BY JOSH FRYE
Coaches and players from three Escambia County, Ala. schools and one Florida school, along with those from several other areas schools, met at J.U. Blacksher High last Saturday, August 10, for Al.com’s annual media day.
Out of eight schools invited, seven local high school football teams were represented at the event. Escambia County High, J.U. Blacksher and Northview High, each in the Atmore News coverage area, attended as did state champions Flomaton High and Monroe Academy, along with J.F. Shields and Monroe County.
Escambia Academy was the only invited school that was absent from the event, and that was due to prior school-related obligations.
Head coaches from each team brought three of the top players from this year’s team. Each head coach took his turn at the podium inside the J.U. Blacksher library, in front of local and AHSAA media to answer questions and offer up pre-season comments and information. The players also answered questions put forth by media members.
As coaches and player took their place in front of the media, each explained why this season was going to be exciting and successful.
Flomaton High, last year’s AHSAA Class 3A state champions, kicked off the mass press conference.
Flomaton’s Hurricanes produced a true Cinderella season last year. After defeating rival T.R. Miller, the Hurricanes went 12-3 overall and advanced to the title game, where they beat Piedmont High 23-12 for their first state championship in FHS history.
Each of the local high schools got a turn at the podium. The one thing that each program’s head coach and player had in common was a main goal of being the last standing at the end of the season.
ECHS was the only school in attendance which has a new head coach.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we will succeed this year,” ECHS head coach Scott Mason said. “We are a team that stands up for one another and you’re either with us or you’re an enemy.”
Mason explained that the Blue Devils look to improve this season, and their style of play will resemble basketball on grass due to the quickness of their game.
Mason also introduced highly touted, record-setting quarterback Jacob Hammoc to the media. Hammoc served as Mason’s quarterback at Florala High and made the transition to ECHS when Mason became the school’s head coach.
“I am excited to play here,” Hammoc said. “It’s a new experience, and the game is a lot faster and more competitive. The competition will require me to play my best every night and will help me reach my future goals.”
Also taking part in the media event was last year’s Class AISA-AAA champion, Monroe Academy’s Volunteers. The Vols set a school record last year with 13 straight wins under veteran head coach Mitchell Tuberville.
Tuberville has spent the last 14 years as head coach at MA and plans to repeat the storybook season of last year.
“We have lost some players,” Mitchell explained. “Due to those losses, we have some big shoes to fill. But we will rise to the task.”