Neal may open football campaign with Elmore
The search for a week one opponent for the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles football team may soon be over.
W.S. Neal coach/athletic director Shane Smothers said he will be sending a contract to Stanhope Elmore. If Stanhope Elmore agrees to the contest, the game will be at W.S. Neal on August 27.
"I think they'll agree to it, but until you get a signed contract back it's not official," Smothers said.
The addition of Stanhope Elmore would complete a rigorous 2004 slate for the Blue Eagles. The Mustangs went 9-3 in 2003 and won Class 5A Region 3 with a 7-0 record. Stanhope Elmore beat Greenville 34-23 in the opening round of the playoffs prior to a 20-7 second round loss to B.C. Rain.
Earlier the Blue Eagles added non-region games against defending Class 4A state champ Trinity Presbyterian (home) and Class 2A power Southern Choctaw (away).
If Stanhope Elmore is added to the schedule, it would give the Blue Eagles a slate that includes seven teams (Stanhope Elmore, Southern Choctaw, Trinity Presbyterian, T.R. Miller, Pike County, Straughn, Slocomb) that competed in the 2003 playoffs. Trinity Presbyterian (4A) and Pike County (3A) won state titles and T.R. Miller was a 3A semifinalist.
"It's a killer schedule, but I think our players are excited about getting to compete against these teams," Smothers said.
If Stanhope Elmore declines the contract, Smothers said another Class 5A power, Eufaula, is a possible option. Eufaula went 11-1 last season and won Region 2 with a 7-0 record. Eufuala beat Benjamin Russell in the opening round of the playoffs before it was upset by Briarwood in the second round.
W.S. Neal had to redo its entire non-region schedule after 2003 foes Hillcrest, Escambia County and Geneva declined to extend their series.
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The equipment has been transferred to the new weightroom at W.S. Neal High School. Athletes began working out in their new location last week.
"It's great. We've got a lot more room and the air conditioning makes it a lot more pleasant for the athletes to work out. We've still got a lot of improvements we want to do, but at least we've made the move now," Smothers said.
The new W.S. Neal weightroom is the former W.S. Neal cafeteria.
"We owe a big thank you to Escambia County Schools superintendent Melvin Powell and the board of education. They contributed around $7,000 to a new floor surface," Smothers said.
Spots still remain in the upcoming W.S. Neal sports camps.
New Blue Eagles basketball coach David McCollum will hold a camp for grade school players Monday and Tuesday at the W.S. Neal Middle School Gym.
Sessions for incoming first through fourth graders will be held from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sessions for incoming fifth through eighth graders will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The cost is $20 per camper. Campers are asked to arrive for the Monday session at 8 a.m. (morning session) and at 1 p.m. (afternoon session).
W.S. Neal's All-Star Sports Camp will be held July 26-29 for athletes in grades 1-8.
That clinic is a combined football and baseball camp, which will be directed by Smothers and Blue Eagles
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baseball coach Coy Campbell.
Registered and non-registered athletes should report to the W.S. Neal Gym from 8:00-8:45 a.m.
Football practice will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. After a lunch session, baseball practice will be held from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Players will be dismissed at 2:15 p.m. (grades 1-4 at the gym and 5-8 at the baseball field).
The same camp schedule will be used on the third day.
On days two and four, players should report to the baseball field at 8:45 a.m. Practice will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. After lunch, football practice will be held from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Players will be dismissed at 2:15 p.m. (grades 1-4 at the gym and 5-8 at the baseball field).
The fee is $60. Add $30 per camper for families with more than one camper. Registration can be sent to Smothers at 208 Halsey Street, Brewton 36426. For more information, contact Smothers at 809-3871 or 867-7744.
One of my surecent ggestions for "improvements" in area sports programs is turning into a reality for next school year.
W.S. Neal Middle School girls are getting the opportunity to play volleyball in the W.S. Neal High School's program.
Those players will get an opportunity to play in W.S. Neal's eight-game junior varsity schedule.
"We've had about a dozen girls from the middle school who have been working out with us this summer," W.S. Neal coach Kraig Rittenhouse said.
W.S. Neal Middle School principal Gayle Fountain said she hopes the opportunity for middle school girls to play will help the high school program.
"Our girls have been working out with Coach Rittenhouse about three days a week this summer. It will take time for them to learn, but hopefully it will help the high school program in the near future," Fountain said.