Lanett and Chambers Academy speak at day two of media days
Published 3:47 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Media days wrapped up on Wednesday with Chambers Academy and Lanett being the last two schools from Chambers county to take the podium.
The President of the Big East Officials Association, Dana Barker, opened media days. Barker talked about some rule changes that would be affecting local high school football teams.
One of the big rule changes going into the season will be the defenseless receiver rule. In college or the NFL, if a receiver is hit in a way when they are deemed defenseless it is a 15 yard penalty.
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Now, high school football in Alabama will be putting this rule into place. Players will not be allowed to lower their shoulder to dislodge a ball anymore. Now, if a receiver is deemed defenseless, the defender must wrap them up or their open hands. The rule will be left up to the judgment of the officials.
“Those ooh and ahh plays we call them, they’re trying to take those away [and] minimize risk,” Barker said. “And that’s gonna be purely judgemental on us number one to see if he’s defenseless, number two when does he regain himself and regain his ability to defend himself , to defend himself on the play.”
Barker spoke about the current official shortage across the country. Barker mentioned that with the current trends, the Big East as well as other official groups could have to ask more teams to play on Thursday to ensure the needed amount of officials.
AISA Director Roddie Beck also spoke on Wednesday. Beck took the time to champion the new 8-man football program.
“I believe I mentioned it when I was here last year, I feel like if we would’ve started our 8-man a little earlier, a couple of years ago we may have saved some of our member schools who are no longer open,” Beck said.
The AISA crowned a champion for 8-man football for the first time last season. Evangel Christian Academy was the team to win the first championship.
Head Coach Jason Allen took Ryan Smith, Ryan Ford and Kyle Hand with him to the podium. Chambers Academy was the first school to speak.
Allen spoke about his goals for the season, which include getting back to the state championship. Chambers Academy has missed the championship for the past two seasons. That drought would not seem significant for most schools, but it is the longest such drought that Chambers Academy has had in the past decade.
“Last two years, we’ve gotten beat in the semifinals after going to six consecutive state title games,” Allen said. “This has been the longest drought in the last 10 years that we’ve gone through for not playing for a state championship. I know that probably sounds kind of spoiled, but we kind of like to play for those championships. That’s our goal. That’s always our goal.”
Every year Jason Allen and his staff come up with a motto to lead their team by.
“We always have a motto we go by every year, something that our guys kind of rally around, and this year we’ve talked all summer long about how it’s hard till it’s easy,” Allen said. “I think that’s a great life lesson.”
Chambers Academy will again open the season with Lee-Scott Academy. Lee-Scott comes into the season as the defending state champions in 3A.
“That’s always a big game,” Allen said. “We always play that on a Thursday night, and that’s by design because we want to be the first high school game in the area, and we always have really big crowds so the host team really has a great gate. I like to play tough teams, and I like to play them early. I want to see where we stand.”
One of Chambers Academy’s leaders on offense and defense should be Kyle Hand. Hand’s brother, Landon Hand, is currently competing for the starting quarterback job.
“I feel like our offense has really just came together the past couple months of the summer,” Hand said. “I feel like we’ve kind of just been working together. We kind of got a sour taste in our mouth from last year. So, we’re ready to get back out there and prove some people wrong.”
Head Coach Chip Seagle spoke at the podium for the first time on Wednesday. Seagle took Tiunda Jackson, Jeremiah Roberson, Alajawon Whitfielt and Shamar Patterson with him to speak to the media.
Seagle started off by clarifying some things about Clifford Story’s departure as well as the current state of Lanett’s football program.
“I’m not gonna talk about a lot of the other things that some of the other guys talked about, most of yall know the story, but what I wanted to do was make sure people understood something about our situation at Lanett,” Seagle said. “I’ve had several people ask me, they say ‘why did Coach Story step down’? Coach Story stepped so he could follow his sons. He’s got one that’s going to start at Alabama and one is in the rotation at Clemson.”
Another misconception that Seagle sought to squash was that Story left because Lanett was not going to be a high level team.
“Another person said something about ‘they must not have anything coming back for him to leave’,” Seagle said. “Untrue, that’s slander to the top degree. He left the cupboard more than well stocked with coaches and players.”
Seagle’s love for Lanett has been well documented since before he even got hired. Every morning Seagle goes and runs the streets in Lanett because of a story about Abraham in the Bible.
“There’s a scripture in the Bible…, where God told Abraham to go out, walk that land and claim it,” Seagle said. “So, I run the streets of Lanett in the morning and claim it just like Abraham claimed the promised land. I’m back home. I’m not from Lanett, this is what I tell people, I am of Lanett.”
The Lanett program has had to go through a lot of diversity in the past two seasons. After returning from the pandemic, Lanett’s field house was engulfed in flames. For the past two seasons, Lanett has worked out at Valley Baptist Church. Seagle said that with this, the players were only getting around 30 minutes to work out.
“It’s tough for young people to do that, and it’s tough for adults to do that,” Seagle said. “The coaches had a hard time with it.”
Lanett now has a brand new field house with new workout equipment.
One of Lanett’s fastest and most dynamic players this season will be Alajawon Whitfield. Whitfield believes that he can be a mismatch for teams this season.
“I think I can be a mismatch this season because I’m playing quarterback this year,” Whitfield said. “Like Coach Chip said, he’s been preaching to me about it because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play it or not.”
Whitfield believes that having the ball in his hands will make it harder for defenses to take him out of the game, and he can set up himself and teammates better.