LHS celebrates homecoming (gallery)

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Sweet Water ground game pounds Linden

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
A swarming Dawg “ D” pushes back Linden’s Graderius Brown.

Sweet Water relied almost exclusively on its traditionally powerful ground attack to wrest away a key Region 1 win over Linden Friday night. The Bulldogs scored 21 consecutive points over a stretch of 19:05 of game time to anchor a 42-20 victory.

With the game knotted at 14 late in the second quarter, Jonah Smith hit Chastian Washington for a 49-yard touchdown strike to give the Bulldogs the lead. Deshawn Blanks added the PAT to set the advantage at 21-14.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Bulldog Jacory Brown (40) leads Shamar Lewis (6) en route to a second half TD.

Shamar Lewis contributed an 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to move it to 28-14. Luke Davis then picked off a Patriot pass in the fourth quarter and returned it for a touchdown to move the lead to 35-14.

Kevin Green scored on a 7-yard run with 4:58 to play to narrow the deficit to 35-20 and keep Linden in the game. Lewis iced the game on a 9-yard touchdown run with 1:10 to go in the contest.

Jaylon Williamson opened the scoring with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter when he found the end zone on a 6-yard sprint to put Sweet Water up 7-0. Grady Brown later hit Green for an 8-yard touchdown strike to tie the game at 7-7. Williamson put Sweet Water up 14-7 on a 17-yard run with 4:53 to go in the second quarter. Brown later found Green again for a 52-yard touchdown pass to tie the game once more.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Patriot Graderius Brown (5) leaps over Bulldog defender Shamar Lewis deep in Sweet Water territory.

Linden had 367 yards of total offense but was ultimately felled, in part, by its lack of ball control. The Patriots threw two interceptions and fumbled four times though they only lost one such miscue. The Pats also incurred eight penalties for 60 yards.

Sweet Water amassed 295 yards rushing to buoy a 344-yard offensive night. Lewis totaled 128 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Williamson added 83 yards and two touchdowns on 13 runs.

Green hauled in four passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Isaiah Scott caught four passes for 96 yards. Scott also intercepted a pass for the Linden defense. Trent Sams had one INT for the Sweet Water defense.

Sweet Water (4-1, 4-0) travels to McIntosh next Friday night. Linden (3-3, 2-2) hosts A.L. Johnson.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Sweet Water WR Chastian Washington (22) hauls in a Jonah Smith pass for a 3rd Quarter TD.

Offense, special teams lift Linden over Washington County

09-29-17 — Linden, Ala. — Linden’s Isaiah Scott (1) returns a punt 65 yards for a touchdown late in Friday night’s game against Washington County. The Patriots went on to win by a final score of 49-34. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

LINDEN — The Bulldogs of Washington County set the tone early in the opening drive Friday night against Linden as a high snap sailed over the punter and through the back of the end zone in a fourth-and-long situation, giving Linden the early 2-0 lead.

Once ahead, the Patriots never looked back, upending the Bulldogs 49-34.

After an early start, the Pats went on to return the ensuing free kick 60 yards, making it 9-0 with only 2:35 off the clock.

“It was nice for us to get ahead quick, but what I stressed to my guys is that we couldn’t let up,” said first-year Linden head coach Demetrice Jackson.

Washington County answered with a Cade Glass quarterback sneak from a yard out, making it 9-7 at the 7:44 mark.

Douglas Johnson would give the Pats their next score on a 3-yard rush. A failed PAT made it 15-6 with 3:46 to play in the opening period.

Senior Isaiah Scott then pulled in a 54-yard pass from Graderius Brown, giving Linden a solid 21-6 lead with only 36 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Not to be outdone, the ‘Dawgs found the end zone from 6 yards out and successfully converted a two-point conversion, making it 21-14 in the second quarter.

An ensuing onside kick attempt recovered by Linden gave the good guys the ball at their own 36.

A series of turnovers would see Linden’s Brown fumble, giving Washington County the ball on their own 46. Linden’s Markell Williams then intercepted a Glass toss on the ‘Dawgs 41-yard line. Driving again, Linden fumbled and Washington County recovered on their own 32, but would not find their way to six as Timothy Thurman went up to intercept a pass on the Pats’ own 42-yard line.

