Edgewood pulls out of AISA Kickoff Classic
The Southeastern Commission of Independent Schools has adjusted the lineup to its inaugural Kickoff Classic as Alabama’s Edgewood Academy and Mississippi’s Jackson Prep have elected to withdraw from the contest.
Bessemer Academy and Lamar School will join the other six high school programs from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina for games in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl on Aug. 12-13, 2016.
The event, organized by the Southeastern Commission of Independent Schools, will pit two teams from the Alabama Independent School Association, the Georgia Independent School Association, the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools and the South Carolina Independent School Association.
“We approached the city of Montgomery about the possibility of hosting this event and it’s taken off from there,” said AISA athletic director Roddie Beck. “In preparation for the event, we’ve had a number of conference calls with the other three associations. They are all excited about the direction of the event, and we’re excited about serving as the host association.”
Organizers had to make an adjustment after the unexpected resignation of former Edgewood Academy football coach Bobby Carr, which is already burdened with the move from Class AA to AAA this fall.
“In order to ensure the Alabama Independent School Association is represented in the best way possible, Edgewood Academy feels the need to withdraw itself from the game versus Jackson Prep on Aug. 12,” said Edgewood headmaster Clint Welch. “With the resignation of longtime coach Bobby Carr and newly hired coach Eric Folmar, we feel it is in the best interest for all parties to not participate in this game. This will give our new coach time to hire and have his staff in place in hopes of having our boys ready for the first game on Aug. 26.”
Beck moved quickly to replace Edgewood with Bessemer Academy, which won the Class AAA title last season in a 13-0 season that saw them outscore opponents 558-144.
“We regret that Edgewood can’t play, but we understand their decision,” Beck said. “At the same time, we are delighted to have Bessemer participate. They had shown interest from the very beginning, and we are excited about their addition to the lineup.”
Bessemer will play Lamar School on Saturday, Aug. 13, at 7:30 p.m., less than a month after facing them in seven-on-seven workouts at Mississippi State University.
“We’re extremely excited and honored to represent our association and our state,” Bessemer coach Josh Wright said. “I think it’s something great the associations have put together and I think it’s great we get to have it in Montgomery in such a historical place as Cramton Bowl.
“And we get to play a great opponent with a Hall of Fame coach (Mac Barnes). They have a great program, and it should be a great game. We played them in seven-on-seven already this year and they beat us. They have a great team, always have. They do a phenomenal job.”
Edgewood’s withdrawal coincided with some second thoughts from Jackson Prep, which already had a 12-game schedule before adding the Kickoff Classic matchup.
“We are sorry things didn’t work out for us to participate this year, but we are hopeful about the possibility to participate in this great event in the future,” said Jackson Prep athletic director Will Crosby.
Lamar School (8-4 in 2015) reached the semifinals of the 2015 Class AAAA Division II playoffs before losing to eventual state champion Washington School. The Raiders also lost to Kickoff Classic participant Madison-Ridgeland and to Jackson Prep in 2015. The Meridian, Miss., school has won three state football titles in the past 10 years, including the 2013 AAA Division II championship.
Davis Harrison, who quarterbacked the Raiders to the state title as a freshman in 2013, returns for his senior season after passing for 6,678 yards and 66 touchdowns over the past three years.
The revised schedule will pit Brookwood School of Thomasville, Ga., and Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School of Darlington, S.C., in the event’s first matchup on Friday, Aug. 12 at 5 p.m. At 7:30, Madison-Ridgeland Academy of Madison, Miss., will face Valwood School of Hahira, Ga.
On Saturday, Aug. 13, the first game at 5 p.m. will pit Escambia Academy of Atmore against First Baptist School of Charleston, S.C. At 7:30, Bessemer Academy will play Lamar School.
Each of the four state organizations devised their own method of selecting teams for the inaugural matchup. The South Carolina Independent School Association, for example, asked for volunteers and chose the first two schools to respond. The Alabama Independent School Association chose the participants based on the potential matchups, which meant Bessemer Academy was always under strong consideration.
In addition to Lamar, Mississippi Association of Independent Schools officials chose Madison-Ridgeland, 2015 runners-up in AAAA Division I and 10-3 after losing to Mississippi High School Activities Association-member St. Martin and to Jackson Prep twice.
Georgia will send two teams from the same region: Class AAA state champion Valwood School, which went 13-1 last season, and Brookwood School, which lost in the second round of the AAA playoffs and finished 10-3.
South Carolina’s participants are First Baptist School of Charleston, which compiled a 6-5 record last season after losing in the first round of the 2A playoffs, and Trinity Byrnes Collegiate School, which was 7-4 last season after losing in the first round of the 1A playoffs but will compete in 2A this fall.
The Kickoff Classic will be the first football event in the state of Alabama in 2016.