A weekly look at high school sports in the state of Alabama for the past week, a look ahead to what is on the horizon and a little 80s motivation. This is an opinion piece.
Philip Roebling will be back on the bench for his 18th year coaching the Theodore boys basketball team later this fall.
That’s the best news I’ve heard in quite a while.
When Roebling’s team lost to rival Baker in the Class 7A regional final last February, he was in an intense battle with colon cancer.
There was certainly a question about whether Roebling would be able to coach this year or, frankly, whether he would even still be with us.
“I’m praying every day that this is not the last game I get to coach against him,” Baker’s David Armstrong said after his team’s win that day.
Thankfully, it wasn’t. I’ve checked in with coach Roebling several times since writing a column about his fight last winter and he has kept me updated on his progress. This week, I received the following text from him:
“Just wanted to let you know that my scan came back clean. I am cancer free. Praise the Lord.”
Praise the Lord, indeed.
I can’t wait to watch Roebling and the Bobcats play this year.
Approaching a record
Piedmont senior QB Jack Hayes is already one of the most accomplished athletes in the state.
Last week, he accounted for all five of the Bulldogs’ scores in a 34-21 win over Plainview.
Those touchdowns moved him to within 2 TDs of the AHSAA career state record of 175 currently held by former Lanett star and Mr. Football winner Kristian Story (2015-2019).
Hayes’ 2 TDs passes last week moved him past former Pinson Valley quarterback Bo Nix into second place for most career TD passes thrown. Nix closed his prep career with 127 TD passes. American Christian’s Chris Smelley set the state record with 134.
Hayes will have a chance to catch and possibly pass Story tonight when the Class 3A No. 1 Bulldogs travel to Ohatchee.
Auburn High defeated Lee-Montgomery 58-7 at Cramton Bowl on Thursday night, recording the 600th win in the history of the program.
The Tigers are now 600-390-35. Auburn fielded its first football team in 1911. The Tigers have won 8 region championships but have yet to win a state title, although they came dangerously close in 2020 when they lost to Thompson 29-28.
Keith Etheredge’s team is now 5-0 in 2022 and ranked No. 1 in the state.
Elba can also reach the 600-win plateau next week. The Tigers, No. 1 in Class 1A currently, are off this week and holding at 599 wins. They face Providence Christian on Sept. 23.
Elba will be the 31st AHSAA team to reach 600 wins.
Several others are closing in as well, including Lanett (598), Oxford (598), Winfield (595), Andalusia (595), Brantley (594) and Central-Phenix City (591).
Oneonta leads the way overall with 712 victories followed by TR Miller with 711 and Fayette County with 709. Those are the only AHSAA schools with 700 or more wins. Deshler (686) could make it four next season.
Update on coach Mike Dean
Former Hillcrest-Evergreen head coach Mike Dean texted me Thursday to update me on his health condition.
Dean stepped down abruptly at Hillcrest in August, citing longstanding health concerns.
He will have surgery an extensive surgery on Monday that includes removing his gallbladder. He said recovery is expected to take 6-8 weeks, and he hopes to be close to pain free in November.
He also hopes to be back on the sidelines somewhere next year.
Dean also has been head coach at Daleville, McGill-Toolen, Valley, Charles Henderson, Mary G. Montgomery and Stanhope Elmore.
Praying for a full recovery, coach!
Thought for the Day
“The memories you will have tomorrow are made today. Live now in a way that will keep you free from regrets later.” —Tony Dungy, Uncommon Life, Daily Challenge
80s quote of the week
“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” – Ronald Reagan
Ben Thomas is the high school sportswriter at AL.com. He has been named one of the 50 legends of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Follow him on twitter at @BenThomasPreps or email him at email@example.com. His weekly column is posted each Friday on AL.com. He can be heard weekly on “Inside High School Sports” on SportsTalk 99.5 FM in Mobile or on the free IHeart Radio App at 2 pm Wednesdays.