E.A. Sports Today

Share the feeling

State’s Alabama-Mississippi head coach Raney sought first-year assistants to give them the same thrill he had when first asked to participate
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
MONTGOMERY – Spain Park football coach Shawn Raney still gets goosebumps when he remembers the first time he was asked to serve as an assistant in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. Now that he’s the game’s head coach he wanted the coaches on his staff to experience the same feeling.
So, when he set out to build his staff for the December game at the University of Southern Mississippi he specifically sought coaches who would be getting their first shot at the prestigious game.
Of course, he chose a veteran – Central-Phenix City coach Jamey DuBose – to be his offensive coordinator, but for the most part all the others are new to this thing. Minor head coach Adrian Abrams, Raney’s choice for defensive coordinator, couldn’t have fit the bill more perfectly; he was in his first year as a head coach last year.
“Going to Mississippi, I wanted a group of guys who had never been in this game,” said Raney, introduced as the team’s coach at Tuesday’s AHSAA Media Day. “I remember the first time I coached in it and they called and asked, it was a huge honor.”
Raney, Spain Park’s coach the last six years, will have the charge of breaking a couple two-game losing streaks. Alabama has lost the last two games in the series and the last two games played in Hattiesburg.
The selection committee for the game met for the first time last week. One Calhoun County player certainly on the radar is Jacksonville running back Ron Wiggins. With more than 300 players initially under consideration for the game, Raney declined to discuss specific players. Piedmont coach Steve Smith is on the evaluation staff, concentrating on kickers, punters and tight ends.
Raney said the process is quite interesting.
“It’s kind of like building an NFL team with a salary cap,” he said. “It’s really neat how it works, so right now we’re scattered all over the state.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Instant replay will again be a part of the Alabama high school season all the way through the playoffs. The AHSAA is starting the second year of its three-year replay “experiment” with the DVSport system in place at both Super 7 venues (Auburn and Alabama). 
Coaches are still hesitant about it, mostly for cost reasons (about $5,000 for the three years), but others, like Piedmont’s Smith, because it removed the human element out of it.
In reflecting on last year’s initial use, AHSAA head of officials Mark Jones said the most surprising thing was how well it did work” and the most disappointing was “how few of schools are taking advantage of it.”
Only about 20 schools had the system in place last year and 91 got to experience it, Jones said. He said 25 percent of challenged calls were overturned. One team, East Limestone, took the system with it to road games. 
HEROES’ WELCOME: AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese recognized Dale County head coach Don Moore and his staff Tuesday for their quick action in helping save the life of a player who collapsed on the practice field two weeks ago.
Moore recounted the story Tuesday and said sophomore WR-DB Adaveion Jackson’s heart had stopped for at least 13 seconds before the coaches revived him with the help of one of many strategically placed Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) on their campus the way it would fire extinguishing equipment. The recognition gave the Dale County contingent an opportunity to advocate for having an emergency action plan and the availability of AEDs in schools.
“These coaches are heroes,” Dale County superintendent Ben Baker said. “They saved the life of a child because they were prepared and they were ready … Their actions saved the life of a child but that AED is what brought him back to life.”
Jackson was at practice watching his teammates last Wednesday. 
“With that being said, nothing else I could probably do as far as wins and loses amounts to that, him having a chance to live his life to the fullest and be whatever he wants to do,” Moore said.

KICKOFF CLASSIC: The 14thAHSAA Kickoff Classic opens the statewide schedule Thursday and Friday at Cramton Bowl with a rivalry game one night and a game of national prominence the next.
The event opens Thursday with Jeff Davis and Carver-Montgomery playing the 51strenewal of their rivalry that goes back to 1970. The Friday night game features defending 7A state champion Central-Phenix City and Hoover, teams ranked 11 and 23, respectively, nationally by The Sporting News.
“I told the players there’s going to be a good team and a really good team (playing) and after Friday night we’ll figure out which one we are,” Hoover coach Josh Niblett said.

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