PREP FOOTBALL: Tigers preparing for special year on the gridiron

Meek High School

ARLEY, Ala. – High school football season has returned in Alabama and that means its nearly time for the Meek Tigers to take the field once again. Houston Powell is entering his second season as the Tigers’ Head Coach and after helping lead the team to a big win over Lynn last season, he’s excited to continue building on that success this fall and hopefully find a few more wins along the way. In 2020, teams were very limited in what they could do in the preseason to begin preparing for the fall but this year, Powell was excited for the chance to go through a complete summer program with this year’s Tigers team.

“We were definitely really excited this year to be able to have spring training which is something we couldn’t do during the Covid season so that was big for us, especially with the style of offense and defense that we run. Our summer program was very limited last summer too so we were really excited to hit the ground running and not be limited on what we could do with our kids,” Powell said. “We went to a couple of team camps and competed against some bigger schools which I really wanted to do. Our kids surprised some people whose opinions I trust, and a lot of our guys have gotten a lot stronger. We started our offseason weight program the month after our last game, and we’ve gotten our numbers up closer to where we want them to be. So, our summer has been great. We’ve been able to figure out some new ways to make our program better and one of the benefits we have for a 1A program is as of right now if we can stay healthy, we’ve only got three guys playing both ways. For us that’s huge and hopefully it stays that way. We feel like late in games, late in the season not having so many guys playing both ways will be a huge benefit for us.”

Compared to his first season at Meek, Powell says it has been easier this time around to keep his guys engaged and excited about the upcoming season without having to worry about games being cancelled.

“It’s definitely been a lot easier from a coaching standpoint to get the players really engaged and get them motivated. Being able to look at our schedule and actually watch film on some of our opponents because we know we’re going to play this season has been so much better,” Powell said. “We’ve been able to run our offseason program the way that we should and not have to always second guess ourselves. It’s been less stressful as far as wondering what’s going to happen and it’s been more stressful because there’s so much more to do to prepare and to get ready but it’s a good stress to have.”

Powell is excited about the group of guys he has returning to play in the backfield this fall. There will be several familiar faces carrying and catching the ball this season so right now he and his staff are focusing on finding the right guys to fill in positions on the offensive front.

“I think our backfield is something we’re not really concerned about. We’ve got some veteran guys in the back, our quarterback is coming back, both of our fullbacks and both of our tailbacks are coming back, and we’ve got our wing and our receivers back, so we feel confident about all of our skill positions,” Powell said. “Our offensive line is honestly all players that played last year for us. Now we’ve moved some guys on the offensive line that we felt like after watching some film from last year it would benefit them and us at the same time. So, it’s not that we’re concerned about them having experience because they played all 10 games last year, we’re just ready to see them in that first game against an opponent to see how those fits are going to work. We feel good about it but there’s always some concern in the back of your mind when you move guys around on the offensive line.”

Powell and his staff are still moving some pieces into place on the offensive front to support a group of experienced skill players, but they feel great about what they have coming together on the defensive side of the ball.

“We truly believe that our defense is going to be special this year. Our defense has players in certain places that really fit what we do and the type of our opponents we’re going to be facing. We feel like our defense is really going to be able to hold their own but with all that being said, if everybody stays healthy, we like our chances to have the success we think we can have this year but just like at any 1A program if a few guys get hurt, it really affects everything you’re trying to do. So, if we can stay healthy, I feel good about both sides of the ball.”

Preparing for a new season in a place that’s still relatively new is a challenge for any coaching staff but Powell believes that hardest part may be over. He’s seen the culture and attitude begin to shift within the football program and knows that his team now believes in how good they can be.

“When I took over the job, I knew it was going to be difficult because they hadn’t had a lot of success and the mentality of our kids last year was when a team got up on us or a team was better than we were, our mental game was not where we needed to be. We didn’t have spring and had a very limited summer, so it took us the majority of the season to kind of get the culture we wanted ingrained,” Powell said. “Finally, we play the Lynn game, and we win it, and the rest of our season happens to be the toughest part of our schedule, but we competed well against those opponents. So, the mental game has definitely changed, our confidence has changed, we’ve had some players step up and do some things that surprised us and boosted our confidence. Our kids love our program, our kids care about Meek Football, and they want to win. They want to change the program and we feel like this year can be something special. Our kids have shown up with a dedicated mentality and have really bought in. We truly believe that this year we’re going to put a Meek Football team on the field that our community and our school can be proud of.”

2021 Meek Football Schedule

Aug. 20: Cold Springs

Aug. 27: @ Winston County

Sept. 3: Brilliant*

Sept. 10: @ South Lamar*

Sept. 17: @ Hubbertville*

Oct. 1: Marion County*

Oct. 8: @ Lynn*

Oct. 15: @ Pickens County*

Oct. 22: Berry Fayette*

Oct. 29: Sumiton Christian

2021 Meek Football Roster

#1 Matthew Clark

#2 Justin Freeman

#3 Brendan Miller

#4 David Tidwell

#6 Ory Frith

#7 Hayden Smith

#8 Bradigan Farmer

#9 Ethan Grace

#10 Jack Cotton

#11 Jarrett Benson

#12 Trint Ory

#15 Rylee Thompson

#20 Dawson Beasley

#23 Blake Miller

#24 Cam Deaver

#25 Jacob Smith

#27 Aiden Vines

#28 Carson Davenport

#33 Braxton Dickerson

#51 Nick Miller

#52 Lucas Rector

#54 Caleb Mansco

#55 Tristian Shanklin

#61 Aiden Benson

#64 Xavier Arias

#65 Ethan Pounds

#72 Jeremiah Baker

#73 Tyler Cooper

#75 Ethan Wright

#76 Judson Bradley

#80 Brayden Webster

2021 Meek Varsity Cheerleaders

Jolie Bradley, AnnaBelle Collins, Kaylee Owens, Isabella D’Alessandro, Kaylee Elliott, Anna Grace Cochran, McKinli Sandlin, Kayla Clark, Christina Tyree, Evan Hutchins, Belle Cleghorn, Makenzie Phillips, Jacie O’Quinn, Avery Archer, Jenna Brown, Makayla Phillips, Brooklyn Deaver, Amori Miles.

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