A fourth-and-2 attempt by Linden failed and gave WCHS possession on the 50-yard line.

09-29-17 — Linden, Ala. — Linden’s Timothy Thurman Jr., (24) looks for running room in Friday night’s game against Washington County. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

Glass once again found the end zone from a yard out, tying it up at 21 all with 2:23 to play in the opening half, but the Pats would have none of that. Kevin Green took it 55 yards for a touchdown, and with a successful PAT, the Patriots went to the locker room with a 7-point lead at 28-21.

“We wanted to come out tonight and put together a good showing in all three phases of the game—offense, defense, and special teams. I feel like we were able to do that,” said Jackson.

Linden took the opening kick of the second half but came up empty-handed, and allowing Washington County to again tie the game at 28 when Glass scored on a 17-yard run.

Three minutes later, a 30-yard pass from Brown to Scott on a 4th-and-one from the 30 put the Pats back on top at 34-28.

The final period saw Linden score twice, once on a 7-yard rush from Brown, and again on a 65-yard punt return by Scott.

Washington County rounded out scoring for the night on a 14-yard touchdown run, finalizing the game at 49-34.

“I think our kids were up for the competition tonight, especially after we lost last week to Millry,” said Jackson.

Linden (3-2, 2-1) travels to face region foe Sweet Water (3-1, 3-0) next Friday.

“We’ll enjoy this one tonight, but it’s back to work for us on Monday,” said Jackson.

Linden thumps McIntosh despite miscues

Linden’s Roderick Dansby completes a strip sack in the end zone that results in a safety during the first quarter Thursday night against McIntosh. (WAW | Johnny Autery)

LINDEN – In an uneven affair that saw a combined seven turnovers and less than 200 yards of total offense, Linden beat McIntosh 46-8 in Class 1A, Region 1 play Thursday night.

The Patriots struggled with ball control after popping its opening play scrimmage for 27 yards on a shovel pass to Isaiah Scott. Linden fumbled the ensuing snap, handing McIntosh the first of its four forced turnovers on the night. By the final buzzer, Linden would put the ball on the ground six times, losing four of those fumbles.

Kevin Green stiff arms a McIntosh player. Green caught three passes for 49 yards, returned a kick 64 yards for a touchdown, and intercepted a pass in the win over McIntosh. (WAW | Johnny Autery)

The Patriots got on the board with 7:18 to go in the first quarter when Scott hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Graderius Brown. The lead jumped with 5:43 to go in the frame when Roderick Dansby completed a strip sack in the end zone and covered up the Demon QB who fell on the ball, giving Linden a safety and a 9-0 lead.

McIntosh showed signs of life with 2:29 left in the opening period when Cameron Johnson sprinted 62 yards on a quarterback keeper to cut the lead to 9-6.

After a timeout to discuss the play call, Johnson hit Tarus Law in the end zone for the conversion pass to cut it to 9-8.

The game remained tight until the sixth minute of the second quarter. With 7:33 left until half, an errant long snap sailed over the McIntosh punter’s head and into the end zone where Denzel Mosley stepped up to touch the Demon specialist down for the second safety of the contest and the 11-8 Linden lead. The ensuing kick saw Kevin Green return the ball 64 yards to stretch the Linden lead to 18-8.

The Linden defense swarms a McIntosh ball carrier. McIntosh managed only five yards of total offense on the night. (WAW | Johnny Autery)

From there, the Patriots poured it on by finally establishing its run game in the person of Johnathan Biggs. The tailback added touchdown runs of 6, 15, 10, and 44 yards to round out the scoring. The first of his runs followed a Scott punt return of 44 yards to the 6. The second Biggs score came after Scott picked off a pass and returned it to the McIntosh 10.

“He, along with a few other skill players, stepped up and helped us,” Linden coach Demetrice Jackson said of the all-around contributions of Scott. “We talk to them about special teams and that special teams can help us when the offense is struggling.”

Linden’s Roderick Dansby lays out to tackle McIntosh’s Cameron Johnson for a loss. (WAW | Johnny Autery)

Despite its 62-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, McIntosh finished the game with only one yard rushing on 25 attempts. The Demons also tallied four passing yards, all of which came on the final snap of the game. In addition to the five yards of total offense, McIntosh picked up no first downs.

