A brief history lesson on Anniston football
by Nick Birdsong
Nov 29, 2011 | 4117 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I reported last week that this year’s Anniston football team was the third in school history to reach the state semifinals, placing it in the illustrious company of the 1989 and 1994 state championship teams.

There were actually at least two other teams to reach the semifinals albeit under a different playoff format.

The 1974 Bulldogs went 9-0 in the regular seasons then reached the state semifinals after a bye in the first-round and a victory in the quarterfinals. Back then, there were only four rounds in the state playoffs. The 1982 team became the first Anniston squad to win two games in the playoffs when they advanced to the Class 4A semifinals, where they lost to W.A. Berry, now Hoover, under a similar format when there were only four classifications.

This year’s Bulldogs, who went 9-5 and earned a second-straight Region 6 title under Eddie Bullock, are the third under the current six classification, five-round playoff format.

So, there’s that.

And of course props are due to our resident historian correspondent Rip Donovan.

• WHO THAT?: Don’t feel bad if you were in attendance at this past Friday night’s Class 4A state football semifinals between Anniston and Oneonta and didn’t recognize the guy toting the rock for the Redskins.

It was senior Tyler Smith but he hadn’t played in that role in any of the Bulldogs’ previous three meetings with Oneonta.

Smith rushed for 102 yards on 19 carries, averaging nearly eight yards a carry in the second half, and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the Redskins’ 21-14 victory at Lott-Mosby Memorial Stadium but is relatively new to his role in the offensive backfield.

“He’s been big for us but he hadn’t played running back all year,” Oneonta coach Don Jacobs said.

Smith didn’t suit up at tailback until Week 9 against Cleburne County when he rushed for about 185 yards, Jacobs said.

“We just kept feeding it to him and found someone else to play linebacker,” Jacobs added.

Oneonta (12-2) will face top-ranked Jackson (14-0) Friday at 11 a.m. in the state championship game.

• WAIT AND SEE: The expectations for Anniston’s boys basketball team are once again high. And why wouldn’t they be? The Bulldogs are coming off a 21-10 season a year ago in which they finished as state runners-up, losing to Butler in the Class 4A state final.

They return point guard Lasheddrick Edmondson and forward Denzel Roberts, both first-team selections to The Star’s Class 4A-6A All-Calhoun County team. Edmondson burst on the scene as a junior least season when he averaged 20.7 points per game and scored a career-high 33 points in an upset against Hillcrest-Evergreen in the state semifinals on his way to earning first-team all- state honors.

Roberts averaged nearly a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds a contest. He’ll be aided in the paint by 6-foot-2 senior Lafayette Ragland.

However, there are plenty spots to be filled in the playing rotation.

Longtime coach Schuessler Ware said he’s expecting seven or eight players from Anniston’s football team, which made its deepest run in the playoffs in nearly 20 years when it reached the state semifinals, to joint the basketball team this winter.

Their late arrival leaves Ware with plenty to sort out before they travel to Birmingham to face Class 5A Parker Dec. 6th.

“We always have the same goals,” Ware said. “That’s to play hard, no one to get hurt and, God willing, have a successful season.”

When asked what newcomers he expected to garner significant playing time, “Right now, it’s hard to say. Football season just ended. But we expect whoever suits up to produce,” Ware said.

Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.

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