MONTGOMERY, Ala. (From AHSAA) – The AHSAA Champions Challenge Football Classic will have a new name, “The AHSAA Kickoff Classic,” when it kicks off the 2019 prep football season at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl August 22-23, and it also has two exciting games set for 2019.
Montgomery rivals Jeff Davis and Carver-Montgomery will play on Thursday night, August 22, in the first game of the 14th annual football extravaganza. Defending Class 7A state football champion Central-Phenix City and perennial powerhouse Hoover will tangle in Friday’s game on August 23. Both games kick off at 7 p.m., and will be live-streamed over the NFHS Network.
”We are excited about new name of this important event and equally excited about the two games we have set,” said Alabama High School Athletic Directs & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) Director Jamie Lee. “The Champions Challenge has been the “official” start of the AHSAA football season for more the last 13 years. The new name for the event, the AHSAA Kickoff Classic, aptly describes the importance of these games.”
Lee said while the name has been changed from the Champions Challenge, the event will continue to be an ideal way to start prep football season.
“The Kickoff Classic will showcase one of the state’s top rivalries, Jeff Davis versus Carver-Montgomery, on Thursday,” he said. “And on Friday night, two of our premiere 7A programs will battle when Hoover and Central-Phenix City play. The field will be full of future college talent both nights and will be a great way to kick off our season. We are thankful to all of these programs for committing to this year’s AHSAA Kickoff Classic, and we look forward to watching all of our teams in the AHSAA compete during the season.”
Central (14-0) and Hoover (9-4) will be meeting for the second time in the season-opening classic. The Bucs won 23-7 in the 2016 Classic on the way to a 12-2 season and its 11th state title later that season. The Bucs also won the state crown in 2017.
The Red Devils of Coach Jamey DuBose are coming off a 14-0 season, including a 52-7 win over 2018 Champions Challenge winner Thompson in the Class 7A Super 7 state championship game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Thompson beat Hoover in the 7A semifinals in 2018.
Central is making its second appearance in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic. Hoover is 3-0 in three previous Classic appearances. DuBose (125-38) and Hoover Coach Josh Niblett (203-52) have squared off in the state finals three times when DuBose was head coach at Prattville. His Lions won in 2008 and 2011 and Niblett’s Bucs in 2009. The two faced each other again in the 2013 Class 6A quarterfinals with Hoover edging DuBose’s Florence squad 22-21. Central and Hoover have played twice (1978 and 1996) with the Bucs winning both times.
Carver (8-3) and Jeff Davis (3-7) are meeting for the 51st time in the Montgomery rivalry. Coach James Thompson (39-14), now in his second year as head coach, made great strides with Carver (8-3) in 2018. He came to the Wolverines from Pickens County where he compiled a 31-11 record and reached the 1A stat finals two year in a row. The Wolverines reached the Class 6A state playoffs last season with a rugged battle for the Region 2 title evolving between arch-rivals Carver, Sidney Lanier and Park Crossing.
Jeff Davis, coached by Lee Carter, started last season with four straight setbacks but went 3-3 the rest of the year. That momentum has the Vols excited about 2019. Carter is 26-37 at Jeff Davis in six seasons with three state playoff appearances. Jeff Davis holds a 36-14 edge in its series with Carver, including winning three of the last four years. Thompson’s tenure with the Wolverines began last year with a season-opening 19-3 win over the Vols to snap a three-game DJ winning streak.
A total of 52 different schools have participated in the AHSAA’s season-opening classic since its inception in 2006 with teams from each of the eight districts and seven classifications taking part over the years. Carver is making its fourth appearance while Jeff Davis is making its AHSAA Kickoff Classic debut.
The games will be live-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast by the AHSAA Radio Network.