E.A. Sports Today

Next man up

Munford Lions play to that mindset after losing both coordinators, best player in offseason; Zayy Britt ruled eligible at Oxford

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

TALLADEGA – To say this has been a summer of change for the Munford Lions football program would be a gross understatement.

It started when Lions head coach Bill Smith lost his two coordinators in June – one to a head coaching job and the other to a full-time position in the ministry – and spent the next couple weeks putting his coaching staff back together in advance of playing up in Class 5A for the first time in school history.

Then, he lost his best athlete and the player with whom he planned to build his offense around to the Class 6A team the Lions open their season against, a transfer that played out at times on social media.

The state looked into Zayy and Warren Britt’s transfer to Oxford, particularly as it related to their participation in former Oxford standout Kwon Alexander’s summer football camp and who was conducting the drills in which they were involved. Investigators conducted interviews at Oxford as recently as early last week East Alabama Sports Today has learned.

On Thursday, Munford officials were informed Zayy was eligible to play for the Yellow Jackets; the small and speedy receiver and return specialist should line up against his former team when the teams play in Munford Aug. 24 (or 23 if the Lions move the game). The news wasn’t so good for Warren; he was ruled ineligible for the year.

“It’s sort of been a summer of adversity,” Smith said during Friday’s Talladega County Football Media Day at Talladega Superspeedway. “The one thing you always know that’s going to stay the same is things don’t stay the same.”

For the Lions it has always been a matter of “next man up,” and they have already begun devising ways to circumvent some of Britt’s projected lost production. Still, it will be difficult to look across the field on opening night and see one of their own in different colors, especially one as explosive as Britt.

“For the month of June I had been sort of game-planning with Zayy in mind,” Smith said. “I had told him I wanted him to be what I thought would be the first person in the state to throw for 1,000 (yards), rush for 1,000 and receive for 1,000. I didn’t know if that had ever been done, but I told him that was my goal for him, and to be the 5A Back of the Year. Obviously that changed.

“Now I have to look at the pieces of the puzzle that we have. As a coordinator for many years I had pride in the fact we had ‘X’ amount of yards, ‘X’ amount of passing yards, ‘X’ amount of points. But now as a head coach who will resume play-calling responsibilities our obligation is to this team and how can we design an offense, an offensive philosophy, that utilizes our personnel to the best of our ability to put our team in a position to be successful and win a game.”

When asked about playing the Yellow Jackets for the first time since before many of their fathers were born, the Lions said all the right things. Asked if there was a little more juice to the game with a former teammate on the other side, Lions center Payton Graben said flatly, “yes, by far.”

But the Munford players won’t be the only ones looking across the line and seeing a familiar face; the Yellow Jackets will, too. Lions safety Cam Lemons played for Oxford from the eighth grade to the second semester of his sophomore year.

In terms of the staff shakeup, Smith will become passing-game coordinator, former White Plains assistant Blake Snider will be the run-game coordinator, Wes Johnson will coach wide receivers and the Lions will be looking for a volunteer assistant to help with the offense. Defensively, Darrell Smith has moved from offensive line to defensive line and co-defensive coordinator with secondary coach Charles Graves and Derrick Stevens will coach linebackers.

“I feel like our staff is strong,” Smith said. “First of all, they’re good men and I’d rather have good men than guys who have great track records with Xs and Os who have questionable character. When you have to spend the kind of hours we’re about to have to spend together to make sure these young men are put in great positions to have great chances to succeed you want good people you don’t mind spending a lot of time around.”


Aug. 24 – Oxford
Aug. 31 – Talladega
Sept. 7 – at Clay Central
Sept. 14 – Center Point
Sept. 21 – Springville
Sept. 28 – at Lincoln
Oct. 5 – at Moody
Oct. 12 – Mortimer Jordan
Oct. 19 – at St. Clair County
Oct. 26 – Sylacauga

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