Throughout spring practice, the Dothan Wolves appeared set to have Jamal Lane as their starting quarterback when the newly consolidated program played its first game on Saturday, Aug. 24.
But now, the quarterback spot has become a two-way battle heading into preseason practice thanks to a recent transfer.
Dothan head coach Smitty Grider confirmed Friday during the annual Encore Sports Medicine Coaches Media Day sponsored by the Dothan Eagle that Northside Methodist’s starting quarterback of a year ago, Bauer Sharp, has transferred to Dothan for the 2019 season.
Grider said Lane, a starter most of last year at Northview, is ahead right now and that the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Sharp has some catching up to do. Lane, a 6-foot, 170-pounder, will be entering his senior season and Sharp will be a junior.
“ Jamal Lane is our quarterback right now,” Grider said. “Bauer Sharp has transferred in from Northside Methodist and he is pushing Jamal. It will be a good little battle during fall camp, but right now Jamal Lane is our starting quarterback.
“ Jamal is so much further along in the offense right now. Bauer’s skill set is such that he will be a college quarterback one day. He just has to have a crash course in what we are doing. He has only been with us for three weeks.”
Sharp dazzled at Northside Methodist, an AISA program, throwing for a school-record 1,510 yards and 16 touchdowns last season on 90-of-164 passes, though he was prone to interceptions too (14). Lane is considered more of a running threat, though he can pass the ball, while Sharp is more of a passer, but does have some running ability.
“ They are different style of players and each one brings a different aspect to the game,” Grider said. “We will have a little different package we will run out of with either one of them, but we feel we can be successful with either one of them.
“ With the addition of Bauer, it has made us feel really good about the position. We don’t have a concern if something happens to one or the other. We feel like we have two that can win games.”
Grider indicated that both could also play.
“ I could see us playing two quarterbacks,” Grider said. “It will be a tough decision to settle on which one is the best to be honest with you.”
With Sharp’s arrival, the Wolves have moved Kameron Dawsey, a junior who started at QB last year at Dothan High, over to defensive cornerback.
The Wolves, a consolidation of Northview and Dothan high schools, open the season four weeks from Saturday against 2018 Class 6A state semifinalist Clay-Chalkville. The game is at Thompson High School at 3 p.m.
Counting on experience: A year ago, the Providence Christian Eagles earned a school-record 12 wins against two losses and reached the Class 3A state semifinals, falling just a point short of reaching the state finals.
Though PCS lost 20 seniors from last year, plenty of experience returns this year, aided by 14 seniors, including quarterback Collins McClintock and 3A first-team all-state running back Wise Gordon.
Head coach Kenny Keith feels the experience from last year can only help the Eagles this year.
“ Last year was a special year,” Keith said Friday at the Coaches Day event at the Highland Oaks golf course. “Hopefully that motivates our guy. I think it has. It should. A lot of them have been there, played and done that.
“ It was fun to do. The kids believe (because of it). That is a good thing. A lot of them played on it. They know what it takes to be there.”
Send a postcard: Note to Troy basketball coach Chanda Rigby: Let’s synch up the schedules.
While Rigby takes her Lady Trojans to France and Spain next week for a pair of exhibition games – the first Aug. 2 in Madrid and the second Aug. 5 in Barcelona – next week, Eufaula head coach Ed Rigby, her husband, will be opening practice with his Tigers.
It’s one thing to miss the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Las Ventas Bullfighting Arena and Museum in Madrid and Barcelona, the host city of the 1992 Summer Olympics, Ed Rigby said. Problem is, this keeps happening.
“ This is the third time that she’s gone on a European trip with basketball when we start football,” the Eufaula coach said, tongue firmly planted in his cheek. “It’s really disappointing that I don’t get to go to any of this stuff. But my boys have reaped the rewards. Randon’s going this year and went last time, too. Ramsey and I were both in football at the time. Maybe there’ll be a trip where, one day, maybe I can go.”
Going in blind: In most coaching changes, the new head coach usually has an idea of the landscape of teams because of previous ties to the area.
New Enterprise head coach Rick Darlington doesn’t have that luxury. The veteran from the state of Florida will experience Alabama football for the first time.
“ I don’t really know what other people have,” Darlington said Friday. “I have never gone against these teams in the region and the teams who on are our schedule. In Florida, we played a lot of the best teams in the state, but I don’t know what these teams are like here.
“ We played our spring game against Park Crossing and I don’t know if Park Crossing is good or not good. Some of my coaches said they probably will be a two or three round playoff team in Class 6A. Ok, I can see that. If you would have told me that Park Crossing is the worst team in the state (going in), there is no scheme of reference for me.
“ Where I was before, I knew this team is not going to be good or they are not well coached or this team is always going to be well coached. Here I am totally blind.”
Darlington will have some familiarity with the Wildcats’ opening opponent, North Miami Beach, which comes to Wildcat Stadium for an Aug. 23 game. His team at Apopka played the Miami team in 2011-12, but the head coach remains the same.
Some familiarity: While Darlington has been getting familiar with members of his new team since his hire in January, he knows one player really well – his son, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior quarterback/safety Jackson Darlington, who started at QB at Apopka the last three years.
“ He is really important,” Darlington said. “He not only knows my system inside and out, he knows what I want as a leader and a team captain. He has been around me and my teams his whole life so he knows what it needs to look like in the locker room. Having him there is such a huge deal. This whole thing would have a different feel to it if he wasn’t here with me.
“ We wouldn’t be able to do a fourth of things on offense without him. It’s not as much because of his physical abilities, but his football knowledge. He can line everybody up.”
Jackson Darlington’s older brother, Ty, is currently an offensive lineman at Oklahoma. Another older brother, Zack, played at Nebraska.
Starting date: The official preseason practices are fast approaching for teams in the Dothan Eagle coverage area.
Teams in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) can hold official first practices on Monday, Aug. 5, while Alabama Independent Schools Association (AISA) teams open next Thursday, Aug. 1.
The coverage area’s two Georgia teams in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) – Early County and Seminole County -- can hold their opening practices on Monday with the first practice in pads set for Thursday.
All three associations have opening games set for Thursday, Aug. 22 and Friday, Aug. 23.