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17th of November 2018

Sport



PREP NOTEBOOK: Holy Spirit, Bryant off to hot 3-0 start

The Holy Spirit and Paul W. Bryant high school football teams are looking to make history this week.

The Class 1A Saints are 3-0 for the first time since the 2009 season and the Class 6A Stampede is 3-0 for the first time since 2015. A win this week would mark the first 4-0 start for both programs.

Holy Spirit gets its chance first, hosting Francis Marion in a Region 3 contest on homecoming night Thursday at 6 p.m. The Saints opened region play with a 62-6 victory over Ellwood Christian and are averaging 57.6 points per game while holding opponents to 9.3 points.

“They want to win. This is a big game and (Francis Marion) is a good team. It’s going to be a tough challenge,” second-year coach Mark Cochran said.

Last year marked Holy Spirit’s first playoff berth since 2009. The Saints finished 4-7, winning the same amount of games they had combined since the 2013 season. Since then, Cochran has noticed the culture continue to change around the program, which now features a group of veterans ready to lead the way.

“I am proud of them for what they are doing and where they are going. They are dialed in,” Cochran said. “They are getting better and better. They understand the ins and outs of what we do.”

Paul W. Bryant opened Region 4 play with a 24-6 victory over Brookwood last week. They host region rival Northridge on Friday. The Stampede’s defense has given up a total of nine points in their three contests combined. The offense is averaging 18 points.

Racking up yards

Central junior running back Javonta Leatherwood has rushed for a combined 715 yards in three games. He’s amassed 662 yards and 10 touchdowns in his last two contests without playing in the fourth quarter. The Falcons (2-1, 1-0) host Chilton County in a Class 5A, Region 3 contest Friday.

Undefeated start

The American Christian Academy volleyball team improved to 9-0 and 1-0 in Class 4A, Area 7 play with a 3-0 sweep over West Blocton on Monday. Earlier this season, the Patriots defeated Class 6A Brookwood to win Central’s annual Falcon Frenzy volleyball tournament out of a field of 16 teams.

Volleyball growth

Volleyball is the No. 1 girls sport in participation in Alabama and second most popular in the nation according to numbers released by the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Figures reported to the NFHS by the AHSAA for its participation survey listed 10,095 athletes in the state participating in girls volleyball during the 2017-18 school year from a total of 384 schools, which is a 2.2 percent increase from the year before. Softball was second in participation with 9,698 from 382 schools.

Nationwide, outdoor track led the way for girls with 488,592 participants, followed by volleyball (446,583) and basketball (412,407).

Football statistics

Area schools are invited to send their up-to-date statistics to The Tuscaloosa News each week. Stats must be received by noon Wednesdays and can be emailed to sports@tuscaloosanews.com and joey.chandler@tuscaloosanews.com or faxed to 205-722-0187.

Reach Joey Chandler at joey.chandler@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.

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