Thursday will mark one year since Wellborn lost one of its sons, Aaron Devon Harris, better known simply as Tootie.
“He was a big part of our team,” coach Jeff Smith said. “Tootie didn’t really get to play a lot, but if I came in after a bad practice and was mad at the kids or something like that, he’d say, ‘Coach, we’ll get better. It’ll be better tomorrow.’
“He was just so uplifting and always so positive in everything. He just made a big difference for us with the team, coaches, school, faculty. I don’t think you could find one person that has said a negative word about him.”
With the unexpected passing of Tootie stunning the community that is so tightly knitted around the school and football program, his death still remains on the minds of many people as the one-year anniversary is two days away.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever completely get over it,” Smith said. “I hope and pray that we don’t have to go through anything like that again, and I don’t wish it on anyone else. It was very tough.”
Although Tootie did not have a chance to finish his senior season at Wellborn, there are remembrances of him at The Hill every Friday night. Along with No. 79 stickers on each helmet and a banner on the fence in the corner of the end zone by the Panthers’ locker room, Tootie’s jersey has also been retired.
“We’ll never forget it,” Smith said. “He meant a lot to us.”
• SIMPSON UPDATE: Not making the playoffs was one thing, but for Oxford’s Trent Simpson Friday night was even worse.
After going down in the fourth quarter, the wideout got onto the bus with the assistance of crutches. The final verdict was an ACL tear, according to coach John Grass.
The defensive end will have surgery today in Birmingham and will not only miss the rest of the season, but will also not be able to participate in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in December.
• HEAVY HEARTS: The hearts of many were hurt when news of Cherokee County assistant coach Fred Taylor’s death spread over the past two days.
“We just never saw it coming,” Warriors coach Tripp Curry said. “We have some folks on our staff that I hope learn a lot from him because he was such a good coach. I mean, the kids just loved him. He was more than an Xs and Os guy, he was always positive, always outgoing and just a good person.”
Speaking with Piedmont coach Steve Smith on Monday, he said Taylor was one of his best friends.
• HE’s BACK: Woodland got more than the 2A, Region 6 championship on Friday night. After spending two weeks in UAB Hospital, Mikey Howard returned to the field for the Bobcats.
Howard was released on Thursday and was eager to hit the field again.
“We just wanted to use him sparingly and didn’t want to affect him any,” coach Larry Strain said. “I think he’s getting his weight back now a little bit. He was down about 15 pounds for a minute from being in the hospital. He’s beginning to eat better and getting back up to full strength. We’re running him through some drills and things to test and see if he’s getting back up to full speed.”
Playing at what Strain said was around 75-80 percent, Howard rushed 14 times for 74 yards.
“He’s still a little bit sluggish and a little bit weak from being in the hospital,” Strain said. “He didn’t have the quickness that he normally has and was a little weak on his runs, but being a kid that’s been in the hospital for two weeks you aren’t going to do too well.”
Strain added Howard will practice this week, but was checked out on Monday with chills and hopes to be fully healthy by Friday night’s game against Cleburne County.
• BIG WIN: Several weeks ago while I was talking to Ohatchee coach Nathan Wehunt he told me he joked to his team they’re the best winless team in the state.
Well, sorry coach, that’s just simply not true. It simply can’t be because the Indians got in the win column last Friday night with their 67-6 victory over Victory Christian.
And that’s slightly an understatement. Ohatchee exploded into the win column, racking up more than 400 rushing yards and having six different carriers score, including Tristan Allen having five touchdowns. Take a bow, son.
Now the question is how will the Indians follow up their win.