Nine area football players earn recognition in AHSAA Spotlight

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama High School Athletic Association recognized nine area football players in its weekly Spotlight late Monday afternoon.

Spring Garden’s Ben Ivey, Dakota Lambert and Hunter McCord, Sand Rock’s Braden Carver, Cherokee County’s Tyren Dupree and Jaren Lockridge, Piedmont’s Taylor Hayes, Collinsville’s Daniel Mann and Gaylesville’s Landon Lawson were among the athletes statewide to earn statewide recognition for their performances on Friday.

Ivey, a senior quarterback, and Lambert, a senior running back led the Panther offense in their 45-23 victory at Donoho. Ivey rushed for 137 yards on 15 carries with six rushing touchdowns and two 2-point conversions, while Lambert accumulated 161 yards on 19 carries. Lambert also had two receptions for 33 yards and a 2-point conversion.

McCord, also a senior, led the Panthers (5-0) on defense with seven tackles and two sacks.

Carver, a senior running back, rushed for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns (1 and 22 yards) on 16 carries and caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jansen Alexander in the Wildcats’ 34-14 win at Pisgah. The win improved Sand Rock’s record to 4-1.

Dupree, a junior quarterback, also had a solid night running the football. He ran for 108 yards on 18 carries and a 12-yard touchdown and passed for 67 yards in the Warriors’ 34-21 homecoming victory over Class 6A Carver of Birmingham.

Lockridge, a senior defensive back, helped the Warrior defense with his interception return for a touchdown as the Warriors improved to 4-2.

Hayes, a senior quarterback, combined for 256 yards (162 rushing and 94 passing) as defending 3A state champion Piedmont defeated defending 4A champ Leeds 29-14. Hayes accounted for all four touchdowns (three rushing and one passing) for the Bulldogs (6-0). It was Piedmont’s 16th straight win, and it avenged the Bulldogs’ last loss, which came on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 at the hands of Leeds in a 29-12 setback.

Mann, a sophomore filling in for senior quarterback Grant Jones, completed 15-of-26 pass attempts for 179 yards and two touchdowns, both to senior Dallas Reed, as Collinsville beat Cedar Bluff 35-14. Mann’s effort helped the Panthers improve to 3-2.

Lawson, a senior linebacker/fullback, posted eight tackles on defense and rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries on offense as the Trojans fell to Appalachian 49-20.

In other statewide happenings, G.W. Long High School’s 5-foot-7, 127-pound senior Garrett Sanders wears many hats for the Rebels football team of Coach Scott Horne. Last Friday night it was his foot, however, that provided the winning push as Long (4-0) knocked off New Brockton 31-28.

Sanders booted a booming 47-yard field goal as time expired to give G.W. Long the win and catapulted him into the AHSAA Prep Spotlight for Week 5 of the 2016 football season.

But his heroics did not begin with the kick. It capped a dramatic fourth-quarter that included 31 points being scored in the last 7:35. It featured three touchdowns in the last two minutes.

Dothan Eagle sportswriter David Mundee shared his description of the final seconds.

Sanders ran eight yards and got out of bounds with 3.4 seconds left to set up his winning field goal. He also kicked all four of his team’s extra points and had two punts for 94 yards, including a 42-yarder that was downed at the 1-yard line and a 52-yarder that turned the field with two minutes remaining in the game. Sanders finished with 86 yards rushing and one score on 10 carries and caught two passes for 55 yards.

The final quarter opened in a 14-14 tie. The Rebels, starting on the final play of the third quarter, moved 67 yards in nine plays with 7:25 left with Mackenzie Hicks scoring his second TD of the game on a 4-yard run.

New Brockton, coached by Justin Jones, tied the game again it on the ensuing series, capitalizing on a 59-yard Clay Kelley kickoff return. Quarterback Dalton Adkison ran it on five straight plays, scoring on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 5:24 left. Max Weeks’ extra point tied it at 21.

The Gamecocks held G.W. Long on the ensuing series, but Sanders turned the field position with his booming 52-yard punt to the New Brockton 20-yard line. On the next play, Rebels defensive end Jamel Beaty intercepted a Gamecocks pitch and ran 22 yards to the New Brockton 7. One play later Sanders scored, taking a speed sweep to the left before cutting inside at the edge for the touchdown and with 1:45 left, G.W. Long led 28-21.

