By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
As the 2019 local football schedule starts this Friday, August 23, many of our local and area teams will see their first action of the season.
Among each team is one player who will have a major hand in the success of each team.
Those players from our four coverage-area schools are known collectively as the “Four Horsemen,” as they will have to take on major leadership roles in hopes of helping their respective teams fulfill their hopes and dreams.
Those players are:
*Jacob Hammac (6-0/207; Sr. quarterback, Escambia County High):
In 2017, during his sophomore season at Florala High School, quarterback Jacob Hammac etched his name in Alabama High School Athletic Association record books when he completed 202 of 348 passes for 27 touchdowns and total yardage of 2,569.
Hammac joins his former Florala head coach, Scott Mason, at Escambia County High for his senior season.
“I am excited to be here,” Hammac said. “I love the game of football and I have been welcomed with open arms.”
Hammac explained that his leadership role has come with challenges.
“Being a leader requires a lot,” Hammac said. “The main thing it requires is helping get everyone on the same page and pushing them to work hard in practice.”
Hammac explained that he looks up to NFL players such as Tom Brady and Payton Manning.
“I’m not a very fast guy,” Hammac said. “Those two guys are much like myself. I watch what they do and we have similar traits.”
Hammac stressed that ECHS has a tough schedule this season, with teams such as UMS-Wright, Hillcrest-Evergreen and Flomaton slated.
“We just want to let them know that we are ready to play,” Hammac said.
Hammac is looking to college upon graduation in 2020, and many colleges are already knocking at his door. He would not reveal which one is most tempting at this time.
*Bryant Quimby (Sr., 6-3/190; linebacker/fullback, Escambia Academy):
Bryant Quimby got the bittersweet taste of playing for, but not winning, a state championship, as EA fell in the title game.
This season Quimby and the rest of the Cougars look to change that.
As the number of players remaining from the 2017 state championship team dwindles, head coach Hugh Fountain looks to players such as Quimby to help pass the torch of leadership on to the younger players.
“Our senior leadership is extremely important,” said Fountain. “Our younger guys, however, have shown the same type of leadership that our seniors have, and it’s because they have come together as a team.”
Quimby may be just one part of that equation, but he is a major part.
“We want to win state of course,” Quimby said. “I mostly want to be a positive leader and help form a brotherhood with my team.”
According to Quimby, the most positive thing he can contribute is to show his fellow teammates how to work hard and not give up when they are down.
Quimby and the Cougars will face a schedule packed with tough teams — such as Tuscaloosa Academy, Clarke Prep and Bessemer Academy — that will take work and grit to overcome.
Upon graduation in 2020, Quimby hopes to pursue a baseball scholarship and pursue a degree in business.
*J.T. Tucker (Sr., 6-2/186; wide receiver/cornerback, J.U. Blacksher High):
J.T. Tucker is no stranger to hard work and determination.
Tucker, a multiple sport standout, has been a key to the successes of J.U. Blacksher athletics, especially football, where last season the Bulldogs fell short of the playoffs for the first time in five years.
“J.T. is an all-around athlete,” head coach Wes Sims said. “He is an outstanding leader and gives it his all every single day.”
Last year, Tucker suffered through multiple injuries. He stressed that staying in top conditioning to avoid injury is his main concern.
“I want to help lead my team,” Tucker said. “It’s hard to do that when your hurt, so my main concern is staying healthy for my team.”
Tucker is a quiet leader that leads by example. With playoffs as his number one concern, he is pushing his team to become better each day.
Tucker stressed that his number-one role model is his father.
“My father pushes me to perform well each game,” Tucker said. “It’s nice having him there to push me to do my best in everything I do.”
Upon graduation in 2020, Tucker wants to pursue an engineering degree while playing sports.
“I want to take my skills to the next level,” Tucker said. “I’m not a big math guy, but I want to pursue a degree in engineering and be the best that I can be at whatever I do.”
*James Wyatt Windham (Sr. 6-2/230; offensive guard/linebacker, Northview High):
James Windham has been a leader for the Northview Chiefs since Day One.
Last year, Windham and the Chiefs fell just short in Florida playoffs, losing out in the second round. This year they are looking to change that.
“Goals for this season are simple,” Windham said. “We want to win state.”
NHS head coach Derek Marshman said the Chiefs have been striving to become one united team during the spring and summer training months.
“I teach my guys not to look behind them,” Marshman said. “When you look behind, you crash. We are looking ahead.”
Windham has taken that lesson to heart and is steadily pushing his teammates to do the same.
“I want to help bring us all together as a team,” he said.
The senior lineman’s personal goals are to help push himself to get stronger.
“I have not been as fit in the weight room as I would like,” Windham said. “At the same time, you have to also push your teammates to become stronger and smarter.”
Windham makes his personal goals his team goals as well. He stressed that number-one on the radar for the Chiefs this season is Baker High, the team that knocked the Chiefs out of the playoffs.