SPORTS YEAR IN REVIEW – May-August
Golden Tigers take Red Map
The Golden Tigers boys golf team will bring home the red map after a stellar performance at the state golf championships May 9-10. The runner-up finish follows last year’s state win. The boys came in second place with the score of 604, falling a few strokes behind St. Paul, who had 583. Eli Hodges stood out as an individual with the lowest score out of the 5A players. Hodges had a score of 141, with a 71 on the first day’s 18 hole and 70 as his second day score, being under both days.
‘It’s been unbelievable’
It is often said in baseball that good pitching beats good hitting, and Russellville had it in Montgomery for the team’s state title defense. After losing game one of the series against Faith Academy 9-1, the Golden Tigers sent their pair of Austins (Bohannon and Kitterman) to the mound in games two and three, and the seniors made sure the blue map trophy was heading north on Interstate 65 after the series instead of south.
The defending state champions traveled to Montgomery took two games out of three against the Faith Academy Rams of Mobile. With back-to-back titles, the Golden Tigers finished the season with a school record 48-7, tying them with the Cullman team of 2007 for second-most wins in state history.
RHS tennis wins state
The Russellville High School boys tennis team played in the state competition April 25. The boys, as expected, stood out at state as an elite team. Doubles pair Jake Williams and Levi Hargett came in first place at state competition.
“They practiced hard, and they played hard; it was definitely an intense game. They earned it,” said Coach Josh Dobbins.
RHS celebrates Devin Jones’ selection as AAMU cheerleader
Russellville High School senior Devin Jones was the center of attention last week at a celebration marking her selection as a cheerleader for Alabama A&M University.
Jones tried out in April for a position at A&M after cheering her junior and senior years at RHS. She said motivation from her coaches and teammates drove her to continue cheer in college – especially from Coach Stephanie Mayfield.
“She helped me gain a lot of awards this past summer,” said Jones, who has been UCA All American and received invitations to cheer in Florida, London and for UCA staff.
“Devin is a true athlete,” said Mayfield, pointing out her participation in basketball and volleyball in addition to cheerleading. “She’s competitive to a fault.”
HISTORY MADE: Lady Golden Tigers head to state tourney
For the first time ever in school history the Russellville Lady Golden Tigers earned a trip to the softball state tournament in Montgomery.
The Lady Golden Tigers, who have never advanced even to the regional tournament, will now be one of the eight teams in Class 5A playing for a state title at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
“The girls have held true to the course,” said Coach John Smith. They have followed his advice this season: “Don’t worry if you just made an error or just made an out. You’ve got to have a short memory and come back and make the next play or get the big hit.”
The team would go on to fall short in the double-elimination state tourney. They lost to Marbury 2-0 in the first game off an early two-run homer by the Lady Bulldogs, after which the girls couldn’t get anything going themselves. They lost the next game when Russellville’s bats went cold, losing in the losers bracket to reigning Class 5A Champion Springville 13-3.
Golden Tiger turf takes root
In just a few weeks from start to finish, the Golden Tigers have a major upgrade for the upcoming football season: a state-of-the-art turf field.
The turf is an asset, said Coach Mark Heaton, that will keep Russellville High right on the cutting edge, and “it’s more than just beneficial for football. I think it’s good for the entire school system and the community,” Heaton said. “One of the things I hope to do is to do some type of community celebration … This track and stadium are a focal point of the community. We’re excited about that, for the community have a nice, safe place that they can take pride in.”
Red Bay’s Colby Knoblock signs for Blue Mountain baseball
The Blue Mountain College Toppers are going to have a little Tiger blood for next season’s baseball action.
Red Bay 2016 graduate Colby Knoblock signed Monday to join the Blue Mountain team and continue his baseball career at the college level.
Knoblock was No. 2 on the mound for Red Bay “and did a great job behind the plate for us,” Coach Richard Maggerise said. “He’s just a great kid – a hard worker. I’m just happy for him to be able to get a chance to play at the next level.”
Six RHS baseball players make AWSA All State
Five Russellville players were named to first team All-State Honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Judd Ward, Reed Smith, Cody Greenhill, Landon Oliver and Austin Kitterman from RHS were among the 16 in Class 5A receiving first team recognition. Additionally, Austin Bohannon, who Coach Chris Heaps said was “equally deserving of first team honors,” was named to the second team.
“I would say there’s not many schools in the history of baseball in Alabama to have that many (selected for All State Honors),” Heaps said.
Two Lady Golden Tigers opt to continue athletic careers
It is almost every athlete’s dream to play the sport she loves at the next level. For Russellville softball’s Jakari Suggs and Jess Guzman, this dream is becoming a reality.
“These are both young ladies who are dedicated. We appreciate the things y’all did here at Russellville to help get us to the point we got to this season,” said Coach John Smith to his Lady Golden Tigers. “I know your teammates are proud of you, and I know that you know that you wouldn’t have gotten here without these teammates. We’re very proud of you, and we wish you all luck.”
Both members of the 2015/16 Russellville Lady Tigers Softball team have been signed to play college ball at Miles College, which is located south of Birmingham in Fairfield.
Suggs and Guzman were pitcher and catcher, respectively, for the Golden Tigers. Continuing on the same team as Miles Golden Bears, Smith said they will know how to read each other for a play and be able to trust each other when a game comes down to the wire.
County schools implement archery, shooting sports
A scholastic shooting sports program is the newest offering for Franklin County students.
“We will be looking for any youth who would like to start shooting competitively for skeet, sporting clays and trap,” said Tim Burks, network administrator for Franklin County Schools. Burks’ son Camron is involved in trap shooting, and Burks is passionate about providing sports opportunities behind the conventional options – football, baseball, basketball and softball – to Franklin County youth. “We attempted last year with an archery program, but we just didn’t get enough participation,” Burks said. This year, archery will be offered as a class for credit at Vina.
“Our National Wild Turkey Federation banquet raised enough monies to be able to purchase the equipment needed for an archery program at Vina High School this year. The state of Alabama gives class credit for archery,” Burks said.