The Gamecocks, though, were undaunted. Kelley ignited New Brockton with a 25-yard kickoff return. Starting at the Long 43-yard line, it took just five plays as Adkison connected with receiver Joseph Smith for the tying touchdown with 24.1 seconds left.

The Rebels got the ball at their own 48 and two plays later Sanders hauled in an 18-yard pass and got out of bounds at the 30 with time for one final play. The snap, the hold and the kick were perfect as the Rebels pulled out the win.

“I just wanted to be calm, take my time and get a good kick in,” Sanders said.

Horne said right before the kick he and his coaches were discussing different options, including a long pass play. “I know you might not believe this, but we don’t kick field goals in practice,” Horne said. “We had two options of what we wanted to do and we went with option two and he made it. Sometimes you make the right call and sometimes you don’t. It worked out for us. He made a great kick. The guys up front (on the line) held up and it went through.”

Horne said the intense game was much needed. “You want to be in a game like this before the playoffs,” he said.

New Brockton’s Jones also recognized the classic intensity. After the handshakes he screamed, “Second round. Let’s do this again.”

Jones also praised both sides. “Their kids made plays and our kids made plays all night long, back and forth. It was a heck of a ball game.”

Sanders’ effort edged out a big performance from Ohatchee running back Austin Tucker and Montevallo quarterback Zac Oden. Tucker rushed for 209 yards and scored five touchdowns as unbeaten Ohatchee (6-0) downed Ashville 54-20, improving to 6-0 for the first time since 2000. Tucker, who now had 1,053 yards rushing and 16 rushing TDs on the season, scored on runs of 9, 47, 11 and 18 yards. He also had a 20-yard TD catch.

Oden was 23-of-40 passing for 298 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 107 yards on 17 carries as the Bulldogs beat Bibb County 37-27. It was Montevallo’s first win over the Choctaws since 2004.


VESTAVIA CLAIMS SCHOOL’S 350TH WIN: Vestavia Hills running back Toliver Chatwood had 16 carries for 150 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-12 win over Helena as the Rebels, coached by Buddy Anderson, recorded the 350th win of the school’s program now in its 47th year. The school has won 65.8% of its games while compiling a 350-182-1 record during that span.

Anderson, who is in his 39th year as head coach, is 323-137-0 and ranks first in the AHSAA for football head-coaching wins. His 323 wins ties another former Alabama coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, who retired as the University of Alabama’s head football coach after the 1982 season with a career record of 323-82-17. Bryant’s record for the Crimson Tide was 232-46-9 over 25 seasons from 1958-1982.

Five other AHSAA high school coaches have won 300 or more games – Walton Tucker (309), Jamie Riggs (305), Glenn Daniel (302) and Jimmie Moore (317) and Robert Herring (301). Moore, however, won 226 games in Mississippi, Herring won 154 games outside Alabama and Tucker won 25 games at non-AHSAA member schools. Anderson is the only coach currently still coaching.

In other highlights reported:


TREVELL SMITH, HOUSTON COUNTY: Rushed for 315 yards on 22 carries with three touchdowns (17, 70 and 69 yards) in a 42-20 loss to Ashford.

RED WILLIAMS, GENEVA COUNTY: Rushed for 292 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries in the Bulldogs’ 36-14 win over Highland Home.

DREW HILL, HORSESHOE BEND: Had 19 carries for 236 yards and three touchdowns as the Generals beat Holtville 42-6. Teammate Trace Meadows added nine carries for 123 yards and two more scores for Coach Jason Franklin’s team.

TANNER TALLEY, SUMITON CHRISTIAN: Had 269 yards rushing in Sumiton’s 47-13 win over Vincent.

NOAH IGBINOGHENE, HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE: Had 221 total yards and three touchdowns on just five touches as the Huskies beat Center Point 55-0. He had 172 yards rushing on three carries and 49 receiving yards on two catches.

MARKEVIOUS MATTHEWS, TALLASSEE: The sophomore piled up a career-high 228 yards rushing on 19 carries in the Tigers’ 34-27 loss to T.R. Miller.

JACKSON KEITH, DECATUR HERITAGE: Rushed for 219 yards and a 44-yard touchdown, caught a 4-yard TD pass and recovered an offensive fumble in the end zone for a score in a 42-22 win over Shoals Christian.

