Akron to move to Class 1A, Region 6

Published 4:15 pm Monday, August 23, 2010

AKRON — An 11th hour decision by the AHSAA and the members of Class 1A, Region 6 will allow Akron High to play a region schedule and have a shot at the state playoffs this season and next.

School administrators received official word of the decision late Sunday night, altering Akron’s plans to play five junior varsity and four varsity games as an unclassified team this season, replacing Saint Bernard’s team, which did not have enough players to compete this season.

“They are very excited,” Akron head coach Richard Bevill said of his players’ reaction to the news. “They feel like they are playing for something now, especially my seniors.” Bevill has four seniors on his roster, all of whom believed they would be able to play in only four varsity games this season due.

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Akron competed in Class 1A, Region 3 in all of its athletics last season. However, school officials and community members believed the school would be moved from a K-12 to a K-8. As such, Akron was not counted for varsity athletics when the AHSAA reclassified its member schools earlier this year.

After high school students were informed they would be divided up and sent to other high schools in Hale County, community members began to rally around the school. A vote by the Hale County Board of Education this morning determined Akron would remain a K-12 school, but it was too late for high school athletic programs to be considered for classification. Sunday evening’s e-mail changed all of that.

“They kept fighting,” former Sunshine High head coach and current Akron assistant Jonathan Jenkins said. “I’m glad I’m here to watch it.”

Jenkins, a Linden resident, applied for a transfer from Sunshine over the summer, moving at a time when he thought Akron would remain a K-8. His decision to give up coaching proved less than permanent when Bevill recruited him back into the sport. Now, he is helping a new set of players to adjust to an unusual circumstance.

“Back in March, you didn’t have a high school,” he told some of the Rams’ players. “Now you have a high school and you are ready to begin qualifying for the playoffs. Adults got us into this mess, you’ve just got to play through it.”

The Rams move into a region consisting of Ragland, Appalachian, Coosa Christian, Jacksonville Christian, Donoho, Parkway Christian and Jefferson Christian. Akron’s new 2010 varsity football schedule will include only eight games, featuring a week five date with A.L. Johnson as the only non-region contest on the slate. The squad gave up non-region games with Decatur Heritage and Alabama School for the Deaf as they conflicted with the new region schedule. It also cancelled its week 10 game against Parkway Christian, which is now a region opponent.

“Today, when I got to school, I’ve got a lot of guys wanting to come out for football now,” Bevill said. Sunday’s revelation acted as validation for Bevill, who chose to remain at the school during the 2010 and 2011 seasons in which Akron was not thought to be a full AHSAA member.

“I feel like this program has had eight coaches in 11 years,” Bevill said. “I was willing to sit these two years and bring stability to the program.”

Akron plays its first game of the season Friday, Sept. 3 on the road against Jefferson Christian.