Opelika, Glenwood and Lanett Have High Expectations this Fall
THIRD ANNUAL FOX SPORTS HIGH SCHOOL MEDIA DAYS
Day 2 of the third annual Fox Sports High School Media Days kicked off on Wednesday. Teams in attendance included Russell County, Notasulga, Lanett, Benjamin Russell, Dadeville, Glenwood, Reeltown and Opelika.
The Opelika Bulldogs are chomping at the bit for another deep playoff run. Last season, Opelika won the Class 6A, Region 2 title and then fell short in the State Semifinal by losing a heartbreaker to Spanish Fort 27-24. This fall, the Bulldogs join an entire new Class 6A, Region 3 group of opponents. They’ll join Eufaula, Lee Montgomery, Carver Montgomery, Park Crossing, Russell County, Sidney Lanier and Valley.
Going into the season the Bulldogs look bigger and stronger than ever, but they’ve got to fill the role of quarterback. Three guys are competing for the starting role.
“The biggest thing is leadership and who can lead the team,” said Opelika Head Coach Erik Speakman. “The second thing is toughness. You’ve got to have a tough quarterback, and really all three of them can do it.”
A new quarterback needs confidence, and that starts up front with an experienced offensive line.
“We’ve been together since we were five or six. We’re tight bonded, tight knit,” said senior lineman Kris Epperson. “I mean we love each other, we play together and we know each other. Get the job done.”
Opelika was scheduled to start the season against Callaway, but COVID-19 omits out-of-state competition early this fall. The Bulldogs must make schedule changes or look for a new week one opponent.
The Lanett Panthers move up to Class 2A this fall after winning the 1A State Championship. Lanett defeated Mars Hill 41-30. Looking back at 2017 when the Panthers played 2A, they won the title and set a team record going (15-0).
Like Opelika, Lanett brings back a lot of skill guys. However, the quarterback position is up for grabs. Whoever earns the spot gains confidence with their strong core group of receivers.
“When you know you’ve got a receiver that you trust, and you can throw it to them when they say just throw it and they’ll catch it, it makes a big difference,” said Lanett Head Coach Clifford Story.
“I can trust them. That’s why I’m so comfortable because I feel like I’m able to trust them,” said Lanett junior quarterback and defensive end Caden Story. “When I’m able to get them the ball, I know they will make a play.”
The Panthers kickoff the season on the road against Georgianna.
Now to AISA, the Glenwood Gators have high expectations after falling short in the Class AAA State Championship. The Gators bring back eight starters on both sides of the ball, and roster 22 seniors. That’s huge for an AISA school.
Glenwood put last seasons’ loss in the past, and will focus on strengthening their foundation. That chemistry start with senior quarterback Jackson Griner and senior running back Kye Robichaux.
“We communicate off the field. We’ll go workout and throw the football. Make sure everybody is on the same page,” said Robichaux. “Getting into the playbook if we need to. We make FaceTime calls and everything.”
“We are experienced at the skill position. I think we’re loaded at the skill position. It reminds me of our 2017 team,” said Glenwood Head Coach Jason Gibson. “We’re in-experienced on the O-line, but I’ve got some great players there.”
The Gators scheduled a strong opponent for week one, facing the Class AAA Defending State Champions Bessemer Academy for a home game at ‘The Swamp’.