From a state championship on the volleyball court to a bevy of football head coaching changes, 2019 was filled with some incredible seasons and the end of a long drought.
Here is a look at the top sports stories of the past year.
Jasper High School volleyball team repeats as 5A state champions
After winning the state volleyball title in 2018, head coach Bobby Daniels’ squad swept Faith Academy for their second-consecutive Class 5A title at Birmingham’s Crossplex on Halloween.
Jasper, which finished the season with a 63-9 record, was not only ranked No. 1 in Class 5A but also spent time as the top team in the state as well, regardless of classification, winning 133 games in the past two seasons. The Vikings haven’t lost to another Class 5A team during its two-year championship run.
Alex Oliver, the state tournament MVP, Temperance Chatman and McKinley Ferguson were named to the First-Team All-State Team, Jordan Gilbert and Kelsey Shelton to the Second-Team and Dayion Johnson was named as an honorable mention.
The team was honored for their accomplishments by the City of Jasper in December.
Viking football team gets ranked No. 1 for the first time in program history
While the Jasper volleyball team was dominating on the court, the Vikings football team was also reaching new heights in 2019.
Returning a solid core of players that went 11-2 in head coach Bryan Moore’s first year at the helm of the program, Jasper — then ranked third in Class 5A — opened the season with its first victory over arch rival Cullman since 2010.
Two weeks later, after recording a 66-0 rout of Dora to start region play, the Vikings were voted as the top team in Class 5A — the team’s first No. 1 ranking in school history.
The Vikings dominated on the field during region play, recording five shutouts and allowing just a total of 27 points.
Jasper had the top scoring offense in Class 5A at 40.3 points per game and the top scoring defense at 10.9 points a contest. In late September, Jasper recorded its cornerstone win of the season on the road against then-No. 2 ranked Central Clay County, 35-34 in overtime.
Carbon Hill ends drought behind head coach Chavis Williams
Carbon Hill’s 20-year playoff drought came to an end in 2019 with the Bulldogs pushing their way to the postseason behind first-year head coach Chavis Williams.
After serving as a defensive coordinator for several seasons, former Dora, Alabama Crimson Tide and Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Williams was elevated to the role of head coach for the 2019 season. Inheriting a defense stocked with proven leaders, Carbon Hill clinched its playoff spot on Oct. 24 with a 28-23 win over Holt coupled with Oakman’s 46-14 victory over Greene County.
Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl visits Jasper
Fresh off the program’s first Final Four appearance in the spring, Auburn head basketball coach Bruce Pearl made a visit to Jasper in July to speak at Musgrove Country Club for an alumni fund-raiser.
The Tigers, which hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2003, have made the tournament for the past two seasons under Pearl and won 56 games.
Pearl spoke on the journey to build the Tigers into one of college basketball’s premier programs since taking over in 2014, the upcoming season, as well as the passing of football play-by-play announcer Rod Bramblett and his wife Paula in a car accident.
Sumiton Christian’s Sides makes big plays for Alabama softball team
Former Sumiton Christian standout KB Sides moved into a starting role for the Alabama Crimson Tide softball team in 2019 and made an instant impact. Making a number of key defensive plays, one of which made the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10, Sides also showed her offensive prowess by batting .304 with 10 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 37 RBIs. She stole 22 bases on 24 attempts on the year. At the College World Series in Oklahoma, Sides earned a spot on ESPN’s post game interview set after her efforts in a 15-3 win over the Florida Gators, where she went 3 for 3 with two runs scored a double and an RBI. Alabama won the SEC regular season title in 2019, with Sides being named to the SEC All-Tournament Team.
Oakman softball team wins county, make state tournament in Montgomery
Oakman’s softball team caught fire at the right time in 2019.
Behind head coach Jordan Burson, the Wildcats swept their way to a Walker County Tournament championship and rode the momentum all the way to the State Softball Tournament in Montgomery.
Oakman, playing a host of opponents from larger classifications, was just 9-13 going into the county tournament. The Wildcats took down Dora, top seed Curry and Carbon Hill to claim the county crown. Oakman followed with an area tournament title and a first-place finish at the West Central Regional Tournament in Tuscaloosa, winning nine straight games before losing to 3A runner up Wicksburg at state. Oakman went 1-2 in Montgomery, finishing the season tied for fifth in Class 3A with an 18-15 record.
Sumiton Christian basketball makes run to regional tournament
The Sumiton Christian Eagles put together a late season run that resulted in the school making a trip to the Northwest Regional Tournament at Hanceville in February.
Sumiton Christian needed a last-second shot to beat Altamont 72-70 in the area tournament, keeping its season alive. After losing in the area championship game, the Eagles earned a 55-49 road win over Cold Springs to punch its ticket to the regional tournament. At Hanceville, Sumiton Christian battled No. 4 Tanner to the buzzer, falling 51-46. The Eagles finished 22-8.
Five new head football coaches in Walker County
The 2019 football season saw new coaches across the county.
Only Dora (Bart Lockhart) and Jasper (Bryan Moore) returned coaches from the 2018 season.
At Carbon Hill, Chavis Williams moved up from defensive coordinator to head coach. Oakman hired Ryan Hall to replace Mark Hastings. Cordova hired Justin Jones, Curry hired Jeff Foshee and Sumiton Christian hired longtime McAdory coach David Powell.
Williams, Hall and Jones led their teams to the playoffs. Williams guided the Bulldogs to the postseason for the first time in 20 years while Hall guided Oakman to the playoffs for the ninth straight season and Jones led the Blue Devils back to the postseason.
Jasper High wrestling attains state ranking
The Jasper Vikings wrestling team entered the 2019-20 season ranked as the No. 5 program in the Class 1-5A division, with several wrestlers ranked in their individual weight classes. Winning the program’s first tournament, the Austin Hamner Memorial in December — a first under head coach Trip Otis — Jasper closed 2019 ranked No. 2 by the Alabama Wrestling Coaches poll. Preston Reed and Brodie Vinson were ranked No. 1 in their individual weight classes, while Alex Glass, Maney Havis and Dashton Rush were also ranked.
Daily Mountain Eagle unveils PrepZone
This football season the Daily Mountain Eagle launched the DME PrepZone, using a combination of traditional print and social media video to bring high school football coverage to a new level. PrepZone coverage included an in-depth look at the game of the week, the Coach Moore Show featuring Jasper’s head coach Bryan Moore, a preview show during the week and a PrepZone recap show following Friday’s action. DMEPrepZone.com included pregame notes, schedules, region standings and game recaps updated every week.