By Gary Lloyd SCOOBA, Miss. – Former Clay-Chalkville High School and University of Alabama standout defensive lineman Quinton Dial is being inducted into the East Mississippi Community College Sports Hall … Continue reading Former Clay, Crimson Tide standout heads to EMCC Hall of Fame
Tag: Clay-Chalkville High School
Paws and Claws or Pause and Clause?
Former student-athletes weigh in on Hewitt, Clay rivalry I saw a post on Twitter last week that said, “Give me a horror story from your specialty in five words or … Continue reading Paws and Claws or Pause and Clause?
THIS STORY APPEARS IN GARY LLOYD’S BOOK, VALLEY ROAD: UPLIFTING STORIES FROM DOWN SOUTH. GET IT HERE. So much about that high school football season was tough. A player dying during a … Continue reading Tough runs
Paying it forward
This story appears in Gary Lloyd’s book, Valley Road: Uplifting Stories from Down South. Get it here. He remembers that the 6-foot-5, 220-pound lineman always looked sad. He was always so … Continue reading Paying it forward
Briarwood Christian hires new football coach
Forester ‘key component’ to Lions’ success for over a decade By Gary Lloyd BIRMINGHAM – I should not be able to write this story. I have covered Briarwood Christian School … Continue reading Briarwood Christian hires new football coach
Super 7 move to Auburn, Tuscaloosa a ‘happy accident’
AUBURN, Ala. – The Alabama High School Athletic Association’s wildly popular Super 7 football championship left Birmingham’s venerable Legion Field in 2009 for Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, a new tradition was … Continue reading Super 7 move to Auburn, Tuscaloosa a ‘happy accident’
‘The right guy’
Homewood QB leaves legacy, looks toward future By Gary Lloyd HOMEWOOD – Larkin Williams didn’t always want to play football, but now the Homewood High School senior quarterback is pushing … Continue reading ‘The right guy’
JefCoEd seniors earn more than $62 million in scholarships
By Gary Lloyd
Educators in Jefferson County, Alabama, have more than sixty-two million reasons to smile.
The graduating seniors from the Class of 2018 from the fourteen Jefferson County Schools high schools earned a total of $62,257,917.50 in scholarships.
That’s enough money to buy sixty-two Manhattan apartments. Or pay LeBron James’ salary for two NBA seasons. But most importantly, it’s enough to impact dozens of lifetimes for these students.
The Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School accounted for more than $13 million in scholarships. Minor High School’s seniors earned more than $8 million, while McAdory earned more than $6 million. Gardendale High finished with a touch more than $4 million in scholarships. Finishing with more than $3 million in scholarship money each were Center Point, Clay-Chalkville, Fultondale, Pinson Valley, and Shades Valley high schools. Corner, Hueytown, Mortimer Jordan, Oak Grove, and Pleasant Grove high schools all earned more than $2 million each in scholarships.
A video tribute to these schools and students is posted on the district’s website, and it ends with writer Henry David Thoreau’s quote: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
Those words are right on the money.
Pitches and promises
The sophomore pitcher circled the mound before the first batter stepped into the box, and then he bent over behind the rubber. He extended his left hand and began to use his index finger as a pencil for the cool dirt. It was winter, and the high school baseball season was just underway. He was set to face his high school’s arch rival, one of the best teams in the state of Alabama. The sophomore had already won his first three starts as a varsity pitcher, including a five-inning no-hitter, striking out nine batters in a shortened game due to the mercy rule. He was an ace. But against his team’s rival, he should have been nervous. He was a sixteen-year-old pitching against a great team, after all. But he was as cool as he could be. He was pitching with purpose.
GET VALLEY ROAD: UPLIFTING STORIES FROM DOWN SOUTH HERE
Not long before the game, he stood in his coach’s office in the stadium’s press box, and talked about his purpose with a reporter. His mother died the previous October after battling breast cancer for nearly two years. The family found out about her diagnosis on Valentine’s Day when the sophomore was an eighth-grader, in the drive-thru at a Wendy’s. When she died, his mother was fifty years old. Just before she died, her son promised her two things — that he would marry a woman who reflected her and that he would pitch his way to college baseball.
