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Coach Riggs attends NFL Youth Summit

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
With practice underway and the start of the season less than three weeks away, now seems to be a strange time for T.R. Miller Tigers football coach Jamie Riggs to be taking a lengthy trip.
This particular excursion was hardly a vacation trip and was also one Riggs could not turn down.
The T.R. Miller skipper was one of only 50 high school coaches from across the nation who were selected to attend this weekend's NFL Youth Football Summit meeting in Canton (Oh.).
Only one high school coach from each state was selected to attend the meeting. Riggs was selected to represent Alabama.
"It's an honor to be selected for the summit. It wasn't something I was expecting," Riggs said.
Riggs actually applied for the summit last year, but heard nothing in return until this year.
"When I didn't hear anything back last year, I pretty much forgot about it," Riggs said.
Coaches are selected for the summit based on essays they submit. The essays contain information about their coaching careers, commitment to youth and coaching philosophies. A panel from each state then reviewed the essays and selected the winner.
Former NFL players who are now involved in coaching youth and high school football are among the guest speakers. Some of this year's guests include Mike Martin (Taft High School-Cincinnati, Ohio), Pete Metzelaars (Charlotte Christian High School, North Carolina), Sid Edwards (Redemptorist-Baton Rouge High School, Louisiana) and Paul Perenon (Bishop O'Dowd High School, Oakland, California).
The NFL Youth Football Summit meeting coincides with the annual NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony weekend. However, the summit concludes before Monday's Hall of Fame Game between Denver and Washington.
"That's O.K. I need to get back to Brewton so I can go to work," Riggs said.
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Riggs had mixed feelings about his team's preseason number one ranking in Class 3A by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.
"It's a sign of respect for our program, but right now it really doesn't mean anything. It's where you're ranked at the end of the season that matters, not at the start," Riggs said.
W.S. Neal coach Shane Smothers also had mixed feelings about his team's seventh place preseason
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ranking in Class 3A.
"It's good for the program to get recognition like that. I think it's a sign of respect. It shows people have taken notice of what we accomplished last season," Smothers said.
While Smothers was glad to see his program recognized, he was just as quick to say rankings at this time of the year should be taken with a grain of salt.
"Most of the time preseason rankings are based on a program's tradition and what they accomplished the year before. Last year McKenzie, where I had coached the year before, was ranked seventh at the start of the season in Class 1A, based largely on a 10-0 regular season the year before. They wound up going up 0-10," Smothers said. "The bottom line is where you're ranked at the end of the season, not at the start, that counts."
The schedules have been announced for W.S. Neal High School B team and W.S. Neal Middle School football games for this season.
In B team action, the Blue Eagles will host T.R. Miller on September 13 and Monroe County on September 27. W.S. Neal will then travel to T.R. Miller on October 4 and conclude the campaign on October 11 at Monroe County. All games are slated for 6:30 p.m.
In middle school play, W.S. Neal opens up play September 2 at home against Brewton. The Blue Eagles then travel to Monroe County on September 9. Its final two home games will be against Escambia County on September 16 and against Carver on September 23.
The Blue Eagles play their final four games on the road with trips to Flomaton on September 30, Jay on October 7, Andalusia on October 14 and Brewton on October 19.
All W.S. Neal Middle School games are slated for 6 p.m.
The T.R. Miller Quarterback Club will meet Monday at 5 p.m. at the TRM Field House.