Local schools gather for Cullman County Media Day

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Holly Pond cheerleader Taylor Simmons speaks at Cullman County Media Day Monday morning. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – All seven Cullman County schools were represented by cheerleaders, football players, volleyball players, band members, cross country runners and their coaches at Cullman County Media Day Monday morning and it was a great chance for the community to get to know some of the standouts and leaders in their local schools. Each school held a 30-minunte panel and took questions from local media about their upcoming fall semester and the activities or sports they’re preparing to compete in. Here are some quotes from each of today’s panels. Check out The Cullman Tribune’s page on Facebook for full videos of each school’s panel.

Holly Pond High School kicked things off and Head Football Coach Chris Moss gave an update on how the summer has gone for his team as he prepares to start his second season with the Broncos.

“We had a good a good spring. We ended up with about 35 kids and had a great opportunity to go over to Jacksonville State and play on a college field,” Moss said. “The guys really had a good experience over there. Going into the second year of course there are still question marks here and there but moving forward we feel really good about what’s been happening.”

Broncos senior cross country runner Christopher Putman is optimistic about the upcoming season for his team and wants to continue to build on the success Holly Pond has had over the past few years.

“We’ve made it to the state championship three years in a row at Holly Pond and we’re going for a fourth this year. We’re going to have our best season we’ve ever had, and we’re just trying to get better and want to be one of the best teams in the county and probably one of the best in the state.”

Fairview High School followed the Broncos onto the main stage and returning Aggies quarterback Parker Martin is excited to build off the success he and his team had last season and take the next step within their own region.

“We’re going to try to get Guntersville this year,” Martin smiled. “They got us last year and in the first half it was a good game but in the second half we just started laying down. I didn’t like that game and we made sure to have a little meeting after that one, but it’ll be better this year. We’ve got them at home so that’ll give us a little home field advantage, but it’ll be a good game.”

One of the things that Fairview percussion captain Ben Tankersley enjoys the most about participating in the band are the relationships he’s been able to build with his fellow Aggies musicians as well as other musicians across Cullman County.

“I’m glad to say that I have friends in every single band in Cullman County. We all know each other and see each other when we have our Cullman County exhibition every year so it’s always awesome to get to see all those friends and catch up with them every year.”

West Point High was up next, and Head Football Coach Don Farley was happy to report that summer workouts have been going well with good attendance and he and the Warriors are looking forward to a more “normal” season on the gridiron this fall.

“Being in a routine is what these kids are used to. I wouldn’t say our spring was necessarily routine, Farley said. “Fortunately, we didn’t have to deal with any COVID issues last season, but we did have some contact tracing hit us in the spring so that kind of limited our days but the days that we did have were solid. We’ve had a great summer with great attendance and our guys have been working hard.”

Senior volleyball player Ryleigh Jones and the rest of the Lady Warriors are coming off a phenomenal season in which they finished as Class 5A runner-up. Jones is proud of what she and her team were able to accomplish last year, and their goal is to get back to the state championship in 2021.

“Last year we had a great season. We ended up finishing as state runner-up and I was really proud of our team for doing that because no one at West Point has ever done that before,” Jones said. “Our goal for this season is to get back to state and we’re just going to try our best to work toward that goal and try to repeat it.”

After West Point’s panel ended, Vinemont High School was up next, and Head Volleyball Coach Lance Lay is looking forward to hitting the floor with his team this fall. The Lady Eagles are losing some experience from last year’s squad, but Lay is confident that the example they set will help lift the younger players still there.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of good kids and good players here that work really hard. We lost five seniors last year and they really set the tone for us as far as working hard and showing the younger girls what it takes to become a better player,” Lay said. “This year’s group is fairly young, but I think watching the girls last year they really saw what it takes to make themselves better and they’ve been working very hard this year.”

The Eagles have been steadily improving each year under Head Football Coach Stephen Robinson and as a result, Robinson has seen interest and excitement in the program grow as well.

“We had smaller numbers my first year and it’s grown every year. We’re going to dress between 40-45 kids against Hanceville in a few weeks and to go back to what Coach Lay said, we’ve got great kids,” Robinson said. “They’re willing to work, do what they’re asked to do and compete. That’s what we want, and our guys do everything we ask them to do and more sometimes. It’s been a great experience these last four years and I hope we’ve got many more to come.”

Hanceville High School was next up on the stage and new Bulldogs Head Football Coach Ryan Brewer got a chance to talk about how his tenure in Hanceville has been going so far.

“I’ve been here about a month now. The first time I got to meet the players was June 15 and we’ve been working hard this past month. I’m really enjoying our kids,” Brewer said. “We have a lot of great kids and they’re working tremendously hard. I’m still trying to learn names of the other coaches around and the people around our building so I’m meeting new people every day and I’m excited. This week we’re working out and I get to move into our new house in Hanceville this week, so I’m excited about that.”

Toward the end of the panel, each representative was asked what makes their school and Cullman County a special place to be and Hanceville Band Director Jesse James shared his experience living in the community after moving in just a few years ago.

“I’m not originally from Cullman, me and my wife moved here about four years ago and it’s just been such a great atmosphere in this county and in Hanceville especially. Hanceville is near and dear to our hearts that I think we spend more time in Hanceville than we do at our own house,” James laughed. “It’s just a great place from the administration to the staff to the community.

Cold Springs High School followed Hanceville and Eagles Cross Country Coach Casey Howell was the first to speak during the next panel and he took a moment to talk about his team’s mindset going into this season and coming off of a state title in 2020.

“For the past few years something we’ve talked about is that one of the hardest things to do in sports is repeat,” Howell said. “We know we’ve got to work hard and try to forget about what we’ve done in the past because this is a completely new team and right now, we’re just focusing on getting base milage in, building that team chemistry and setting expectations for the year. We took a couple weeks off after track season to refresh and we’re back. Every year we talk about different themes and this year we talk about being great today. If we can be great every day that’ll carry on for us into the season.”

Senior Eagles football player Seth Williams is gearing up for his fall season as well and he’s optimistic that the mix of returning seniors and young playmakers on the team will help lead Cold Springs to another winning season.

“We’ve got a pretty good bit of seniors with experience coming back but we’ve also got some younger guys and we’ve seen some of them step up and make plays this summer in 7-on-7’s and stuff and we just want to keep helping them get better,” Williams said. I think we’ll be pretty good; I expect us to have winning season and I just hope we go out and play to the best of our abilities.”

Good Hope High School was the final team to fill the podium Monday and Raiders quarterback Tanner Malin is excited to kick off another football season. Good Hope has collected a lot of wins over the last three seasons and Malin is confident they’ll be able to add a few more this year.

“I think we’re going to keep the tradition going and keep on winning. The past three years are a statement to what we and the coaching staff have put into the program and everyone just buying in,” Malin said. “You always want to be the best in their respective county and that’s the way it is here too. Everyone competes and everyone’s friends with each other and that makes it that much better. There’s nothing better than playing with your buddies from a different school and then beating them the next week and rubbing it in their face.”

As the panel was winding down and reflecting on what they loved most about competing for the Raiders and in Cullman County, Good Hope cheerleader Allie Sartin touched on the amount of support the different schools within the community show to one another.

“You can always compete but after competing you can always just go talk to people and say hey after all the competitions and they’ll always support you in everything that you do. Like when we went to nationals and teams came to support us. That really means a lot.”

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