REYNARD ELLIS, SHADES VALLEY: Rushed 15 times for 207 yards in a 28-25 setback to Pinson Valley.

BRENT MYERS, BRINDLEE MOUNTAIN: Had 30 carries for 193 yards as the Lions fell 19-16 to Douglas.

STEVONTE TULLIS, ASHFORD: Gained 181 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns in a 542-20 win over Houston County. He scored twice in the second half as the Yellow Jackets broke open a 21-20 game after intermission with 21 unanswered points.

JACOB SANDERS, MARION COUNTY: Rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns (24 and 51 yards) on 23 carries as the Raiders beat Carbon Hill 40-28.

MATTEHW MARQUET, CHELSEA: Rushed for 165 yards and passed for 101 and accounted for four touchdowns as the Hornets beat Gardendale 38-21.

DEKARLOS BILLINGSLEY, SCOTTSBORO: Registered 29 carries while gaining 146 yards as the Wildcats beat North Jackson 24-6. The senior running back scored two touchdowns and had seven tackles on defense.

RYAN WARREN, DALEVILLLE: Rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns (1 and 40) on 14 carries, had a 23-yard TD reception and threw a 26-yard halfback pass to the 1-yard line to set up the eventual winning touchdown in the third quarter as the Warhawks knocked off defending Class 2A state champion Elba 27-22 to snap a nine-game winning streak. The regular-season loss for Elba was just its second in the last 26 games. The Tigers have gone 32-3 in their last 35 games.


DEVNE DANIEL, CORNER: Led Corner to a 55-41 win over Oak Gove accounting for six touchdowns. He rushed 18 times for 183 yards and five touchdowns and completed 5-of-7 passes for 150 yards and another TD to finish with 333 total yards.

SETH WADSWORTH, SOUTHEASTERN: The junior quarterback completed 8-of-12 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 12 times for 69 yards and another TD in a 38-8 win over Brilliant. He intercepted a pass on defense and returned 86 yards for his fifth touchdown of the night to finish with 348 all-purpose yards.

MAURICE ROBINSON, MURPHY: Was 13-of-27 passing for 147 yards and rushed 17 times for 151 yards as Murphy snapped a three-game losing streak with a 28-21 victory over Saraland. Robinson rushed for three TDs (3, 46 and 9 yards) and passed for a 12-yard score to account for all four touchdowns.

BRANDON CROSBY, MAE JEMISON: Passed for 193 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 78 yards and one score and returned a fumble 40 yards for another TD in a 42-27 loss to Buckhorn.

CHAPPELLE WADE, CARVER-BIRMINGHAM: Was 20-of-36 passing for 297 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-21 loss at Cherokee County.

ANDREW BARFOOT, SATSUMA: Completed 13-of-14 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score as Satsuma nipped rival Citronelle 33-26.

CHASE OVERSTREET, BALDWIN COUNTY: Was 15-of-24 passing for 196 yards and four TDs as the Tigers beat Alma Bryant 35-14.

TREVOR OAKES, HARTSELLE: Passed for 295 yards and four touchdowns as the Tigers beat Russellville 45-38.

JORDAN SEYMOUR, HAZEL GREEN: Was 22-of-30 passing for 197 yards and rushed for 56 yards on 13 carries in a 27-20 win over Sparkman. He provided two important touchdowns in the second-half comeback win.

PAYNE STANCIL, WEST END: Threw four touchdowns passes–all in the first half–in the Patriots’ 27-25 win over Pleasant Valley. Stancil tossed TD passes of 30 and 8 yards to Andrew Little, 43 yards to Dylan Butler and 36 yards to Jordan Malin. Little also intercepted a Pleasant Valley pass with 2:32 remaining to seal the win.

DAULTON HYATT, ETOWAH: Completed 12-of-18 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns and rushed five times for 26 yards as the Blue Devils beat Fort Payne 21-16.


CONNER HOWELL, GARDENDALE: Caught 12 passes for 220 yards and one TD in a 38-21 loss to Chelsea.

MARLON WILLIAMS, McGILL-TOOLEN: Had five pass receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two more touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets beat Blount 45-12.

WILL COOPER, HUNTSVILLE: Caught five passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns (57 and 54 yards) in a 40-21 win over Columbia.

TYRIQUE PURVIS, DECATUR: Snagged eight passes for 176 yards and two scores in the Red Raiders’ 34-14 win over Lee-Huntsville.

