Sampley letter read, Lowndes Academy recognizes 2017 seniors and 1997 state championship team

Published 9:15 am Friday, October 27, 2017

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By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Lowndes Academy Seniors for 2017 and the school’s 1997 AISA Class AA State Championship Football Team were honored at S.M. Mac Champion Jr. Stadium on Friday, Oct. 13.

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The recognitions were made at the last regular home football game of the season. And as a special treat, a letter was read over the public-address system from the head football coach of that team, now the head football coach at Fort Dale Academy, James (Speed) Sampley.

Sampley could not be present as his team was playing Monroe on Friday, Oct. 13.

However, he wrote, “Over the years my teams have asked me who the best team I ever coached was. My response has always been the ’97 Rebels.”

He continued, “They believe they could whip y’all, but I don’t think so. I tell them how hard you played and how much each practice and game meant to you. The mental and physical toughness that your team displayed throughout that year is the thing that I wish they could have seen. I am very proud to have been a part of the ’97 team’s championship. It is a time in my life that I will always cherish.”

Sampley wrote that coach Sullivan was his high school coach and the reason he went on to become a coach. “He did more to shape my life and career than he will ever know. My relationship the players from your team also influenced my life and coaching career, and for that, I thank you.”

Seniors recognized and their activities include Christian Brock Barkley, son of Brock Barkley and Kay Adair, varsity football and baseball; Jacob Coleman Crook, son of Jim and Christine Crook of Braggs, varsity football; Ryan Patrick Davis, son of Keith and Heather Bowen of Greenville, Key, Art and Spanish Clubs, varsity football and baseball;

Emi Ann Gluschick, daughter of John and Christina Gluschick of Lowndesboro, Senior Beta, Key, Art and Spanish Clubs, varsity softball, varsity cheerleader; Madison Caroline Gray, daughter of Phil and Carmen Gray of Hope Hull, Key, Art, Senior Beta Club, FCA and Spanish Clubs, SGA Parliamentarian, varsity cheerleader; Carter John Haggard, son of LaDon and Tina Dansby of Montgomery and Jody Haggard of Tallassee, varsity baseball and football;

Madolynn Christine Headley, daughter of Gary Headley of Lowndesboro and Lynn Headley of Montgomery, varsity cheerleader, varsity volleyball, varsity basketball, senior Beta, Art, Spanish and Key Clubs; Arthur Robert Johnson Jr., son of the late Robert Johnson and Laura Nobles, varsity football, basketball and baseball; Jonathan David Johnson, son of Brian Johnson of Hayneville and Sonya Johnson of Hope Hull, Key and Art Club, varsity football, basketball, baseball and track;

Autumn McKinley Laymon, daughter of Jeff and Melinda Laymon of Hayneville, Art, Senior Beta, Key and Spanish Clubs, Yearbook, SGA, varsity volleyball, track, varsity football water girl; Avery Caroline Morgan, daughter of Bill and Wendy Morgan of Hayneville, varsity cheerleader co-captain, volleyball, softball and track, SGA President, Senior Class Vice President, Senior Beta, Key, Art and Spanish Clubs;

Jason Riley Patton, son of Lynn Patton of Mississippi and Rene Patton of Tyler, Key and Art Clubs, varsity football; Brian Maxwell Rayburn, son of April and Wayne Hollingshead of Hayneville and Josh and Carey Rayburn of Brantley, FCA, Key and Art Clubs, varsity football, basketball, baseball and track; Hannah Faith Rogers, daughter of Joey and Angela Rogers of Letohatchee, varsity basketball and track, water girl for varsity football, SGA Chaplain,  Senior Beta, Art, Key, Spanish and FCA Clubs, Distinguished Young Woman for Lowndes County Program;

Joe Sanford Rosser III, son of Sanford and Beth Rosser of Lowndesboro, varsity football and baseball, Key Senior Beta and Spanish Clubs, SGA, Boys State;

Peyton Grace Simmons, daughter of Rodney Simmons of Prattville and Dr. Holladay Strickland of Lowndesboro, Senior Class President, Key Club President, SGA Vice President, Senior Beta Club and Spanish Club, varsity cheerleader; and Oliva Grace Walker, daughter of Mitt and Brandi Walker of Montgomery, Senior Beta, Key, Art and Spanish Clubs, Senior Class and SGA Secretary, varsity cheerleader, varsity softball.

The 1997 AISA Class AA Rebels won the state championship with a record of 11-2 under the leadership of then head football coach James (Speed) Sampley.

That team outscored opponents 346-74.

The defense was coached by Art Sullivan and allowed less than 6 points per game.

The 1997 Rebels defeated Shelby Academy 14-9 for the State Championship.

Cheerleaders for that team were sophomores Lori Dozier Stapp and Elizabeth Young, juniors Anna Bohn Ward and Sarah McNeal Harrell, seniors Joslyn Blackburn Daniels, Purdey Bartley DesParte, Blair Coker, Shelley Davis Hansen, Valerie Gann Peck, Lisa Woodruff, Co-Captains Dana Lang Cody and Captain Olivia Hussey Stephens.

Players on that team included, eighth grade, Kyle Harrell, QB; Ninth Grade, David Ellison, K/QB, Justin Dyer, RB/DB, Michael Owen, OL/DL, Trey Holmes OL/DL, Eddie McCrory, C; sophomores, Brannon Eagerton, TE/LB, Justin Simmons, WR/CB, Josh Stapp, WR/DB, Jonathon Pouncey, FB/LB, Stewart Harrell, FB/LB, Peyton Hargrove, OT/DT, Hunter Hogan, DL;

Juniors, Edwin Anderson, WB; Trey Harrell, QB, Brian Wright, RB/CB, Jay Miller, WR/DB, Dustin Callis, TE/DE, Jason Dyer, RB/CB, Dusty Hollingshead, FB/LB, Steve Dozier, WR/S, Daniel Young, OG, B.J. Leverette, OL/DL, Ben Rives, OG/DT, John “Scooter” Strickland, C, and Jay Todd, TE/LB;

Seniors, Jason Stapp, WR/DB, Jason Savell, WR/K, Steve Ornellas, LB, and Jack Daniels, OG.

AISA All-Stars were Brett Hollingshead, TE/DE, Jay Woodall, OT, and All-Star and State Champion MVP Chad Coker, OT/DT.

Coaches and Staff included Manager Justin Dixon, Trainer Shelby Searcy (Rehab Associates), Reggie McNamee, W.D. Arthur, Dennis Blair, Adam Fralick, Matt Marshall, defensive coach and assistant head coach Art Sullivan and head coach and offensive coordinator James “Speed” Sampley.

Note: All names are spelled as they were provided.