Super Six truly is battle of champions

Published 5:15 am Wednesday, December 4, 2002

At the beginning of this football season, T.R. Miller head coach Jamie Riggs said his team's biggest goal was to get better each week. Well, those of us who followed the Tigers on their journey in 2002, know that this team met that goal to the tee. Not to belittle other teams' achievements, but the truth is Miller is a different team today than the one that fell to Straughn and Andalusia. The third loss, to Pike County, was a hard-fought battle that went down to the wire. I for one figured the two teams would meet again in the playoffs.
The road has led 12 teams to the spotlight of Alabama high school football - the Super Six. To play for a state title is the goal of every athlete on all levels. Winning the title is their dream. As practice continues through this last week of the season, the coaches and players at T.R. Miller know what their job is and what to do to get it done. After all, these guys have been here before.
This year a lot of the teams find themselves in familiar territory. The Tigers' opponent is no stranger to state championships. The Colbert County Indians have won six state championships and been a runner-up four other times. Most recently, they won the title in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
The fact that the Tigers will battle the Indians gives me even more reason to root for the home team. Colbert County happens to be the one-time bitter rival of my own alma mater, Russellville High School, who will play for its own state title on Friday night. It has been a while since I lived in northwest Alabama, but when I was in high school the RHS-Colbert County game was one of the biggest games in the area. At one point, both schools were in 4A and it was Colbert County that ended Russellville's hopes in the third round of the playoffs. RHS had defeated the Indians earlier that season.
It seems this year's Super Six is a "who's who" of prep football. The 12 teams in the finals hold 30 state titles and 55 appearances in the championship game between them. Each team has played for the title at least twice.
In 1A, Clay County holds four titles, including a three-peat from 1994-96. Their opponents are due a title as they finished as runner-ups in 1985 and 1990.
In 2A, Southern Choctaw won it all in 1998 and 1999 and was a runner-up in 1980. Lineville has a chance to avenge two title-shot losses to Southern Choctaw in 1998 and 1999. Lineville also lost the title game in 1996.
As far as total championships, the Indians hold an edge over the Tigers. Colbert County has six - 1972, 1979, 1985, 1993, 1994 and 1996 - while the Tigers have five - 1969, 1984, 1991, 1994 and 2000. T.R. Miller holds the edge in runner-up finishes, 5-4.
In 4A, defending champion UMS-Wright also won in 1987 and was a finalist in 1996. North Jackson (another team that defeated Russellville in the third round) has one title from 1993.
In 5A, the RHS Golden Tigers, the only undefeated school left in the playoffs, has won titles in 1967 and 1968 and was a runner-up in 1987 and 1992. The will battle Homewood, winners in 1974, 1995 and 2000. They have been a runner-up four times.
In 6A, Hoover, champions in 1977, 1982 and 2000 and a two-time runner-up, will battle Jeff Davis High School, winners in 1978 and 1996 and the runner-up in 1995.
It seems this year especially, the Super Six is a 'battle of champions.' While some may never have heard of the teams in this year's final, it is easy to see that these are schools that bring a lot of pride and tradition to Legion Field. These are teams that know what it takes to win and the sacrifices that must be made to earn a place in the history books. After all, they've all been there before.
Good luck to my new home team, T.R. Miller, my old home team, Russellville, and to all the other young men who have worked so hard to earn a place in Alabama's Super Six.