Top 10: Take a look back at 2018’s top FC sports news
1. Phil Campbell girls basketball makes run to Final Four
The Phil Campbell girls basketball program returned to the Final Four for the first time since 1987. Led by junior Abby Davis, sophomore transfer Kallie Allen and senior point guard Darby Elliott, the Bobcats went on a 17-game winning streak that ended with a semi-final loss in Class 2A to Samson at Legacy Arena in Birmingham. Phil Campbell ended the season with 27 wins. The Bobcats appear to be poised to make a return trip state in 2019 in Class 3A.
2. Heaps wins Alabama Coach of the Year
Head baseball coach Chris Heaps led the Russellville Golden Tigers to three straight state Class 5A baseball state championships, and for that he was named Alabama Coach of the Year for baseball by the National Federation of State High School Association. Heaps was nominated by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
3. Russellville golf team finishes second in state
The Russellville Golden Tiger golf team was runner-up in the Class 5A state golf tournament in May. The tournament was held at the Robert Trent Jones course in the Shoals area. Russellville finished behind St. Paul’s of Mobile. The Golden Tigers shot a 624, led by freshman Eric Boutwell, who shot a one-over-par after 36 holes – just seven strokes off the winning score.
4. Russellville baseball quest for four-peat ends in finals
Russellville High School’s quest for a fourth consecutive Class 5A baseball championship came up short, as the Golden Tigers fell to Faith Academy in Montgomery in May. It was the third straight meeting for the two schools in the finals, with Russellville coming out on top in the previous three. The Golden Tigers ended the season with a 36-3 record.
5. Belgreen tops Red Bay in double-overtime thriller
The Belgreen Bulldogs won their second straight Franklin County Tournament championship in a double-overtime thriller, beating rival Red Bay 64-53. In a jam-packed Belgreen gymnasium, the Bulldog boys hit 12-of-19 free throws in overtime to get the win.
6. Phil Campbell wins Franklin County Tournament for first time in 20 years
The Phil Campbell Lady Bobcats captured their first Franklin County Championship since 1998, well before any of the current players were born, by defeating Belgreen 58-47.
7. Belgreen baseball makes playoffs for first time in 20 years
The Belgreen Bulldogs baseball program earned its first play-off appearance since 1998 with a two-game sweep of county and area rival Vina. Belgreen would go on to lose to Shoals Christian in the first round of the playoffs the following week.
8. Phil Campbell’s Abby Davis competes in All-Star game
Phil Campbell rising senior Abby Davis was selected to compete in the AHSAA North-South All-Star game in Montgomery over the summer. The game features the top rising seniors in the state. It was one of many honors for Davis during a year when she was also 2A Northwest Regional MVP, 2A second team all-state, and signing a basketball scholarship with the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
9. Lots of new coaches hired in Franklin County
2018 saw changes in coaching positions across Franklin County. In football, John Ritter took over the Russellville Golden Tiger program, and Kevin Barnwell took the helm for the Phil Campbell Bobcats. Holly Kuykendall became the new girls basketball coach at Red Bay. Nathan Vincent became the new baseball coach at Belgreen. There were four softball coaching hires – John Smith at Belgreen, Susie Tverberg at Tharptown, Jonathan Jones at Vina and Jordan Benford at Phil Campbell.
10. Red Bay boys basketball ranks second in state
As 2018 comes to a close, the Red Bay boys basketball program is on the rise. The Tigers were ranked second in the state in Class 2A as the year. If the Tigers keep up their run, they will surely be at, or near, the top of this list next year.