Local schools gearing up for Friday nights on the gridiron

Vinemont's football team at this year's Cullman County Schools Media Day including senior Travis Hopper. Hopper will miss this season after suffering a head injury in July. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County Schools’ second annual Media Day is in the books and all seven county schools are gearing up for the start of a new school year and a new season on the gridiron. Football and cheer coaches along with band directors made their way to the Cullman County Schools Central Office for Media Day, accompanied by players, cheerleaders and band members.

The Good Hope Raiders kicked things off at 9 a.m. and Head Football Coach Alan Scott opened up the panel by thanking everyone who makes the event possible as well as the community for the support they show to the sport every year.

“Thank you so much to everyone that is involved in making this happen. I think it’s a great event, it’s our second year to be able to do this and it really gives our kids some exposure whether it’s for football, cheer or band,” Scott said. “Everybody puts in a lot of work and effort to make the football season great. In my opinion, it’s a great atmosphere and a great climate when the community comes together and supports one another and does wonderful things so thank you again for the opportunity.”

After hearing from the Raider coaches, players, cheerleaders and band members, Good Hope left the stage to make way for the West Point Warriors. After an opening remark from Head Football Coach Don Farley, Warriors Band Director Bobby Patrick took a moment to talk about the band’s upcoming season and their preparation in the summer.

“This is my second year back and I’m enjoying it. We’ve had a fantastic, although it seemed long, summer. We actually did about four weeks of band camp total with the different sections,” Patrick said. “The show this year is called “Rockstar”, and it has everything from Ozzy Osbourne to Aerosmith to Queen and I forgot who else. I think there’s 12-15 selections in it so it’s a lot of fun. The students have done a great job, a great job of having fun with the program.”

The Fairview Aggies were up next after West Point concluded it’s time at the podium. After hearing from several members of the panel, Head Football Coach George Redding started to close things by talking about his team’s passion. Coaching has always been about more than football for Redding, and he enjoys taking opportunities to talk about things bigger than the game.

“Everything we build on is just trying to play at a very high level and compete. Our first thing is about character and then we want to compete. Competing, to me, is about so much more than just showing up on a Friday night,” Redding said. “We’ve asked our young men to kind of suffer for the things you say you’re passionate about and trust me, we’re talking about more than football when we talk about that.”

After the Aggies closed their panel at Media Day, a crowd of Vinemont Eagles followed them up to the podium. Head Football Coach Stephen Robinson brought a handful of players with him and they were joined by several cheerleaders and band members along with their coach and director. However, the most notable guest for the Eagles was senior football player Travis Hopper. Hopper suffered a head injury in July and will miss this upcoming football season at Vinemont, but he and Robinson are both looking forward to his new role with the team.

“Obviously one of the biggest losses ever is Travis. Because of his injury, he’s not going to be able to play this year so that’s a huge loss to our team but I know Travis will find a spot out there and get on to people and I told him the other day that we just gained a new coach,” Robinson said. “That’s how it feels so he’s going to have his role and I’m sure he’ll do a great job at that.”

“We’ve been working really hard all summer to get ready for this point and it’s always been a dream for us since we were younger to be senior leaders out on the field and seeing what’s going to happen,” Hopper said. “I think everything happens for a reason and even though this happened, I still want to be part of the team and help as much as I can. I think we’re going to do great things.”

The Hanceville Bulldogs followed Vinemont up to the front of the boardroom after the Eagles’ panel concluded and this year’s drum major for the Hanceville High School Band, Xander Williamsen, is ready for things to kick off this fall. Williamsen has a passion for his position as drum major and encourages everyone to approach things in their life the same way.

“We’re really excited to start our competition season and our football season. We have a lot of new kids that have a fire in them and want to learn and want to progress. I believe in all groups; we have young people that have a passion in them and they’re going to put out all their effort. Sure, we’re going to make rookie mistakes sometimes, but you learn from those mistakes. You don’t let it upset you, you push forward, and you let that become your strength.”

After hearing from representatives from the football team and cheerleaders, the Bulldogs wrapped up their panel and made way for the Holly Pond Broncos. The football team and cheerleaders were not in attendance, but Band Director Evan Curtis and Drum Major August Floyd were there to take the stage for the Broncos. Floyd is embracing a new role this year as the leader of the band, and she has really enjoyed working with her fellow band members.

“Being in a leadership position, you don’t have to worry about just yourself. You’re worrying about all the people around you. So, what I’ve been doing is just making friends with everybody and it’s really just a whole family,” Floyd said. “You can’t really be bossy or anything and everyone works together so being in this leadership position and having others working with you has made my job a whole lot easier.”

The final school on the docket for Tuesday’s Media Day was Cold Springs High School. One of the captains of this year’s cheer squad at Cold Springs, Taylor Teems, is getting ready for her senior year and while she’s a little sad her high school career is coming to an end in May, she’s just excited to see what her final year has in store.

“I’m sad to say that this is my last year so it’s pretty emotional, but I know that the football team is going to do their very best, as they always do, and our band is always great and always liven up the mood. You’re never disappointed by our band,” Teems said. “The cheerleaders have been working very, very hard all summer. We went to cheer camp and learned a whole lot of stuff honestly. Everyone has improved a lot and we’ve tried very hard to be better for the competition coming up. We’re all very excited for that and we’re going to do our very best. I just know it’s going to be a great year, a great season and it’ll be a good note to end on.”

To watch full videos of each panel, check out The Cullman Tribune’s Facebook page.

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Group photos by Heather Mann for The Cullman Tribune.