Linden managed 191 yards of total offense despite its fumbling issues. Linden tallied five first downs in the game.

Biggs ran for 99 yards and four touchdowns on nine carries to lead Linden.

Linden (2-1, 2-0) travels to Washington County next Friday night.

Sweet Water at No. 2 to open ASWA preseason football poll

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Sweet Water coach Pat Thompson instructs his team during the first day of fall practice Monday. The Bulldogs are the highest ranked squad in the county, debuting at No. 2 in the ASWA preseason poll.

Changes abound as Marengo County high schools ready for the 2017 football season. A year marked by turnover at the top, four of the six high school football teams in the county have welcomed new head coaches.

In Class 5A, Brian Seymore is in from Class 7A Mary Montgomery and his Tigers debut in the Alabama Sports Writers Association preseason poll on the outside looking in. The Tigers, who were 7-4 a season ago, are the highest vote getter in the classification not to make the Top 10. Joining them in the “others receiving votes” category are notable powers Russellville, Jackson, Charles Henderson and Mortimer Jordan as well as region foe Calera. Topping the Class 5A ranking is reigning champion Beauregard, which received 23 of 31 first place votes. Briarwood Christian is No. 2 and garnered three first place votes. St. Paul’s received two first place votes and sits at No. 3.

Reigning champ and perennial power Maplesville tops the Class 1A poll with 29 first place votes. But Marengo County is well represented in the AHSAA’s smallest classification as three school populate the Top 10. Sweet Water sits at No. 2 off a 9-3 season saw them finish in the quarterfinal round. They tallied 261 total points, putting them just ahead of Linden. The Patriots, who are in their first season under new head coach Demetrice Jackson, were 13-1 a season ago and ended their campaign in the semifinals. Marengo High pulls in at No. 9 in the preseason poll, just one point ahead of No. 10 Notasulga. Eberne Myrthil’s Panthers were 6-5 last season and lost a thrilling first round playoff game to Brantley.

Marengo Academy has been a dominant force in the AISA and looks to continue that trend in 2017. New coach Lebo Jones and his team will have to earn every bit of respect they get this season as the Longhorns are well outside of the Top 10 in the “others receiving votes” category following an offseason permeated with coaching questions before the late hire of the new head man.

A.L. Johnson, which saw the departure of Johnney Ford two weeks ago and the hiring of Roosevelt Moore late last week, is the lone Marengo County team not mentioned in the preseason poll.

ALABAMA SPORTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL POLL Preseason – Aug. 9, 2017

(First-place votes and 2016 record in parentheses)

 Class 7A
1. Hoover (29) (12-2) 366
2. Central-Phenix City (1) (10-2) 261
3. Thompson (5-5) 229
4. Hewitt-Trussville (1) (11-1) 191
5. James Clemens (8-4) 179
6. McGill-Toolen (13-1) 171
7. Spain Park (8-3) 114
8. Bob Jones (7-4) 83
9. Auburn (8-4) 64
10. Enterprise (10-2) 56
Others receiving votes: Gadsden City (7-6) 22, Mountain Brook (8-3) 10, Vestavia Hills (5-5) 8, Lee-Montgomery (0-9) 5, Murphy (6-5) 5, Sparkman (4-6) 3.

Class 6A
1. Ramsay (18) (13-2) 297
2. Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (4) (11-1) 233
3. Blount (1) (10-3) 201
4. Austin (2) (10-4) 194
5. Opelika (13-2) 184
6. Pinson Valley (5) (8-4) 180
7. Oxford (10-1) 155
8. Daphne (1) (9-3) 108
9. Muscle Shoals (7-6) 76
10. Park Crossing (13-1) 44
Others receiving votes: Spanish Fort (10-3) 43, Gardendale (8-4) 12, Hazel Green (6-4) 8, Jackson-Olin (8-3) 8, Clay-Chalkville (6-5) 5, Sidney Lanier (8-3) 5, Wetumpka (8-3) 5, Decatur (10-2) 4, Saraland (6-5) 3, McAdory (8-4) 1, Pell City (6-5) 1.