BRAXTON ROBINSON, ELBA: Caught 5 passes for 152 yards with two touchdowns in a 27-22 loss to Daleville.

JOSHUA JONES, CARVER-BIRMINGHAM: Caught six passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ 34-21 loss at Cherokee County.


DEVIN MARCH, HOUSTON COUNTY: Totaled 21 tackles with one quarterback sack in the Lions’ 42-20 loss to Ashford.

PRESTON GARNER, DOUGLAS: Made three interceptions for the Eagles as Douglas won its first game of the season 19-16 over Brindlee Mountain.

BRANDON HEARD, HORSESHOE BEND: Had 12 tackles and a sack in the Generals’ 42-7 win over Holtville.

MARCUS JONES, ENTERPRISE: Intercepted two passes and also batted down a lateral that teammate Darius Jones picked up and returned for a touchdown in the Wildcats’ 45-10 win over Theodore.

DANTRELL LINDOR, HEADLAND: Returned an interception for a touchdown for the winning touchdown as the Rams beat Providence Christian 13-7.

RICKY HALL, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: Recorded 19 tackles in a 13-7 loss to Headland.

CARLOS JOHNSON, B.C. RAIN: The freshman nose guard had 11 tackles with three sacks in a 19-0 win over Williamson.

WILL IGNONT, BUCKHORN: Recorded 10 tackles–six for loss, three sacks and two pass breakups in a 42-27 win over Mae Jemison.

AUSTIN FREEMAN, SCOTTSBORO: Had eight tackles and an interception return for 61 yards in the Wildcats’ 24-6 win over North Jackson. Teammate Evans Wright also had eight tackles and recovered a fumble as a mainstay on the defensive line.

MARQUEL SHELTON, BESSEMER CITY: Had five tackles for losses and 11 total stops as the Tigers topped Wenonah 29-15.


CHASE WIDGEON, OHATCHEE: Returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and returned four punts for 45 yards as the Indians beat Ashville 54-20.

GARRET KENNEDY, WESTBROOK CHRISTIAN: Blocked a punt in the fourth quarter that led to the game winning touchdown as the Warriors edged White Plains 21-19. He also rushed 14 times for 113 yards and a 65-yard TD.

SAM KIMEL, RANDOLPH: Returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, had two TD receptions and a long run to finish with 306 all-purpose yards as Randolph beat Ardmore 48-13.

KYRIQ McDONALD, JAMES CLEMENS: Scored on an 81-yard kick return, a 30-yard interceptions return and a 50-yard run to help the Jets beat Clay-Chalkville 28-6.

GRANT WOODRUFF, COTTAGE HILL CHRISTIAN: Returned the opening kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown as Cottage Hill beat Chickasaw 47-14 for the Warriors’ third straight win. He also rushed for one TD and caught a pass for another score.

ANDREW OSTEEN, ENTERPRISE: The Wildcats kicker made a 27-yard field goal, 6-of-6 extra points and punted twice for a 48.5 yard average with one of the two punts being downed inside the 20 during Enterprise’s 45-10 win over Theodore.

City OKs downsized Riverside plan

In front of a packed room of 60 to 70 opponents, the Rome City Commission approved on Monday plans by Ledbetter Properties for 80 acres on Riverside Parkway around Burwell Creek.

Wright Ledbetter said the company — Riverside Parkway Partners LLC — would close on the $600,000 purchase from the city by the end of the year.

Plans call for nearly 72 acres to be put into a perpetual conservation easement and about 8 acres dedicated to development. Ledbetter said they’re considering offices, although the market is slow. Shops and restaurants are more likely options.

“Rome is under-retailed,” Ledbetter said following the vote. “The fact that Sears and Kmart closed had more to do with Sears and Kmart than Rome.”

He estimates a total investment of at least $10 million and, if the company’s Riverwalk development across the street is an indication, as many as 500 jobs.

The 5 to 3 vote by the commission to accept the revised agreement ends a process that started in April 2007. Since then, Ledbetter said his company has spent more than $1.35 million on plans and environmental investigation.

The final plan — actually suggested by Coosa River Basin Initiative — is significantly smaller than an early proposal to develop about 50 acres. Also, the company obtained a permit to impact up to 4 acres of wetlands and this will affect less than 0.2 acres.

