For the first time since 2008, the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) is hosting the Super 7 State Football Championships in Birmingham.
Seven championship games will be played at the newly opened Protective Stadium between December 1-3 (get tickets now), along with the inaugural girls’ flag football title game.
3 Communities / 700 Wins
Throughout the fall, on Friday nights in Alabama, one place where communities come together is under the lights at local high school football stadiums.
What has made the 2021 football season extra special and so unique is that not one, not two, but three schools surpassed 700 all-time victories for the first time in Alabama High School football history. The schools reaching this milestone:
- T.R. Miller High School in Brewton, Alabama
- Fayette County High School in Fayette, Alabama
- Oneonta High School in Oneonta, Alabama
Fun fact: All three schools are located in towns with populations of fewer than 7,000 residents.
To celebrate this three-way milestone as well as the return of championship football to Birmingham, we wanted to hear from the three schools and learn how high school football has brought their communities together for generations.
Here are their stories.
T.R. Miller’s Memorable September Evening
T.R. Miller High School claimed its 700th win in early September beating Cottage Hill Christian 36-6 on September 3. Coached by Brent Hubbert, the team became the first AHSAA school in state history winning No. 700 at Brewton Municipal Stadium. It was a memorable evening.
“We were very fortunate for our 700th victory to be a home game,” Coach Hubbert said. “It was pretty cool. While we went out onto the field for warm-ups, somebody arranged for anybody who had played here at T.R. Miller to be in the dressing room waiting for the team when they came back in.”
The team was greeted by about 70 former players in the locker room, ranging from recent graduates to alumni who hadn’t been on the field for decades.
The biggest treat? Coach Hubbert invited Coach Jamie Riggs, T.R. Miller’s legendary Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame coach who notched 293 wins and won four state titles during his 27 years with the Tigers. Coach Riggs gave a riveting pre-game inspirational talk fitting for the ending of a Hollywood movie, and the team charged onto the field and won the school’s 700th game with the victory over Cottage Hill.
“I’m blessed to be a part of a community that rallies around the school,” said Coach Hubbert.” It’s a blue-collar community with a strong work ethic, much of it surrounded by and made up of the pulpwood industry. These are hard-working people — and that bleeds into their kids. Our community supports the kids. They push them to do right. They push them to do things 100% … and it shows.”
In Fayette County, Football is like Family
Fayette County High School Tigers surpassed the 700 win mark a week after T.R. Miller beating Curry 48-0 on Sept. 10.
“West Alabama is known for football. Our community loves, loves football!” declared Fayette County’s Walden Tucker, the school’s head coach and the fourth winningest coach in Alabama High School Football history.
One of the oldest football programs in the state, Fayette County started playing in 1914.
“It’s more than football…it’s family,” described Fayette County’s Principal Jeremy Madden about football and athletics at his school. “In some cases, three, four or five generations of families have played high school football. Coach Tucker has coached three generations of families. It’s been a big influence on our town. It’s not just football. It’s people — good citizens and family. That’s our football program.”
During the home game against Hamilton High School earlier this year, the Tigers recognized their 700th victory and the school’s football heritage on the field, honoring every team — starting with the 1914 team.
“We had players and coaches all lined up out there on the ball field, ” said Coach Tucker. “We had folks there that were 90 years old walk out on the field. It was super nice.”
Oneonta Produces Good Kids
In early October, Oneonta High School in Blount County became the third team to join the exclusive 700 wins club, beating Scottsboro 35-14 on October 8.
When I spoke to Oneonta Head Coach Phil Phillips, a graduate from the school, he described the impact Redskins football had on him, even as a young student.
“I grew up watching the games, admiring those guys (Oneonta Redskins football players) and wanting to be one of those guys,” said Coach Phillips. “Everything seems to rally around sports in general, especially football, because it kicks off the school year. It’s been amazing to me over the years to see how a good football season can make a good school season.”
Everything in Oneonta stops and starts with the school. Nestled between Huntsville, Cullman, Gadsden and Birmingham, many local residents travel to these larger cities for work. But Oneonta is home. That’s the key to their success.
According to Coach Phillips, it’s all about the students.
“We just produce good kids. I tell coaches and reporters, I have an advantage over people that you just can’t overcome. I get to coach Oneonta kids. We get kids that are generally going to do everything they can to do what you ask them to do. They trust you —they trust their teachers and coaches. They trust their churches and their mamas and daddies.”
Winners on the Field and the Community
After finishing the interviews with the coaches from each school in the 700 wins club, I noticed they did not talk about wins and losses, Xs and Os or those super athletes who may have gone on to star in college or even the professional ranks. They each praised all the student-athletes who have contributed throughout the years, and they expressed respect and gratitude for the parents, educators and loyal community. Their enthusiastic support, character and school pride has been the foundation for the lasting memories so many now share.
On Display at Protective Stadium
Want to see the best high school sports has to offer? Make plans to be there to welcome the Super 7 State Football Championships back to Birmingham at Protective Stadium Dec. 1-2-3. Purchase your tickets today.
You’ll be glad you did!!!