Class 5A
1. Beauregard (26) (13-1) 350
2. Briarwood Chr. (3) (12-2) 270
3. St. Paul’s (2) (9-4) 260
4. Vigor (8-4) 183
T5. Alexandria (5-4) 127
T5. Carroll (12-1) 127
7. Central-Clay Co. (9-3) 97
8. Wenonah (11-3) 90
9. Eufaula (8-3) 87
10. Brooks (9-3)56
Others receiving votes:  Demopolis (7-4) 25, Russellville (8-4) 19, Jackson (9-4) 15, Charles Henderson (7-4) 11, Mortimer Jordan (10-3) 10, Scottsboro (12-1) 10, Etowah (9-3) 9, Calera (8-4) 7, Guntersville (6-5) 6, Fairfield (7-5) 5, Pleasant Grove (4-7) 2, Moody (4-6) 1.

Class 4A
1. Handley (29) (13-2) 365
2. Andalusia (12-2) 257
3. Madison Acad. (11-4) 188
4. UMS-Wright (1) (9-3) 172
5. Rogers (12-1) 162
6. Leeds (1) (8-4) 142
7. St. James (10-2) 101
8. Hokes Bluff (9-5)  80
9. Cordova (9-3) 74
10. Fayette Co. (5-7) 61
Others receiving votes: Tallassee (9-4) 54, Cherokee Co. (10-3) 26, Wilson (8-3) 25, Madison Co. (6-5) 19, Thomasville (9-3) 12, Bibb Co. (8-4) 7, Dale Co. (7-4) 7, North Jackson (6-5) 6, Munford (6-5) 4, West Blocton (6-5) 3, Haleyville (9-2) 2.

Class 3A
1. Piedmont (27) (15-0) 351
2. Mobile Chr. (3) (13-2) 271
3. Gordo (1) (13-1) 268
4. Ohatchee (12-2) 165
5. Montevallo (10-2) 162
6. Opp (9-2) 110
7. Oakman (8-5) 109
8. Pike Co. (9-3) 85
9. Weaver (9-4) 72
10. Randolph Co. (10-3) 59
Others receiving votes: Clarke Co. (4-6) 43, Hillcrest-Evergreen (5-7) 24, Lauderdale Co. (7-5) 12, T.R. Miller (8-3) 12, Fultondale (8-3) 9, Bayside Acad. (8-5) 5, Plainview (6-5) 4, Wicksburg (8-4) 4, Lexington (8-4) 1, Straughn (4-6) 1.

Class 2A
1. Fyffe (28) (15-0) 354
2. Aliceville (1) (13-2) 272
3. Lanett (1) (11-3) 230
4. Elba (10-3) 225
5. G.W. Long (1) (12-1) 154
6. Tanner (9-4) 128
7. LaFayette (12-1) 125
8. Leroy (8-4) 110
9. New Brockton (7-5) 52
10. Sand Rock (9-3) 43
Others receiving votes: Reeltown (6-5) 17, Sheffield (9-3) 13, Goshen (8-4) 12, Southern Choctaw (10-2) 12, Cleveland (8-4) 5, Washington Co. (6-4) 5, Horseshoe Bend (6-5) 4, Cold Springs (5-6) 2, Westbrook Chr. (3-7) 2, Luverne (7-4) 1, Red Bay (8-3) 1.

Class 1A
1. Maplesville (29) (14-0) 365
2. Sweet Water (9-3) 261
3. Linden (2) (13-1) 246
4. Pickens Co. (11-4) 210
5. Brantley (7-5) 166
6. Addison (13-1) 110
7. Cedar Bluff (8-4) 107
8. Spring Garden (10-2) 79
9. Marengo (6-5) 50
10. Notasulga (7-5) 49
Others receiving votes: Hackleburg (9-3) 30, Houston Co. (6-5) 22, Loachapoka (3-8) 13, Georgiana (12-1) 12, Wadley (10-1) 12, Decatur Heritage (10-3) 10, Isabella (10-2) 10, Ragland (7-4) 5, Sumiton Chr. (9-3) 3, Hubbertville (10-2) 2 South Lamar (6-5) 2, Millry (4-7) 1, Talladega Co. Central (4-6) 1, Woodville (5-6) 1.

