Four of six local teams crack preseason rankings

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Of the six high school football teams in Marengo County, four of them cracked the top 10 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association preseason polls.

Sweet Water, Linden, A.L. Johnson and Marengo Academy appear in the top 10 of their respective classes, leaving only Demopolis and Marengo High School on the outside looking in.

Sweet Water comes into the 2014 season ranked No. 5 in the Class 2A rankings. The Bulldogs are coming off of a 10-4 season in which they reached the state semifinals before falling to region rival Washington County.

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The Bulldogs will be under new leadership this season as Pat Thompson took over for Stacy Luker, who accepted a coaching position in Mississippi.

The Linden Patriots will begin the season ranked No. 3 in the Class 1A poll. They’re coming off of a 9-4 season in 2013 that ended in a loss to Maplesville in the third round of the playoffs.

A.L. Johnson will enter the season ranked No. 10 in the Class 1A rankings. The Eagles ended their 2013 campaign with a 7-3 record, falling to Autaugaville in the opening round of the playoffs.

For the first time in 30 years, the Eagles will begin the season without Mose Jones roaming the sidelines. Johnny Ford is the new head man for ALJ, and he’s looking to build on the success from Jones’ final season in 2013.

Marengo Academy will start their title defense ranked No. 5 in the AISA rankings. They finished the 2013 season with an unblemished 13-0 record, claiming the AISA Class A title. This year, the Longhorns will compete in AISA Class AA this season after moving up in classification.

The Demopolis Tigers barely missed the top 10 for Class 5A, earning enough votes for what would be No. 12 in the rankings. Demopolis finished the season with a 7-4 record last year and were knocked out of the playoffs by St. Paul’s in the first round.

Marengo High School did not receive any votes for the Class 1A poll despite being a playoff team last season. The Panthers finished the season 6-6 and lost to Maplesville in the opening round of the playoffs.

The Panthers will also welcome a new coach this year after three seasons with Dredrick Bell at the helm. Eberne Myrthil takes over this season to try to build on last season’s success.