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Prep football in Alabama returns to my life

It’s been almost 30 years since I covered high school football in the state of Alabama.

I will have that opportunity with The Selma Times-Journal this fall. Between Aug. 24 and Nov. 2, I will be covering football games in Dallas County.

As a former player and media member, there’s nothing more special than prep football in Alabama.

I had the privilege of being part of both. I was not a superstar, but it paved the way for my eventual journalism career.

I played three years at Holt High from 1985 to 1987, and was a varsity letterman as a defensive lineman.

In case you’re wondering, Holt is a small community on the Eastern side of Tuscaloosa and located 95 miles away from Selma. I loved being an Ironman, a mascot that’s a throwback to the area’s industrial past.

For two years in practice, I lined up against defensive end Steve Webb, the state of Alabama’s top-rated prospect in 1987. Webb, who later played at the University of Alabama, won virtually every one of those battles, but I always gave it my all.

As my career ended, the junior high team had a talented offensive and defensive lineman named Kerry Jenkins.  Jenkins later signed with LSU, transferred to Troy University and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. He played eight NFL seasons.

While attending Stillman College, I worked two years at The Tuscaloosa News as a sports correspondent covering high school football in 1990 and 1991. I remain grateful that my journalism professor at Stillman College, Stephen F. Jackson, made it happen.

My only regret is I would’ve liked to have covered my alma mater during that time. I was assigned the other schools in the West Alabama region.

I appreciated the opportunity to get newspaper experience in my hometown and it served me well in the future. I learned to combine hard work with my enthusiasm for prep football.

I’ll add another chapter of prep football in Alabama to my life.  I’m looking forward to seeing football in the Black Belt region.

James Jones is the news editor for The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at james.jones@selmatimesjournal.com.