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High School Sports

Foley football’s past and present

A meeting of Lions

Foley High School legend Ken Stabler and current quarterback Roosevelt Byrd meet for the first time

By Derek Belt
Mobile Press-Register
Oct. 3, 2006

FOLEY, ALA. — On this afternoon, it wasn’t about records or numbers. It was about Foley High School’s past and present—two No. 12s, meeting for the first time on their own home turf.

It was about camaraderie and togetherness. It was about football, then and now.

Current Foley quarterback Roosevelt Byrd and Ken “Snake” Stabler, who held that position from 1961 to 1963, tossed a few spirals back and forth on the freshly chalked field at Ivan Jones Stadium, then talked football in the very same locker room that Stabler once used. Continue reading “Foley football’s past and present”

Nation’s first profile of Atlanta Falcons star Julio Jones

The future

Foley’s Julio Jones already cream of 2008 recruiting crop

By Derek Belt
Mobile Press-Register
Sept. 5, 2006

FOLEY, ALA. — When Foley’s Julio Jones steps onto the football field, try not to look away. You don’t want to miss something special.

Whether it’s awe-inspired fans in the stands, baffled defensive coordinators trying desperately to rein in the Lions’ talented wide receiver, or a growing number of college scouts and recruiting analysts, it seems all eyes are on the 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior these days.

“He’s a playmaker. He makes things happen,” said Foley quarterback Roosevelt Byrd, who last week hooked up with Jones 10 times for 143 yards and a touchdown in Foley’s 36-14 drubbing of Murphy in a battle of top-10 teams.

Following a stellar sophomore season in which he caught 51 passes for 805 yards and eight scores—and an offseason in which he stole the show at virtually every camp, clinic and 7-on-7 tournament he attended—Jones is being hailed as one of 2008’s top college prospects in the country.

Bryan Matthews of AuburnSports.com wrote, “While there’s still debate over who the top football prospect in the state of Alabama is for ’07, the early discussion over the state’s top recruit for 2008 begins and ends with Foley wide receiver Julio Jones.” Continue reading “Nation’s first profile of Atlanta Falcons star Julio Jones”

Seattle schools’ loose transfer policy creates teenage ‘free agents’

By Derek Belt
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Jan. 27, 2008

SEATTLE — A toothless transfer policy for Seattle Public Schools allows some of the city’s best basketball programs to stockpile talent and turns coveted players into teenage free agents.

Aaron Dotson, the most recent high-profile example of a top-flight player jumping from one power program to another, transferred from Garfield High School to nearby Rainier Beach last year.

He was not forced to sit out the calendar year, as is required of any student who transfers schools for athletic purposes. Rainier Beach officials say Dotson did not transfer for athletic reasons and was therefore eligible to play. Garfield officials believe otherwise.

When filling out the paperwork to complete Dotson’s transfer, Garfield principal Ted Howard, after consulting with Bulldogs coach Dan Finkley and others, checked a box indicating he believed Dotson was transferring for athletic reasons.

Howard said it was all he could do to protest what he thought was an obvious attempt by Dotson to switch teams. Continue reading “Seattle schools’ loose transfer policy creates teenage ‘free agents’”

Girls make impact on local football teams

By DEREK BELT
Mobile Press-Register
Oct. 5, 2005

ELBERTA, ALA. – First-year Elberta Middle School football coach Adam Crandall saw nothing out of the ordinary the first time he glanced over the Raiders’ roster.

Nothing but the names of 44 boys planning to get down and dirty on the football field in the coming months. Anthony, Andrew, Justin and Josh all sounded like heavy-hitters to him, and he could already envision Steven, Sean, Ryan and Wesley making great plays to win the big game.

Then he saw it.

A name not usually associated with football.

Abby, he thought, is a very interesting name for a boy.

“They asked me in my interview what I thought about girls playing football,” said Crandall. “I told them I didn’t have any problems with it. They never said they had a girl playing, though. I just saw the roster and there she was.”

Abby Brock is not your typical seventh-grader, and Brittne Wheatley isn’t your typical eighth-grader. Why? Because both played football—a sport made for and dominated exclusively by men—and they both played it well. Continue reading “Girls make impact on local football teams”

High school hecklers can be personally foul

By Derek Belt
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
March 5, 2004

SEATTLE — If players play and coaches coach, what is the fans’ responsibility?

Some say their purpose is to show support for their team. Others argue they’re responsible for creating a lively atmosphere. Whatever the case, there’s no denying the importance of fans at the high school level.

But what about the few who take it to extremes: fans who holler obscenities from the security of the stands and complain to coaches about who took the last shot, or even worse, parents who try to proclaim their child’s successes as their own.

Is there any place for behavior like that in high school basketball?

“Absolutely not,” Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea said.

Continue reading “High school hecklers can be personally foul”

What’s hampering a once-proud high school athletics program?

Lean years for the Lions

Foley’s athletic teams have fallen on hard times—what’s the cause, and what’s the cure?

By Derek Belt
Mobile Press-Register
Dec. 26, 2004

FOLEY, ALA. — Michael Ebert stood in the visitor’s dugout at Daphne High School late in a 1999 baseball game, watching intently as his Foley team clung to a fragile one-run lead. It was his second year as the Lions’ baseball coach, and one of his first trips to Daphne’s state-of-the-art diamond facility.

“I was standing there looking around and it just kind of hit me,” said Ebert. “I mean, everything is the best you can buy. They’ve got indoor batting cages, a locker room built into their dugout, names on the back of their jerseys, matching bat bags and state championships everywhere.

“Then I look in their dugout, and the head coach had just won a state championship in Georgia on a team that was ranked in the top 10 in the nation. The assistant coach had won two state championships as a head coach, you had Bernie Carbo in there, who was an ex-professional baseball player, you had another guy who was just the head coach at LeFlore, and you had a kid from the University of Mobile who had just graduated and was helping out.

“I said to myself ‘There’s five guys in that dugout that know more about baseball than I do.’ But it was a 5-4 game and we were winning.”

Unfortunately for the Lions, Daphne stormed back to steal a 6-5 victory that helped steamroll Foley’s chances of making the playoffs later that year. Such is the status quo at Foley High School, where the odds have been stacked sky-high against an athletic program that was once a showcase of stability and success in Southwest Alabama. Continue reading “What’s hampering a once-proud high school athletics program?”

Foley likes having a Byrd in the hand

By Derek Belt
Mobile Press-Register
Sept. 22, 2005

FOLEY, ALA. — The Foley Lions have been reborn, and Roosevelt Byrd is a big reason why.

Just four games into the season, the Lions’ junior quarterback has thrown for 762 yards and 10 touchdowns while leading Foley to its first 4-0 start since 1995. He’s also rushed for 160 yards and five touchdowns, orchestrating the Lions’ new-look, high-powered offense with stunning proficiency.

Not bad for someone who once figured he would end up in jail.

When Byrd was an 8-year-old growing up in the Daphne area, he said his father was shot and killed after trying to buy drugs with counterfeit money. Byrd said his mother was constantly down on her luck and was of little help to her four children. Continue reading “Foley likes having a Byrd in the hand”

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