Although a lot of people think the preseason rankings should be taken with a grain of salt, there are certainly quite a few local teams to keep an eye out for, according to the Alabama Sports Writers Association preseason poll which was released Sunday night.
As expected, the Wetumpka Indians are the top ranked team in the county, coming in at No. 6 in Class 6A. The Indians advanced to the state championship two years ago and were ousted in the 6A semifinals a season ago.
“It’s a great compliment to the program,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “It’s nice but we always tell the players it won’t win any games for us. It just means we still have high expectations so we have to keep playing at a high level to earn a high ranking again.”
Wetumpka will have its hands full if it wants to keep that high ranking as it plays a tough schedule. Just in Class 6A Region 3, the Indians will face off against Opelika and Stanhope Elmore, both of which received votes. Outside region play, Wetumpka will also play Fairhope, which ranked No. 10 in 7A; Prattville, which received votes in 7A; and Muscle Shoals, which came in No. 3 in 6A.
“I think most coaches will use it as motivation in some way,” Perry said. “It’s positive in the sense of recognition for the program. But in a negative sense, it’s a little motivating to say, ‘Why aren’t we higher?’ Not in an arrogant way, but just to tell the kids if we think we deserve a higher ranking, we have to go out and earn it.”
The only other local team to earn a top-10 recognition was Reeltown in Class 2A. The Rebels came in at No. 9 but will also have their hands full with a tough schedule with the likes of Thorsby, just outside the top 10 in 2A, in their region and Maplesville, which earned the No. 2 spot in 1A, in non-region play.
In addition to Stanhope, a pair of other teams were sitting just outside their respective top 10s. In the AISA rankings, Edgewood ranked No. 11. The Wildcats were behind a relatively surprising ranking of Lee-Scott, which went 0-11 a year ago but are ranked No. 10 in AISA this preseason.
The Holtville Bulldogs also received votes in Class 4A.
“I didn’t even know enough writers knew where Holtville was to vote for us,” Bulldog coach Jason Franklin said. “It goes to the players and coaching staff who have worked really hard to even be considered. Obviously it’s just preseason rankings and you’d like to be the last one standing but it’s still tremendous for our guys to get to this point.”
Holtville will try to become ranked in the top 10 for the first team since 1993.
Editor’s Note: To hear more about the poll, listen in to Monday’s episode of Inside the Lines Podcast. Co-hosts Caleb Turrentine and myself kick off a daily preseason podcast series which will focus on previewing each of our 11 area teams. Monday’s episode starts things off with a breakdown of the ASWA preseason poll. Listen in on our websites or on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.