Still, the crowd of CRBI and Save Our Central Park members, called for the board to reject any development on the property.

“Once you sell it, you can’t get it back,” said Jeremy Smith, adding that “We need more parks, not more parking lots.”

Mayor Jamie Doss took public comments before the board voted, with most of the speakers touting the natural landscape and the duck pond — “a symbol of the city,” Stacy Cates said.

Others contended the downsized project no longer serves the city’s original purposes of seeking even low-end jobs along with someone to cap the old municipal landfill on the site. Any leakage of the landfill, which is in the conservation easement, will remain the city’s responsibility.

“The outlook in 2007 was different than it is now … What retailer is going to come there that won’t come somewhere else (in the city),” said Commissioner Wendy Davis, one of the three who voted against the plan.

Commissioners Sue Lee and Sundai Stevenson also were opposed.

In favor were Commissioners Milton Slack, Bill Collins, Craig McDaniel and Evie McNiece. Commissioner Bill Irmscher was out of town and Doss made up the fifth vote needed to carry the motion.

“I don’t know that I would spend $1 million, then give up all that acreage for greenspace,” Collins said about the Ledbetters. “Their hearts are right here in this community and they have showed that.”

Under the revised agreement, the city retains final say over the site plan. There also will be a pedestrian trail through the site connecting Ridge Ferry Park and Jackson Hill.

Ledbetter said plans for a system of public trails on the conservation property also would be developed within a year, with input from the city and local stakeholder groups.


GUEST EDITORIAL: US economic freedom not so exceptional

Since the birth of our nation 240 years ago, America has been held up as a beacon of liberty for the entire world. And while the U.S. is still among the freest countries on earth, there is evidence that this light has dimmed in recent decades.

The decline can be seen in the United States’ performance in the “Economic Freedom of the World” reports published by the Fraser Institute and the Cato Institute, falling from a peak of 2nd in 2000 to 16th in 2016 (covering 2014 data).

Hong Kong and Singapore grabbed the top two spots, respectively, once again, followed by New Zealand and Switzerland.

“Due to a weakening rule of law, increasing regulation and the ramifications of wars on terrorism and drugs, the United States has seen its economic freedom score plummet in recent years, compared to 2000 when it ranked second globally,” the Cato Institute explained in a press release.

The index of economic freedom is based on 42 data points in five categories: size of government (taxes, expenditures, etc.), legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally and regulation of credit, labor and business.

The change in the U.S. score has been most pronounced in the Legal System and Property Rights category, with greater abuses of civil asset forfeiture, under which law enforcement agents may seize money and other property even if one is never charged — much less convicted — of a crime, and eminent domain (particularly following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo v. City of New London in 2005).

In addition, the rule of law has been damaged by the militarization of the police, especially with regard to the “war on drugs” and the “war on terror,” and the USA Patriot Act of 2001 violated citizens’ privacy rights and “opened the door to massive circumvention of the legal system,” the authors noted.

“While the political and economic institutions in the United States have not changed greatly over the years, there has been a slow evolution that has served to loosen the constitutional restrictions on the powers of government. That erosion of the limits on government has contributed to the decline in economic freedom,” the authors asserted. “Expanding economic freedom provides the path to prosperity. The United States is on the wrong path.”

Even if the U.S. has faltered a bit in its leadership role as the embodiment of freedom and opportunity, the news is not all bad, however.

Over the past 35 years, worldwide economic freedom has increased significantly, which, not coincidentally, has also led to a drastic reduction in global poverty rates.

As the “Economic Freedom of the World” reports and mountains of economic literature have demonstrated, rededicating the nation to enhancing economic freedom, instead of imposing government restrictions and controls, would not only allow the U.S. to reclaim the mantle of global champion for liberty, but would also bring greater prosperity and help to boost sluggish economic growth and stagnant incomes.


Seventeen arrested on unrelated drug charges

Over the last week the DeKalb County Drug and Major Crimes Unit along with the drug dogs Mako and Jogi have made 17 drug arrests.

Those arrested, according to a press release from Dekalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris, were as follows:

-Briggs Mitchell Hatley, 53, of Wellington, Ala., on two counts of counts of Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

-Jason Ray Mooneyham, 33, of Crossville and David Beau Brown, 22, also of Crossville for Unlawful Manufacturing Controlled Substance and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Brown was also charged with Giving False ID to Law Enforcement.

