Moving up, moving around

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

There are a lot of things that can happen to raise a team’s confidence.

Like getting healthier, getting older and losing virtually an entire season’s worth of tough opponents.

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The Morgan football team is practicing this spring with the hope of putting a rough two-year stretch far behind and once again becoming a contender in the AISA state championship race.

“We think we’ll experience a lot better season than we have in the past few years,” senior halfback Heath Harrelson said.

Winners of 11 state championships, the Senators are no strangers to running the gauntlet. But the tough 3A schedule had taken its toll on an outfit that had been outmanned and undersized in the last couple of seasons.

It seems every possible injury had hit the squad in that time, and a perennial contender turned into a rebuilding project.

The AISA’s new realignment didn’t help Morgan’s cause nearly as much as the departure of Faith Acadamy and Cottage Hill – the largest schools in the entire league – for the AHSAA next season.

“It’s strange because we’re losing every opponent except for Wilcox,” coach Robert Gartman said. “That’s nine new teams on our schedule. Prattville Christian and East Memorial grew and outgrew Clarke Prep and Monroe, so that’s four teams gone from our region. The AISA drew a line right down I-65. Every team east of I-65 is in one region, and every team west of I-65 is in the other region.”

That’s some comfort to the Senators, but not much. Three of the teams in Morgan’s new region have won state championships within the last five years.

Still, a group made up mainly of 10th and 11th graders that have either been starters or have seen regular playing time will try to get things built back up in a hurry.

“I think we’ll be back in the mix quicker than we thought we’d be,” Gartman said.

The Senators get to see their first game action since October with Friday night’s spring jamboree. The Senators will play Monroe Academy and Pickens Academy, and kickoff is set for 6 p.m.