Ansley with mayor Johnny Hammock
2018 - The Year in Sports
By Michael Butler
From pee wee players to high school seniors, Tallassee had its share of shining moments in 2018. One former player has gradually risen to the pinnacle of sports since his days in Tallassee.
Derrick Ansley was a dominant athlete in basketball and football, where he found success at the college level playing under Larry Blakeney at Troy University.
From player to now coach, Ansley is regarded as one of the best in the business. And, he has worked with some of the best in the business, from Nick Saban to John Gruden.
His hometown paid tribute to those successes with a special recognition at City Hall in January where Ansley was presented a "Key to the City."
Hard work is what helped Ansley, who is now with the Oakland Raiders staff, get to where he is today.
"I was a manager and would go up to the football field on a Saturday and wash the clothes for next week's practice," Tallassee city councilman Terrel Brown recalled. "The first person that was up there at the football field was Derrick Ansley. He was watching film all day long doing whatever he had to do to perfect his craft."
Ansley spoke about the outpouring of support from his hometown.
"It means a lot. I don't even know if I know anybody that's ever received a key to anything. It was a blast."
Who is the next Derrick Ansley? There are some candidates striving for big things who had impressive performances in 2018.
The Tallassee 6U all-stars won the Dixie Youth World Series.
"We were 24-0," coach Ron Taylor said. "We played one practice game, so we're counting it. We were 25-0 through the all-star season."
The girls had the celebratory parade with a police escort to welcoming fans on their return back to Tallassee.
"We had four returners from last year's team. We knew we had a good core," coach Adam Clayton said of the team that won state last year and finished third at the World Series. "You couldn't ask for a better group of ladies and parents that supported us. They were there at practices for two and three hours. They gave up their summer to do this and it paid off for them. It's something they'll always remember."
The Tallassee 15U Babe Ruth all-stars took the state title.
"Thanks for all the support we received from the entire community. The fans and parents a had a great impact on the way we played," manager Justin Ellis stated. "Give all the credit to the kids because they played like champions in the state tournament. They fought every play and had the mental toughness that it takes to be a champion."
The Talisi Wrestling Club also claimed another state title. There were 20 individual champions.
"It's the most we ever had," head coach Brent Tennyson said. "We never expected it. We started doing the numbers. It was jawdropping."
There were 56 wrestlers from the Tallassee team at the Alabama Youth Championships.
"The older boys, these schoolboy kids, they've been battling seventh and eighth graders," Tennyson added. "They took a beating during the season grabbing these kids that are a year older. They deserve everything they get. Every kid from top to bottom deserved everything. They all fought hard."
It had been more than a decade since the Tallassee boys basketball team had won an area tournament. That drought ended with the tourney title in Dadeville under first-year coach Keiven Mixson. The team won nine straight over the season's final stretch. The momentum carried over to the new season as the Tigers started a new streak that reached double digits at year's end and earned the purple and gold a spot in the Class 5A ASWA rankings.
Photo by Michelle Clayton
The Tallassee Youth Football League had one champion. The senior age group brought home the hardware. It was the swan song for head coach Mark Bell. After 17 plus years on the sidelines, Bell is hanging up his coaching hat.
"I'm going to become the ultimate fan. I'm going to sit up there and wear some of the cool garb, paint my face and have shakers. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the next few years."
The Year in News
The Year in Pictures