AISA
1. Autauga Acad. (28) (13-0) 353
2. Bessemer Acad. (2) (13-1) 283
3. Escambia Acad.  (8-5) 247
4. Monroe Acad. (1) (11-2) 215
5. Glenwood (8-4) 185
6. South Choctaw Acad.  (8-3) 139
7. Chambers Acad. (12-1) 127
8. Abbeville Chr. (7-6) 77
9. Pike Liberal (6-5) 49
10. Lee-Scott (7-5) 41
Others receiving votes: Clarke Prep (4-8) 21, Patrician (5-6) 14, Cornerstone Chr. (8-3) 5, Marengo Acad. (11-1) 5, Southern Acad. (4-7) 4, Lakeside (5-6) 1, Lowndes Acad. (8-3) 1.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association prep committee members are: Paul Beaudry (Chairman), Alabama Media Group; Lizi Arbogast, Alexander City Outlook; Josh Dutton, Andalusia Star-News; Joe Medley, Anniston Star; Andrew Garner, Atmore Advance; Gary Estwick, Birmingham News; Rob Rice, Blount Countian; Shannon Fagan, Cherokee Herald; Ross Wood, Clarke Co. Democrat; Jake Winfrey, Cullman Times; Johnathan Bentley, Daily Mountain Eagle; Justin Graves, Decatur Daily; Nicholas Finch, Demopolis Times; David Mundee, Dothan Eagle; Lee Peacock, Evergreen Courant; Craig Thomas, Florence TimesDaily; Cody Dowler, Fort Payne Times-Journal; Jeremy Smith, Freelance (Demopolis); Chris McCarthy, Gadsden Messenger; J.J. Hicks, Gadsden Times; Daniel Boyette, Huntsville Times; Ben Thomas, Mobile Press-Register; Stacy Long, Montgomery Advertiser; Scott Fields, Opelika-Auburn News; Shannon Allen, Sand Mountain Reporter; Jason Bowen, Scottsboro Daily Sentinel; Thomas Scott, Selma Times-Journal; Alec Etheridge, Shelby County Reporter; Lavonte Young, Talladega Daily Home; Joey Chandler, Tuscaloosa News; Evan Dudley, Wetumpka Herald.

 

Linden burst onto map at Class 1A state track meet

Tyroneisha Charleston sits back and relaxes after a day in which she won four medals at the Class 1A state track meet.

The Linden High track team is still riding high off a successful run at the Class 1A state meet earlier this month. The Patriot girls finished fourth out of 31 teams at the meet including five medals as a team.

Sophomore Tyroneisha Charleston starred at the meet, taking home four medals on the day. She took gold in the 100 meter dash with a time of 12.57. Charleston also took bronze in the high jump with a mark of 4-10 and bronze in the long jump with a finish of 14-11.75.

The Linden girls 4×100 relay team of Tyroneisha Charleston, Tomysha Boykin, Tameria Aldridge and Jakaria Miller celebrate after winning gold at the Class 1A state track meet.

Charleston also won gold as part of the 4×100 relay team that included Tomysha Boykin, Tameria Aldridge and Jakaria Miller. The team had a time of 51.48 seconds, more than a second ahead of the silver medalists.

The Linden girls also won gold in the 4×400 relay team with a squad that included Aldridge, Boykin, Miller and Jakaria Miller who finished with a time of 4:23.04.

The Linden boys finished fourth out of 26 teams with a performance that included medals in three events Charles Blackmon took silver in the 110 meter hurdles. Kevin Green finished second in the long jump. Roderick Dansby, Jaevius Smith, Blackmon and Green combined to win gold in the 4×100.

 

Linden track wins three state championships

The Linden High girls 4×400 relay team stands atop the podium after its state championship win over the weekend.

Linden’s Tyroneisha Charleston won the state championship in the girls 100 meter dash Saturday with a time of 12.57 seconds. Her medal was one of three golds for the Linden High girls, which also saw two relay teams take state championships.

The 4×400 relay team of Tameria Aldridge, Tomysha Boykin, Dajia Miller and Jakaria Miller won state with a time of 4:23.04, finishing two second ahead of Whitesburg.

The 4×100 relay team of Jakaria Miller, Tamaria Aldridge, Boykin and Charleston finished with a time of 51.48 seconds for the state championship.