-Monica Renee Bogle, 19, of Fort Payne, Aaron Hegwood, 18, of Fort Payne and Hunter Jacob Moseley, 18, of Fyffe, for Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

-Heath Allen Haney, 32, of Valley Head, for Unlawful Possession of Marijuana in the second degree, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Obstructing Justice with False ID and warrant for Receiving Stolen Property.

-Carrie Suzanne Tolbert Byrd, 33, of Albertville, for Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree.

-Jeremy Matthew Jones, 40, of Fyffe, for Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree.

-Eric Shannon Richards, 44, of Dawson, on two counts of Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree and Pistol Concealed without Permit.

-Mary Elizabeth Bates, 44 of Dawson and Sharon Marie Luke Adkins, 46 of Section on two counts of Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree.

-Alex Eugene Goldthreate, 47, of Collinsville, for Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and warrant for Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance.

-Skylar Christian Markle, 26, of Albertville, on two counts of Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Three individual were arrested for outstanding warrant:

-Michael Lloyd Skyles, 55 of Fort Payne, on warrants for Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree.

-Billy Wayne Walker, 51, of Henagar, on warrants for Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Parole Violation.

-Brandon Keith Davis, 22, of Crossville, on warrants for Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

There were also two sex offenders arrested including Dwain Allen Williams, 51 of Crossville for leaving the state without notification to the Sheriff’s Office and Jerry Lewis Avirett, 52, of Crossville, for failure to register with local Law Enforcement, according to the press release from Sheriff Harris.

Most of these arrest was made possible by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit Mako and handler Deputy Andy Brown and Jogi and handler Deputy Duck Jones, Harris said.

“Mako and Jogi have been a great addition to the DeKalb Drug and Major Crimes Unit and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, they have helped make so many drug arrest,” said Harris. “Mako is about 7 years old and due to health reason we will have to retire him really soon. Jogi is about 6 years old and we will have to retire him in about a year.”

Sheriff Harris says “this was a busy week and a lot of these arrest came from traffic stops where the K-9’s were called to assist. We are already in the process of replacing Mako, these dogs are usually around $8,500 to $10,000 to purchase the dog and its handlers training with the dog. These dogs are a valuable asset to the Sheriff’s Office. The K-9’s also assist the cities and other counties when we are called upon. We also have an arson dog that has been a valuable asset to counties all over North Alabama. Myself and Etowah County Todd Entrekin purchased this K-9 named Andy for the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office. His handler is Deputy Fire Marshal Ray Cumby.”

Ballenger’s to shut down Friday night, completely booked for final 2 nights

Ballenger’s Restaurant will close Friday.

Known for its steak and service, the restaurant on U.S. 27 in Subligna is one of those country places that folks don’t just stumble across. You have to be very intentional to find it.

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It looks pretty much like any old building on the side of the highway in Chattooga County. Reservations for the final two nights, Thursday and Friday, are completely booked up.

Herb Ballenger opened the restaurant in June 1992. Ballenger, along with other heirs to the estate of his grandfather, the late T.D. Ballenger, have decided to settle his estate with an auction sometime in early November.

“The date depends on how quickly the auctioneer, Bob Tucker, can get everything lined up,” said Martha Ballenger, Chef Herb’s mother.

The restaurant has only been open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

“We’ve developed a lot of friendships over the years,” Martha Ballenger said.

Rome Assistant District Attorney John McClellan said the personal service customers get from Chef Herb and his family is one of the factors that set the restaurant apart.

“I was not as regular as a lot of people were but Herb would always come out and talk with you,” McClellan said. “I think they had the best steaks of anywhere around Rome.”


SHANNON FAGAN: Crucial games this week

We’re past the midway point of the high school football regular season, but things are just now getting interesting.

For most of our area teams, it’s about playoff positioning from here on out. For others, it’s about keeping their heads above water and finishing the season strong.

I’d like to do the same with picking.

I went 5-1 last week. I should have known better than to doubt the Cherokee County Warriors on homecoming, but oh well. I’m still 27 games over .500 (30-3 for those of you counting), but with each passing week it’s getting a little tougher.

Almost as tough as picking which game I’m going to attend this Friday.

There are three games around the area I’d love to see, but since they haven’t perfected the cloning process yet, I’m only able to go to one. Glad I still have a few days left to think about it. It might just come down to a coin toss, like some of these potential playoff spots in a few short weeks.

