Arthur Woods loses a shoe but scores in the Class 2A Championship at the Super 7 in Tuscaloosa
Photo by Suzannah Solomon Wilson
Rebels to play in "Classic"
Four storied high schools, Class 7A Vestavia Hills (9-3) vs. Class 7A Carver-Montgomery (7-4) and Class 2A Reeltown (13-1) vs. Class 3A T.R. Miller (8-4), will be battling in the two games to be showcased at the 2024 AHSAA Kickoff Classic hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA).
Reeltown, the 2023 Class 2A state runner-up, and Class 3A T.R. Miller will officially open the 2024 high school football season in the 19th annual Kickoff Classic on Thursday night, August 22 at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl at 7 p.m. Vestavia Hills and Carver-Montgomery will play on 7 p.m., on Friday night, August 23 in the second game of the annual classic. Both games will be at 7 p.m. and will be televised over the AHSAA TV Network and live streamed over the NFHS Network. AHSAA TV partner WOTM TV of Sylacauga will produce the game for the NFHS Network / AHSAA TV Network. The AHSAA Radio Network will also broadcast both contests over its statewide radio network.
“We are thrilled to have these two matchups involving four great programs steeped in tradition,” said Brandon Dean, Director of the AHSADCA, who announced the pairings Tuesday. “We appreciate the administration and coaches of each school for allowing us to highlight their programs here in Montgomery. As always, we thank Mayor Steven Reed and the City of Montgomery for their continued support of this event.”
The “small-school” match-up features two powerful programs that have won 49 region or area titles between them – and two head coaches who were destined almost from the crib to coach high school football. Reeltown won its first 13 games last season before falling to Fyffe in the Class 2A state finals. Head coach Matt Johnson grew up in Reeltown and played for Hall-of-Fame Coach Jackie O’Neal. He returned to Reeltown after college and became an assistant on O’Neal’s staff. When he retired after the 2015 season, Johnson moved up to head coach and has compiled a 68-28 record over the last eight seasons with two trips to the state finals (2019 and 2023). Johnson played on Reeltown’s 2001 state championship team.
O’Neal replaced Hall-of-Fame coach Duane Webster in 1988. Like Johnson, O’Neal played for Webster and then returned to coach with him until his retirement. O’Neal had a 241-110 career head-coaching record at Reeltown and Webster posted 208 of his 218 coaching wins with the Rebels and closed his career with a 218-93-9 slate.
Hubbert also spent his high school career playing for a Hall-of-Fame coach – his dad Jim Hubbert – at Maplesville. Brent coached with his dad before taking the head-coaching job at nearby Jemison in Chilton County. Jim Hubbert (171-51) stepped down three years later after 11 seasons, 113 victories and one state title. Brent (229-58) stepped in three years later after the Red Devils fell on hard times and finished 1-8. Over the next 15 seasons, however, Maplesville enjoyed its winningest stretch ever going 166-26 with unbeaten regular seasons in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. The Red Devils finished state runner-up in 2013, then won three straight Class 1A state titles in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He moved to T.R. Miller in 2019 and has compiled a 46-17 record including last season’s 8-4 mark over the last five seasons.
T.R. Miller’s program is not just one of the state’s top small-school programs, it is currently tied with Oneonta with the most football wins (726) in AHSAA history. The Tigers have reached the state playoffs in Class 3A and Class 4A over Hubbert’s five seasons and upped their state playoff record to 95-37 in 43 appearances – second only to Hoover’s 107 state playoff wins.
While Reeltown is graduating its standout senior running back Arthur Woods, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards each of the last two seasons, the Rebels are returning four talented players who earned first-team, second-team, or honorable mention All-State in 2023. That quartet, offensive lineman Bowman Brumbeloe, wide receiver/running back Tae Martin, linebacker Finn Henderson, and punter Demetrius Brown, forms a strong nucleus as leaders for the coming season. T.R. Miller will be returning All-State lineman J.R. Jernigan.