Linden track teams show off en route to state meet

The Linden High track team showed out at the sectional meet at Paul Bryant High in Tuscaloosa last weekend. The Patriot girls took second place overall with 19 total medals. The boys were third place overall with 17 medals.

Tomysha Boykin took second in the 100-meter hurdles while Tyressa Anthony was fifth. Both runners qualified for the state meet in Cullman later this week. Jakaria Miller was the siliver medalist in the 200-meter dash while teammates Latorshia Harris finished sixth and Makayla Richardson took seventh and also qualified for state.

Anthony finished fourth and qualified for state in the 300-meter hurdles. Miller took bronze in the 400-meter dash while Harris qualified for state in the 400-meter dash. Linden took gold in the 4×100-meter relay with the team of Miller, Boykin, Tamaria Aldridge and Tyroneisha Charleston. The quartet of Miller, Harris, Dajia Miller and Aldridge took gold in the 4×400-meter relay.

Dajia Miller (fourth) and Alaysia Burns (sixth) each qualified for state in the 800-meter run. Charleston won gold in the high jump and the 100-meter dash. Charleston took gold in the long jump while teammate Dajia Miller finished sixth and qualified for state. Aldridge finished fifth and qualified for state in the shotput. Dajia Miller was the silver medalist in the triple jump while Burns took sixth and qualified for state.

The 4×800-meter relay team of Anna Scott, Burns, Anthony and Rachelle Varner took silver in the 4×800 but did not qualify for state. Other Patriot finishers included Varner (sixth) in the 1600-meter run, Anthony (seventh) in the 400-meter dash, Varner (eighth) in the long jump, Twyla Harris (seventh) in the shot put and Richardson (seventh) in the triple jump.

The boys team saw Charles Blackmon take silver and Jaevius Smith bronze in the 110-meter hurdles with both athletes qualifying for state. Other state qualifiers were Kendrell McCoy (bronze) in the 1600-meter run, Roderick Dansby (fourth) in the 200-meter dash, Blackmon (sixth) in the 300-meter hurdles, Joshua Williams (fifth) in the 400-meter dash, Brandon Bates (bronze) in the discus throw and (sixth) in the javelin and (eight) in shotput, Dansby (fourth) in the long jump, Kevin Green (seventh) in the long jump and (silver) in triple jump, and Smith (eighth) in triple jump. The 800-meter run saw Bishop (fifth), McCoy (seventh), and Johnson (eighth) each qualify for state.

The 4×100 relay team of Dansby, Smith, Blackmon and Green took gold as did the 4×400 relay team of Dansby, Williams, McCoy and Green. The 4×800 relay team of Zachery Bishop, Williams, Richardson Johnson and McCoy took silver and qualified for state.

Other participants from Linden included Bishop (fourth) in the high jump and (eighth) in the long jump.

Linden competes at the state meet in Cullman this weekend.

Jackson to take over Linden High football

11-18-16 — Linden, Ala. — Linden defensive coordinator Demetrice Jackson watches his defense in a 52-12 playoff win over Georgiana. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

Linden High School has a new head football coach after the board approved the hire at Thursday’s meeting. Demetrice Jackson, the Patriots’ defensive coordinator for each of the last two seasons, will ascend to the top spot in the program.

“It was huge and a blessing from above. I’ve worked with Coach (Andro) Williams the past two seasons, I know what type of guy he was and what he brings to the table with his work ethic and his physicality,” Jackson said of the opportunity, which became available when Williams left for W.S. Neal last month. “I know that I do have some big shoes to fill. I told the superintendent that I knew it would be hard to fill those shoes but that I would work as hard as I can to get to the level that he had this program at.”

An alumnus of Francis Marion High School and the son of renowned basketball coach Woodie Jackson, Demetrice opened his coaching career as an assistant at Brantley in 2011. Jackson spent two seasons as defensive line coach under David Lowery and two more under Ashley Kilcrease.

“His pedigree, his family history, his daddy being one of the winningest coaches in the state of Alabama in basketball, but more than that, it was who he is,” Dr. Timothy Thurman, Linden City Schools superintendent, said of the decision to hire Jackson as head football coach and athletic director. “He won a state championship at Brantley. He served as defensive coordinator the last two years. We finished first in the state in defense two years ago and second in the state last year.”

