Sunday Interview: Central head football coach talks about influences on his coaching career
High school football is finally back, and the regular season for local teams kicks off this week.
The Ledger-Enquirer is previewing each school in the coverage area as preps football season gets going.
Next up are the area’s Alabama schools: Central-Phenix City, Smiths Station and Russell County.
Central enters 2019 off the back of an undefeated Class 7A state championship season, and all signs point to another deep playoff run for the Red Devils.
The Red Devils boast Division 1 recruits across the board, headlined by quarterback and Bowling Green commit Tucker Melton, offensive lineman Javion Cohen (committed to Auburn) and receiver E.J. Williams, the No. 4 player in the state of Alabama according to 247 Sports, who is projected to pick Clemson over Auburn, Alabama and others.
That’s barely scratching the surface of the talent on the roster. The Red Devils were ranked No. 38 in High School Football America’s Preseason 100. They are one of two teams from Alabama featured in the rankings (Hoover, at No. 26).
That said, another perfect season for the Red Devils won’t come easy.
The Red Devils open with historic power Hoover, then play GHSA 3A state champion Cedar Grove one week later in the CIN Foundation Classic.
- Tucker Melton, quarterback
- E.J. Williams, receiver
- Javion Cohen, offensive lineman
- Mike Harris, safety
- VS. Hoover (AHSAA Kickoff Classic, Montgomery, Al.), August 23
- VS. Pratville, Sept. 13
- At Auburn, Oct. 25
A 6-4 record is, usually, enough for a playoff berth. Such was not the case for Smiths Station last season, which went 2-4 in the region and lost to all four teams that finished ahead of it in the Region 2 standings (Central, Auburn, Pratville, Lee Montgomery).
Still, a 6-4 season in head coach Mike Glisson’s first season at the helm is nothing to scoff at, and the Panthers look ready for more steps forward in Glisson’s second season.
The Panthers return a host of talent, namely on defense. Lorenzo Jones, Caleb Coleman and Dartanyon Cardoza all have offers (Cardoza and Jones from Division I programs), so the Panthers’ defense will be in good hands come Week 1.
The Panthers open with Russell County, then head to Central in Week 3. The schedule ramps up from there, and the Panthers play back-to-back games against Auburn and Pratville, separated by a bye week.
- Dartanyon Cardoza, defensive end
- Jordan Jones, linebacker
- Caleb Coleman, safety
- At Central, Sept. 6
- VS. Auburn, Oct. 11
- At Prattville, Oct. 25
Russell County ended 2018 with a 33-14 win over Booker T. Washington — a high point in a season full of otherwise low ones.
The Warriors finished 2-8 (1-5 in Class 6A Region 2), last in their region and gave up an average of 31 points per game, while scoring 17 per game. That’s not a recipe for success. However, the Warriors were not that far off from making the playoffs last year.
Northview and Eufaula each finished 3-3 in Region 2. Carver Montgomery finished 3-2 in the region. So, a playoff berth is not entirely out of the equation for Russell County, should the Warriors find a way to squeak out a few more wins in 2019.
- Tarik York, linebacker/safety
- Colton Danielson, offensive lineman/defensive end
- At Carver Montgomery, Sept. 6
- VS. Northview, Sept. 20
- At Eufaula, Oct. 11
The preview for the Glenwood Gators can be found at our area private schools preview.