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2022 Alabama high school football preseason 


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       August 9, 2022

          Did you know you can follow AHSFHS.org on Twitter now? We will regularly post information about teams throughout the season and even during the offseason. Follow us at: @AlabamaHSFB.

         So many things changed on the high school football scene during the off season that it is near impossible to know where to begin. Reclassification, competitive balance, coaching changes, new schools joining the AHSAA and a couple of schools jumping from the AISA to the AHSAA are just a few of the most recent football topics of discussion.

          Every two years the AHSAA reclassifies the member schools according to enrollment in an effort to keep things on even terms concerning competitiveness. While most agree this is a necessary endeavor for the ruling body some may have different ideas about the competitive balance rules. Competitive balance is sport specific and works to try and balance the private schools with the public schools when it comes to sports.

          The private schools are moved up in classification if they win state championships or reach the semi-finals of the playoffs in consecutive seasons. Four schools were moved up this year as Mars Hill (3A), Montgomery Academy (4A), Catholic Montgomery (4A) and St. Paul's (6A) all will face a tougher road to the finals in 2022.

         There are a few teams who dropped down in classification that will certainly impact the post season in 2022. Fyffe drops to 2A which will not be good news for the rest of that class. Reeltown (2A), Elba (1A), Spring Garden (1A), Mobile Christian (3A), Gordo (3A), Madison Academy (3A), Andalusia (4A), Theodore (6A) and St. James (3A). All these teams could make deep runs in the playoffs given the fact their path to the state championship game will be a little easier this season.

         Other schools will find the going tougher. Opelika (7A), Vigor (5A) and Pike Road (6A) will find the competition tougher when it rolls around to November since they moved up in classification.

         There were a record number of coaching changes this off season as at least 114 schools sought a different path to success. Many were involved in a domino effect when their head coach found a better opportunity for success. Notable changes were Jamey DuBose moving to Orange Beach for the sun and fun after a few years in Georgia. Pike Road saw their state championship coach move on to Greenville. Enterprise scored big by landing Ben Blackmon from Spanish Fort. Dale Pruitt returned to Plainview for his third stint at the school. Lastly, Steve Mask leaves St. Paul's for Pell City. Tom Causey (Pelham) and Josh Niblett (Hoover) took their talents east to Georgia in 2022.

          Tuscaloosa Academy and Pike Liberal Arts have made the move from the AISA to the AHSAA. Tuscaloosa Academy will play in class 2A while Pike Liberal Arts will play as an independent this season. Both schools have fielded excellent teams the past few seasons and actually played against each other in the AISA-AAA title game with the Pike Patriots coming out on top by a score of 41-21.

          Also joining the AHSAA this year will be Holy Spirit (1A). Best of luck to all these schools.

          Something new this year from the AISA will be an 8 Man league comprised of schools who have struggled recently to field traditional eleven man teams. Meadowview Christian, Cornerstone Christian and Springwood will drop down to eight man football and will be joined by Evangel Christian Academy, North River Christian and Southern Prep Academy. Eight man football is a very fast growing sport across the country and you can expect this league to grow over the next few seasons.

         The latest trend in high school sports has become student athlete transfers. A decade ago this was not news but the times are changing. It is much more common now to see players transfer to a new school for a number of reasons. Whether it is exposure the larger schools offer, facilities, playing time or coaching some players and their parents feel a change would be beneficial to a high school athlete.

          While the AHSAA has tried to address the issues involved to protect the integrity of high school sports it is becoming more apparent than ever that more will need to be done in the coming years. With college players now receiving NIL money it could be very beneficial for a prospect to weigh all their options and make choices that will best assure their future.

         The flip side could leave smaller schools and schools with fewer resources behind in terms of retaining star players. Just this season several D1 prospects in the state have transferred to different schools.

          That brings up another topic. It is only a matter of time before NIL hits the high school level in Alabama. Last June the Supreme Court ruled that all collegiate athletes were allowed to monetize their name, image and likeness. Since that time no less than nine states allow high school athletes to profit through NIL. Those states include: Alaska, California, Louisiana, Kansas, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, New Jersey and New York. At least eleven others are reviewing proposals.

          So what is the value of a superstar high school athlete through NIL? One source places a value of $3.1 million on Texas commit Arch Manning. Bronny James, the son of LaBron James has a value of $6.3 million. While we know those are exceptional cases, the value for a star football player at the high school level in Alabama could be worth tens of thousands to a player in the right situation.

          As it stands now in Alabama the AHSAA will likely be the deciding factor in whether NIL is allowed at the high school level. Ron Ingram has been quoted as saying the AHSAA would have to "change its current by-laws." The by-laws prohibit an athlete from taking part or profiting in any NIL deal. Rule 1, Section 8 states that a student is ineligible if he/she accepts material or financial inducement from any source. Here is an article from the USA Today with where each state stands on NIL. USA Today

          Well that about sums up where we are as the 2022 football season approaches. There are many more topics of dicussion but we will leave those to the coaches, players and fans across the state. Now lets play some football. Jamborees are scheduled this week with real games beginning next Thursday the 18th.

         

David Parker
  AHSFHS.org
  dparker@ahsfhs.org





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