A weekly look at high school sports in the state of Alabama for the past week and a look ahead to what is tap. This is an opinion piece (sort of).
Philip Rivers played a football game at Athens High School on Nov. 12, 1999.
He and the Golden Eagles defeated Phillips of Birmingham 28-14 in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
He’ll be back on that same field on Aug. 12 when his second St. The Michael Catholic team takes on Athens in a preseason jamboree game.
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“It will be a heck of an atmosphere,” Rivers said this week at Inside High School Sports on Sports Talk 99.5 FM in Mobile. “Obviously, my brother (Stephen) and I both played there. Cody Gross is doing a heck of a job. That will be a fun trip. We are making it like a retreat / camp trip for a couple of days. ”
Rivers said St. Michael is taking the AHSAA option of having an extra week of fall camp in the summer in lieu of a traditional spring training. With that being the case, they wanted to find a preseason game before the Cardinals’ season-opener against Class 5A Gulf Shores on Aug. 18.
“I was talking to Coach Gross, and they were kind of deciding what to do,” Rivers said. “I said, ‘Shoot, what about us coming up there and playing?’ We started kicking it around. I found a place for us to camp and do some spiritual stuff and some team bonding stuff. It will be a neat trip. ”
The Rivers’ Athens team went 11-2 in his junior year, losing to Etowah in the Class 5A quarterfinals. As a senior, the Golden Eagles went 10-3. A week after that home win over Phillips, they lost at Gadsden 33-21 in his final game. He went on to star at NC State and the NFL before retiring last spring.
He can’t recall being back at the Athens Stadium since graduating.
“It’s been a long time. I know that, ”he said. “I don’t know that I’ve seen a game there in person since I played there. I did some Athens games when my brother played, but I want to say they were at Russellville or somewhere. I don’t know that I’ve been there to a game since I played. ”
He admitted it would be a little strange to cheer against Athens.
“The good thing is it is a jamboree so we will both be 0-0,” Rivers joked.
St. Michael went 6-3 in Rivers’ first year as head coach, narrowly missing the school’s first playoff berth. Athens was 4-6 in 2021.
Emotional week for Spanish Fort
It’s been a wild week for the Spanish Fort soccer programs.
Both the boys and girls self-reported a possible eligibility violation and have been removed from the Class 6A playoffs.
Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler said he filed a desperation appeal of the girls situation on Thursday, but it may be too late. The teams representing Spanish Fort’s Class 6A, Area 2 (Gulf Shores and Baldwin County) are both scheduled to play their first-round games tonight.
It’s been hard to find detailed information about the two cases, which allegedly involve the same family. Mobile attorney David Allen filed a lawsuit last weekend against AHSAA executive director Alvin Briggs on behalf of parent Kerry DeFelippo, whose son Anthony DeFelippo is at the center of the boys case.
The suit alleges that DeFelippo transferred into the Spanish Fort from out-of-state at mid-semester and was deemed eligible by a member of the AHSAA staff at that time. A Baldwin County judge on Tuesday granted a stay in the case, which would have allowed the Toro boys to play this weekend, but Tyler sent a letter to Briggs stating the Spanish Fort would not play.
His latest appeal involves the girls only.
The legal case on the boys side has almost every official involved unable or unwilling to talk to the media from the Spanish Fort administrators to the AHSAA. There is a hearing date set for Tuesday where we could hear more. However, since Gulf Shores – the team added to the postseason in place of the Spanish Fort – already lost on Thursday night at McGill-Toolen, it would seem unlikely that the hearing will take place. Time will tell.
There are a lot of moving parts in this case. Every day, sometimes every hour, has brought a new development, and it’s not over yet.
Return to sender
A pair of high school football standouts on the Gulf Coast did an about face this week.
First-team All-State athlete Chris Pearson and QB Cash Turner left Orange Beach in January after helping the Makos to a 9-2 record in 2021. They enrolled at nearby Gulf Shores.
However, this week the duo returned to Orange Beach after four months away. The Makos hired three-time state champion coach Jamey DuBose earlier this spring.
Rico Jackson resigned as Murphy’s head football coach on Monday after three seasons. He was approved the next night as a head coach at Tarrant High School.
Former Mobile Christian defensive coordinator Gus Smith has been hired as Gordo’s new football coach. He replaces Ryan Lolley, who took the Northridge job.
Blount has hired Demarcus Mosley as his new boys basketball coach and Psachal Maize-Johnson as the new girls coach.
Andy Blackston has stepped down after 16 years as Madison Academy’s boys basketball coach to accept a job at Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy.
Munford 4-star DB Sylvester Smith committed to Tennessee. Smith is a rising senior.
Vigor freshman OT Micah DeBose has added offers from Auburn and Missouri this week.
Reigning Class 4A Lineman of the Year Michael Towner Jr. has added offers from A&M and Samford, Alcorn State, Alabama State, Florida.
80s quote of the week
“Oh no sir. You ain’t seen bad yet, but it’s coming. ” – Truman Gates, Next of Kin (1989)
Thought for the week
“Don’t dwell on the past, but don’t be afraid to examine it either. Looking back is often the best way to shine a light on the path ahead. ” – Tony Dungy, Uncommon Life
Ben Thomas is a high school sportswriter at AL.com. Follow him on twitter at @BenThomasPreps or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His weekly column is posted each Friday on AL.com.