The push toward the playoffs begins now.

Gaylesville (1-4) at Woodville (1-4): Here are two of those teams I was talking about trying to keep their heads above water. Both teams have four-game losing streaks, but with a win, it could ignite a spark that could salvage what’s left of the 2016 season.

I know Gaylesville has a ton of injuries, but the Trojans have never lost to Woodville. They’re 10-0 in their history against the Panthers.

Somehow, someway, Gaylesville gets back in the win column … Gaylesville 26, Woodville 20.

Coosa Christian (2-4) at Spring Garden (5-0): Spring Garden got its toughest challenge of the season last week in a come-from-behind win at Donoho. There’s potential for the Panthers to get another one this week from the Conquerors, but when you have a smothering defense and a senior-laden backfield like Spring Garden, it’s too tough a task for almost any 1A team. The Panthers move to 6-0 … Spring Garden 42, Coosa Christian 13.

Valley Head (1-3) at Cedar Bluff (3-2): I know the Cedar Bluff Tigers are still licking their wounds from last week’s loss at Collinsville, but this is still a team not to be toyed with. Both of their losses have come against bigger schools.

I know Valley Head has had an off week to get some things corrected from its last loss, but even with that, I still like Cedar Bluff to come out on top in this one … Cedar Bluff 36, Valley Head 14.

Collinsville (3-2) at Westbrook Christian (2-3): Since Brian Mintz took over the head coaching duties for Shea Monroe, Westbrook Christian has responded well. The Warriors have won two in a row, including last week’s 21-19 victory over Class 4A White Plains.

Collinsville coach Ernie Willingham told me after Friday’s win against Cedar Bluff the Panthers will have their guard up, and I have no reason to doubt him … Collinsville 34, Westbrook Christian 21.

Weaver (4-1) at Piedmont (6-0): Speaking of dangerous teams, there’s none more scarier than the Piedmont Bulldogs right now. They just whipped Class 4A Leeds, and they appear headed for another championship run.

But don’t discount the Weaver Bearcats. Their lone loss this season has been to Ohatchee, and the Indians are undefeated. I look for the Bearcats to give Piedmont a challenge, but Taylor Hayes and company are just playing at another level right now … Piedmont 33, Weaver 14.

Saks (3-2) at Cherokee County (4-2): Here are two more teams who are on a roll. Both of them started at 0-2, but haven’t lost since.

A big part of both squads’ successes of late has been defense. Saks has only allowed a total of 12 points in the past three weeks, including a 37-0 shutout of St. Clair County last week.

The Warriors haven’t been too shabby either. In their three region wins, they’ve yielded an average of less than a touchdown, so points may be at a premium in this one.

But I like the Warriors here. They’re playing at home, and I think they have enough firepower to get them by … Cherokee County 31, Saks 28.

Fyffe (5-0) at Sand Rock (4-1): What a game we have here. It could very well be for the Class 2A, Region 6 championship, and Fyffe could come into Russell Jacoway Stadium as the top-ranked team in the state after what transpired last Friday.

The Red Devils haven’t given up more than 14 points in a game all season and that was in their opener against Geraldine (48-14). They’ve posted two straight shutouts, including last week’s 35-0 victory at Plainview.

Plainview is the one opponent these two teams have in common, and it’s Sand Rock’s lone loss. I know the Wildcats have come a long way since their season opener, but I still don’t think they’re quite on the level Fyffe is right now … Fyffe 35, Sand Rock 21.

National cross country champion to speak at banquet at Berry College

In the long run, the event has become a vital part of keeping the future of the sport on the right path.

When the annual River City Bank Rome Half Marathon is held on Saturday, Dec. 3 at State Mutual Stadium, an event that expects to draw hundreds of runners that will compete individually in the 13.1 mile race, a half-marathon relay or a 5k run, the winner will once again be Greater Rome’s high school distance teams and the athletes who make up those programs.

“Nearly $15,000 have been given back to the high schools since we started it five years ago,” Jay Stephenson, who founded GoGo Running and has partnered with River City Bank in presenting the Rome Half Marathon, said about what the event is all about.

“River City Bank is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of what has become a great community event,” said Roger Smith, RCB president and CEO, “and benefits and promotes the health of the students in Rome and Floyd County.”

