself well and has emerged as the team leader on offense this year.

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