“Starting in 2011 at Brantley, which was my first year there, I worked under David Lowery. Coach Kilcrease was my head coach in 13 and 14. Both of them worked extremely hard. They loved on the kids, however, if they needed an iron fist they would handle them with an iron fist as well. Working with those three guys, I know I’m going to have to work hard to get some championship level coaches along with what we have now,” Jackson said before turning his attention to the work ethic Linden players already have by virtue of their 10 seasons under Williams. “That’s all of what the kids know. If you’re not working them hard enough, they’ll let you know that they want some more. With Coach Williams winning 100-plus games in the span of 10 years, I know the bar is going to be set high for me.”

Jackson, who guided the Patriot boys varsity boys basketball team to the Class 1A South Regional in Dothan this past season, will draw on his existing relationship with his players as he shapes the Linden program moving forward.

“Just trying to help them be productive citizens when they are not on the field,” Jackson said.

“The kids love him. It’s not just X’s and O’s, we think he’ll be a good mentor,” Thurman said. “We think he’ll be here a while. We don’t think we’ll have to go through this process every one to two years.”

Jackson, who followed his career at Miles College with an arena football run that saw him play for the Cincninnati Junglecats, Austin Wranglers and Albany Panthers while winning two championships, will get to work implementing his schemes and philosophies in the coming weeks.

“I’ve been with Coach Williams two years and he was a Wing-T guy. We’ll look at running the spread out of the Wing-T sets. That’s what we’re going to kind of incorporate into what we do now,” Jackson said. “Defensively, we’re going to continue to run the 3-4 set.”

 

Richardson earns WAW Player of the Year; Bolden takes coach honor

It’s hard to argue with success. And it’s hard to argue that anybody in Marengo County had more success this season than Linden High junior Amber Richardson. She led her team a 22-5 record and narrowly missed a second consecutive trip to the state semifinals.

Richardson averaged an eye-popping 18.4 points and 13.7 rebounds per contest this season while also stealing the ball 143 times. A 5-7 center with wing skills, Richardson routinely drew post defense responsibilities, but still found ways to be effective against larger players.

As the season wore on, Richardson seemed to get better. In the sub-regional against McIntosh, Richardson tallied 35 points, 23 rebounds and eight assists while sitting most of the fourth quarter. In the first round of the South Regional at the Dothan Civic Center, Richardson sustained an ankle injury just before half. With their leading scorer out of the lineup, the Patriots fell into a double-digit hole. Richardson re-emerged with 2:48 left in the third quarter and did all but help the Mud Dogs win the Bourbon Bowl as she led her team on a 20-5 run to beat Pleasant Home.

Richardson, who was a varsity starter at John Essex in the seventh and eighth grades, is the West Alabama Watchman Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Richardson earned Second Team All-County honors from The Watchman back in 2014 when she averaged 14.94 points per game for John Essex. After sitting her freshman season following the closure of Essex and her transfer to Linden, Richardson has tallied 970 points and 685 rebounds. That scoring output helped her shatter the 1,000-point mark this season and puts her in position to possibly end her career with more than 1,500 points and 1,200 rebounds in her career.

Joining her on the list of Watchman honors is Linden coach Teressa Bolden. While the success Bolden’s team had in 2015-2016 shocked the state, the encore performance proved even more challenging. After going 18-7 and ending in the Class 1A state championship a season ago, Linden lacked the luxury of being able to sneak up on teams in 2016-2017. Still, the Lady Patriots were ranked in the Top 5 the entire season and compiled a 22-5 record. Those losses came to Class 5A Demopolis, Class 4A state runner-up Greensboro and Class 1A state runner-up J.F. Shields.

For her efforts, Bolden is the 2017 West Alabama Watchman Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.

 West Alabama Watchman Girls Basketball All-County Team

First Team

Amber Richardson, Jr. – Linden

J’Mya Hall, Fr. – Marengo

Sylvia Clayton, Sr. – Demopolis

Tomysha Boykin, Sr. – Linden

Aniya Johnson, Fr. – Demopolis

Second Team

Darnesha Harris, Sr. – Demopolis

Imiya Agee, Sr. – Linden

Shakesaney Bell, Jr.. – Demopolis

Akayla McGhee, Fr.. – A.L. Johnson

Dajia Miller, Jr. – Linden