Stephenson points out that even before the runners toe the line, the area’s prep teams and athletes will benefit from hearing another nationally-known standout when the GoGo Running All-Area Cross Country Banquet is held Friday, Dec. 2 at Berry College with U.S. national cross country champion Sarah Hall serving as the guest speaker.

“I’ve know the Halls since 2002,” said Stephenson, noting that Hall’s husband, Olympian Ryan Hall, spoke at the event in 2015. “Sarah is one of the most encouraging people you’ll ever want to meet.”

Sara Hall, a seven-time All-American at Stanford, was the 2012 US National Cross Country Champion and in 2011 won the gold medal at the Pan American Games in the steeplechase.

A professional athlete for Asics and a devout Christian, she has also represented the U.S. at three World Indoor Track and Field Championships and a World Cross Country Championship.

Her appearance as the banquet speaker adds to what is a remarkable list of high-profile and decorated runners who have attended the event, a list that has included Olympians Jim Spivey, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom and Zola Budd.

“Hearing from runners like that – what an incredible education for the kids to get,” Stephenson said, adding that the public is welcome to attend the banquet.

The RCB Rome Half Marathon, Half Relay and 5k will all begin and end at State Mutual Stadium on Saturday, with the 5k starting at 8 a.m. and the Half Marathon and Relay starting at 8:05.

Last year, former Berry College standout Kyle Harris won the Half Marathon covering the distance in 1 hour, 13:16 minutes, while Rome’s Jill Braley captured the women’s title.

For more information on the River City Bank Half Marathon, Half Relay and 5k, and the GoGo Running All-Area Banquet go to or contact GoGo Running at The Shoe Box at 706-291-0752.


Ms. Becky Miguel Francisco

Ms. Becky Miguel Francisco, 18 of Centre, passed away Thursday, September 22, 2016 at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Ms. Francisco was a native of Cherokee County, was a student at Cherokee County High School and was a member of Grace Point Church Of God.

Funeral services were held Sunday, September 25, 2016 at Perry Funeral Home Chapel, with Rev. Ricky Pollard, Rev. Shane Swafford, and Rev. Albert Alameda officiating. Burial followed in Pine Grove Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the funeral home. Perry Funeral Home Directing.

Survivors include parents, Miguel Juan Francisco and Magdelena Mateo Juan; brothers, Ricardo Francisco, Alejandro Mateo both of Centre; sisters, Reyna, Yazmin Francisco, both of Centre; grandparents, Maria Pedro Miguel Francisco, Matias Antonio Eulalia, Maria Pedro Miguel and Juan Francisco all from Guatemala.

City to take up Riverside plans

The fifth — and potentially final — change to an agreement between Ledbetter Properties and the city of Rome regarding development of an 80-acre tract on Riverside Parkway is up for debate tonight.

The Rome City Commission is slated to decide on Ledbetter’s scaled-down shopping center proposal at its meeting set for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 601 Broad St.

Members of the Coosa River Basin Initiative have tracked Ledbetter’s plans for the city-owned property near Burwell Creek since 2007. CRBI spokesman Joe Cook has praised the company’s willingness to compromise, but board member Terrell Shaw said this month that any development in the wetlands is unacceptable to the organization.

The city’s Redevelopment Committee, which includes three of the nine sitting commissioners, has unanimously backed the proposal. If approved tonight, Robert H. Ledbetter Jr. said his company wants to close on the purchase before the end of the year.

Under the new proposal, just under 8 acres would be reserved for a shopping center similar to Ledbetter’s Riverwalk across the street. Nearly 72 acres would be put into a conservation easement, with plans for a trail that would connect Ridge Ferry Park through the Burwell Creek area to Jackson Hill.

The purchase price for the acreage remains unchanged at $600,000 in the proposed agreement.

Also on the City Commission’s agenda tonight is a public hearing on a request to annex a home at 4 Kirkwood St. in the Riverside subdivision. The parcel would remain zoned as High Density Traditional Residential.

Commissioners also are slated to hear during caucus about the upcoming Hospitality House fund­raiser Walk A Mile In Her Shoes and the North Rome community’s push to move the recycling center from Watters Street.

The caucus, which starts at 5 p.m., and the regular meeting are both open to the public.

Between the two sessions the commissioners have a closed session scheduled. The agenda does not state the nature of the item up for discussion, but topics are limited by state law to certain personnel items, property purchases and potential or pending litigation.