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Back in Business: West Alabama football teams get back to work

The party is over and its time to get down to business as all area AISA and AHSAA football teams began Thursday practices in full pads.

The five-day waiting period is over, and on Thursday many teams throughout West Alabama strapped on the pads to move things to full contact.

With only three weeks till their season opener on August 26, against cross-town rival Marengo Academy, West Alabama Prep is running at full speed with new head coach Bob Taylor at the helm. WAP finished the 2003 season with a 4-7 record, with a first round playoff appearance.

Taylor returns 11 starters with six newcomers in former Warrior Academy players Brock Halper, John Colson, Robert Pearson and Wesley White. Also new the WAP squad this year will be Wesley Ballard (Greensboro High) and Charlie Lee (Demopolis High).

Though WAP has consistently found themselves on the losing end of their season opener with Marengo, Taylor expects this year’s team to end Marengo’s winning streak. Marengo enters the ’04 season after losing eight lettermen, including running back Patrick Cannon.

Things are also heating up in the AHSAA with questions of who will be the dominant team in Area 3 Class IA. In Sweet Water, expectations are high, as third-year head coach Stacy Luker returns 22 lettermen after going (7-5) in 2003 and making a second round playoff appearance. The Bulldogs will begin their season with a trip to Thomasville on August 27.

John Essex may have lost head coach Pierre Goode, but they haven’t loss much else. Adolphus Shipman replaces Goode as the Hornets head coach and in doing so inherits a multi-talented team with 12 returning lettermen. The Hornets will open their season against Marengo High on August 27, in Demopolis.

But fans can catch a sneak preview of what’s to come this season when John Essex hosts the Marengo County Annual Football Jamboree on Thursday, August 19. Teams participating include: A.L. Johnson. Linden, John Essex, and Marengo High Schools.