“When people lose family members, some rarely get the opportunity to talk with them and say goodbye,” he says. “Barring the situation, I feel really thankful I was able to do that. When my mom was on hospice care, I got to be around her a lot. While she wasn’t very responsive, you could tell when she was hearing and listening to you. I got the chance to tell my mom how thankful I was to have her as my mom, and she taught me more (about) life than she would ever know. Getting to tell the person who gave you everything in life how thankful you are for it and how much you love them for the sacrifices they gave to benefit your life is something that will give you peace to any situation. I also promised her things in life that I would accomplish for her – in memory of her.”
He left the press box after a fifteen-minute interview and warmed up for the game. Just prior to the first pitch, he bent down to etch his mother’s initials and the breast cancer symbol on the backside of the pitcher’s mound. He proceeded to hurl a complete-game five-hitter, allowing his only two earned runs in the top of the seventh, the final inning. His team won 3-2. He struck out six batters. He finished his first varsity season with nine wins and one loss for a team that won the area championship.
“The support I had from my baseball team that season was something that was beyond special,” he says. “I felt so close to all those guys and I knew they were behind me supporting me through that time.”
His head coach that season was supportive. After the win over the team’s biggest rival, the coach talked about how his pitcher’s tough situation ministered to his team, how instead of the team ministering to him, his family ministered to the team. He called it amazing.
Over his final two seasons of high school baseball, the pitcher compiled twelve wins against just four losses and a 1.88 earned-run average. He struck out more than one hundred batters.
For his efforts, he earned scholarship offers from several college programs around the Southeast. He chose the one closest to home, to be near his longtime girlfriend and son, who was born when he was a high school junior. His plan was to propose to his girlfriend during one of his college baseball seasons. He did so on the first weekend of the 2017 college baseball season. She said yes.
“I feel like it is a promise kept, and I am blessed to be in the situation I am in,” he says. “I will always look back to my coaches and teammates during the hardest time in my life and see the positive impact they had on my life, and where I am now is because of all they did for me during this time in my life.”
As far as his mound ritual, the pitcher no longer etches his mother’s initials in the mound, but they are written across his glove, so that she will always be there for him every time he steps on a mound. He looks back to that sophomore season as a blessed time.
“Going through things like that will always be hard, but when you have people surrounding you and providing love and encouragement, it gives you a peace about it,” he says.
My top 10 moments from 2017 high school football season
Postseason lists seem to be popular, so, on a whim, I decided to make my own.
These are the top 10 moments I experienced from the 2017 high school football season. Please know that these are only stories I wrote from games I attended. I can’t legitimately comment on a game I didn’t attend.
So here we go.
10. The question mark about Briarwood Christian coming into 2017 was the quarterback position. Replacing William Gray was going to be tough. Michael “Magic Mike” Hiers stepped up to the challenge. Look for a feature on Hiers on http://www.280Living.com soon.
9. Mountain Brook’s Harold Joiner shows how great of a running back he is in the season opener, rushing for 195 yards and four touchdowns against Gulf Shores. One of his scores, a 19-yard touchdown run, included juking a defender and diving for the pylon from four yards out.
8. Carson Eddy leaves a strong legacy at Briarwood Christian, including a pretty funny nickname. One of his teammates, Carson Donnelly, will beat you at ping pong.
7. The trilogy matchup between Briarwood Christian and Wenonah was supposed to be epic. Instead, the Lions roared.
6. Chelsea fell to 0-6 after a 41-28 loss at Gardendale, but that record meant absolutely nothing. The Hornets fought hard.
5. Mountain Brook scores 25 unanswered points against Huffman in a game the Spartans could have quit on.
4. It was the only time I saw Hoover in 2017, but the 59-7 win over Oak Mountain showed you everything you needed to know about the Bucs, who went on to win the Class 7A state title.
3. The Spartans fall at Thompson in Class 7A second round, where Taulia Tagovailoa showed how great of a quarterback he is.
2. David Robertson gets hot in the freezing cold to lead Homewood to a thrilling comeback over Fort Payne in the Class 6A playoffs.
1. Pinson Valley and Clay-Chalkville battle in the Class 6A semifinals, a game that meant so much more than a trip to the state championship.
That’s my list. What are your favorite moments from the 2017 season?