Cherokee County Herald - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

“They both have a great knowl­edge of the game, and they’re able to paint a good pic­ture of what’s go­ing on from the broad­cast booth so the lis­ten­ers at home can vi­su­al­ize what’s go­ing on on the field,” Baker said. “We think they’re as good a team as there is cover­ing high school foot­ball on Fri­day nights in the booth.”

San­ford and McEl­wee are com­ing off calling a strong 2016 foot­ball sea­son through­out the area. Four of the five schools in Chero­kee County not only made the play­offs, but hosted first-round play­off games. Neigh­bor­ing Pied­mont went on to win its sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Class 3A state cham­pi­onship.

San­ford and McEl­wee called sev­eral out­stand­ing games along each team’s re­spec­tive paths last sea­son, and they’re hop­ing to do much the same this sea­son.

“That first week matchup, Chero­kee County at Pied­mont, should be special. I be­lieve it could be break­through year for Chero­kee County against the Bull­dogs,” San­ford said.

“Week 2 with Spring Gar­den at Gaylesville will be fun. The Panthers have be­come a le­git pro­gram and I want to see what they bring to the table this sea­son. As for Gaylesville, I be­lieve it will be a great op­por­tu­nity to get a feel for what kind of year they will have.

“On Sept. 29, we have Collinsville at Cedar Bluff, and that is al­ways fun. It’s an out-of-re­gion matchup, but th­ese two schools will go at each other as fiercely as they can. We’ll get to see a lot of ath­letes on the field.

“The fi­nal two weeks of the reg­u­lar sea­son should pro­vide a fan­tas­tic fin­ish. Cedar Bluff takes on Spring Gar­den (Oct. 27) for what we think again could be the re­gion ti­tle matchup, and to fin­ish the reg­u­lar sea­son with Cedar Bluff and Sand Rock, that’s a su­perb ap­pe­tizer for the play­offs.”

McEl­wee said he’s not only look­ing for­ward to those games, but some oth­ers on the sched­ule as well.

“Oneonta comes to Chero­kee County this year (Sept. 22). That’s not a matchup we’ve seen a lot,” he said.

“I know they’ve played each other in the play­offs and I know they’ve been in the same re­gion be­fore in the past, but that’s an in­ter­est­ing matchup there.

“You look down at Oct. 6 with Woodville at Gaylesville, and you’re prob­a­bly look­ing at a play­off berth on the line in that one. Sec­tion at Sand Rock the next week (Oct. 13) is an­other matchup we don’t get to see ev­ery year. Ashville at Chero­kee County the week after that (Oct. 20) should be an in­ter­est­ing matchup there.”

What makes each of the matchups in­ter­est­ing for both San­ford and McEl­wee to cover this year is the un­knowns with sev­eral area teams.

“I see a lot of tran­si­tion this year,” McEl­wee said. “We lost a lot of good se­niors last year, some guys who had played a lot of foot­ball, but you’ve Tyren Dupree back at Chero­kee County, and you’ve got Jansen Alexan­der back at Sand Rock. You’ve got to like both of their chances be­cause they’ve got their quar­ter­backs back.

“Spring Gar­den will break in a lot of new folks, and Cedar Bluff has Isaiha Jones and Ivory Starr back. It’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing to see if they go with the (Luke) Hamp­ton kid at quar­ter­back or play the Wild­cat like they did in the Spring Gar­den game last year.

“Gaylesville could have been a re­ally good team last year, but the in­jury bug bit them early and I don’t think we ever saw them as good as they could have been. I like what Coach (Kyle) Garmon does there, so it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how those guys come back this year.

“Pied­mont loses one of those on­cein-a-gen­er­a­tion-type guys in Tay­lor Hayes. Austin Bra­zier, Chase Bob­bitt and those guys are all gone, but they just reload. They’re go­ing to look dif­fer­ent this year, but you look around and have a hard time find­ing some­one, es­pe­cially in North Alabama, who’s go­ing to be able to beat them.”

To help get fans pre­pared for the week­end’s ac­tion on both the high school and col­lege foot­ball fields, “The End Zone Show” will re­turn for its sev­enth year. The show, hosted by McEl­wee, is ev­ery Thurs­day night dur­ing foot­ball sea­son at 6 p.m.

Join­ing McEl­wee is for­mer Sand Rock foot­ball coach Russell Ja­coway, along with Chero­kee County Her­ald sports ed­i­tor Shan­non Fagan and The Post man­ag­ing ed­i­tor Scott Wright. Each mem­ber of the so-called “Round Table” will re­view the pre­vi­ous week’s games and of­fer their in­sight on the cur­rent week­end’s ac­tion.

“That’s one of my fa­vorite things to do,” McEl­wee said. “The games are al­ways fun, but I al­ways en­joy that one hour on Thurs­day be­ing with the guys. It’s kind of like with Nolen. We all play off of each other well. What Coach Ja­coway has brought the past cou­ple of years has re­ally helped us a lot. I en­joy that role of be­ing the host.”

Last year’s “End Zone Show” was held at and spon­sored by the Hud­dle House in Cen­tre. Baker said he’s still work­ing on this year’s site and spon­sor.

“It’s a good setup to the Fri­day night broad­cast,” Baker said. “We feel like it’s grown in its pop­u­lar­ity over the years.”

But re­gard­less of the lo­ca­tion of this year’s show, Baker ex­pects an­other ex­cit­ing sea­son.

“We think with the broad­cast lineup we have we’re go­ing to have a good broad­cast year,” he said. “We try to be in some­one’s sta­dium ev­ery Fri­day night bring­ing a qual­ity broad­cast to the area so peo­ple who may not be able to make it to a par­tic­u­lar game, if they want to hear it they’ll be able to do so. That’s al­ways the in­tent, to make lis­ten­ing fun and en­joy­able for our lis­ten­ers.”

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