For those planning to attend the debut of the Dothan High Wolves football team Saturday morning during a spring scrimmage against perennial powerhouse Hoover, you might want to get in your seat early and not roam around much once the game kicks off.
“You’ll see a very exciting brand of football offensively,” Dothan coach Smitty Grider said. “We’re going to go as fast as the officials will let us at times, so you don’t want to go to the concession stand or you’ll miss something.”
Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. and tickets are $7 as the Wolves – a combination of Northview and Dothan football players – play their first game together in preparing for consolidation of the two programs next school year.
“It’s been good,” Grider said of practice and workout sessions. “The kids have been really receptive and they’ve been excited and glad to be out there. They’ve done a great job of learning our offense and defense. It’s totally new for all of them and they’re buying in.”
While still learning his players, Grider has been pleasantly surprised at what he’s seen thus far since the team began practice sessions on May 7. He said there are 120 players on the roster.
“It’s been a good culture change in that it’s new and it’s fresh,” Grider said. “Putting two (schools) together gives them a little more confidence, maybe – more excitement about what we could do. There are good pieces at both places, but when you put them together there are a lot of good pieces.
“We feel like we’ve got the tools here to be as good as anybody.”
Grider plans to showcase his team’s speed and athleticism on both sides of the football.
“Offensively, we’re a spread team – up-tempo,” Grider said. “ We like to go fast and get the ball to a lot of different people. We have a lot of athletes here that can play in space and make things happen.
“Defensively, it’s very multiple, and you have to be these days because there are so many different things to defend. We like to put athletes on defense that can run. There again, I think it’s a fun style of defense to play and we expect to be really good defensively.”
Grider knows putting together a program from scratch will be an ongoing process. What he wants to see from his team against Hoover is how they will react in competition.
“Obviously Hoover is one of the premier programs in the state, if not the premier program,” Grider said. “So we’re going to get a good measuring stick on where we need to be when we get to 7A. I want to see if our guys will compete at the highest level.
“It’s not about winning or losing the (spring) game, it’s about competing. I just hope our guys will go out there with the mindset that we can go on the field and play with anybody, and we’re going to find that out.”
Grider also said bringing in a team like Hoover for a spring game is meant to give the fans of Dothan a taste of what’s to come.
“I wanted to expose the city of Dothan to the kind of football programs that we’re going to be bringing in here to play and who we’re going to have to compete against,” Grider said.
“You know, going 6-4 or 7-3 and getting beat in the first round – that’s not what our vision is for the program. We want to be the standard for football in the state of Alabama. To do that, you’ve got to play good people, and that’s why we wanted to play Hoover.”
The varsity teams will play the first three quarters on Saturday and the junior varsity squads will play the fourth quarter.