A glimpse aheadPublished 1:55pm Saturday, July 28, 2012
With the 2012 prep and college football seasons around a month away many fans’ anticipation has reached a fever pitch and the Escambia Academy Cougar faithful are closer than most to kickoff, with the school’s season opener slated to begin Friday, Aug. 24 versus Fort Dale Academy at Bachelor Field in Canoe.
The Cougars will begin this year with extra motivation to succeed as first-year coach Hugh Fountain and the EA team will be only weeks removed from the loss of lineman Noah Allison. Allison died at only 17 in a car accident less than six months after transferring to EA from Charles Henderson High School in Troy alongside Fountain.
Attempting to put the summer’s tragedy behind them and win a championship for their fallen teammate, the Cougars will be looking to add to their mediocre 2011 season, despite the losses of both promising new players and the graduation of star running back Jaylen Henry.
At Escambia County High School, the Blue Devils are also looking toward a season under the direction of a new coach, as former Jackson High School coordinator Lev Holly takes the helm for the departed two-year head coach Mark Heaton.
Holly will lead the Devils into a season marked by last year’s redistricting, a move that changed several regional match ups for ECHS.
In 2012, the Devils will lose both B.C. Rain and powerhouse Jackson High School from their region schedule, but will add Clarke County and Andalusia.
After two years of success, including a playoff win over Andalusia under Heaton’s leadership, the Devils are hoping Holly and a new schedule will spell playoff wins in 2012.
At Northview High School the Chiefs are a bit more stable at the head coach position as Sid Wheatley once again returns for duty.
Despite the stability, NHS will face challenges of their own without graduating offensive leaders in quarterback Brandon Sheets and running back Montaio Mitchell.
NHS is also prepping for their second season in the new Florida rural league, a move that led them to their second consecutive deep playoff run in 2011.
With so many drastic changes in 2012, the ultimate success or failure of the Atmore area’s three football programs is still up in the air, but if the past is any indication, that fact will not stop rabid prep football fans from anxiously awaiting, and continuously speculating on, the beginning and end of the upcoming 2012 high school football season.