By Mark Clark
Since defeating the Thompson High Warriors 52-7 to claim the 2018 Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 7A state championship on Dec. 5, the Central High Red Devils have been collecting a ton of accolades. The biggest team honors collected have come from national polls.
Central spent most of the season under the radar, as it rolled up 14 straight victories to become the first Red Devils team to go unbeaten and untied in 74 years. The only other Central team to achieve the feat was the 1944 team which went 9-0. The perfect season gave Central its second state title in school history. The first title came in 1993, when Central won the AHSAA’s Class 6A title with a 12-7 victory over West End High. But, after the victory over Thompson in Jordan-Hare Stadium at Auburn University, the Red Devils have moved up in some polls and entered others.
The Red Devils’ highest ranking came from High School Football America which placed Central at No. 10 nationally. USA Today has Central at No. 24 in its Top 25. Maxpreps shows Central at No. 41.
Previously, Central had appeared in the USA Today Southeast region poll at No. 18. The Southeast region includes Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina.
Central coach Jamey DuBose said the team won the title by buying into the motto of “It is not about me. It is about we.” And, DuBose asked his team to focus on finishing the season in the title game. When DuBose became Central’s coach in the 2014 season, he promised the team would play for titles. For the last three seasons prior to this year, the Red Devils fell one game short of having the opportunity to play in the Class 7A title game with semifinal losses to McGill-Toolen High of Mobile. This year Central defeated McGill-Toolen in the second round of the playoffs, 14-0, and then defeated R.E. Lee High of Montgomery, 34-27, in the semifinal game to advance to the state championship contest.
DuBose’s efforts for the 2018 season have not gone unnoticed. He has been named the Coach of the Year by the Alabama Football Coaches Association and the Alabama High School Coach of the Year by USA Today. They are awards DuBose says are shared with his coaching staff.
“I’m just the guy who gets to accept the award. They really belong to the entire coaching staff,” DuBose said when he learn of the first award a week after the season ended.
Several Central players have also been honored since the season ended – most notably Peter Parrish and Ray Thornton. Parrish signed a letter of intent to play at LSU next season while Thornton signed his letter of intent with Clemson during the early signing season.
Parrish was selected to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and was the MVP of the state championship game. In the title game, Parrish ran for 100 yards with a touchdown and threw for another 78 with a touchdown in the victory over Thompson. Thornton made an interception against Thompson and returned it 68 yards for a Class 7A championship game record. Thornton was also selected for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, but did not play due to an injury.
A third Central player, running back A’Montae Spivey was selected for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic as well and is committed to play next season at Arkansas.
Bernard Miles also played in the game.
Miles, a defensive lineman, was named to the Class 7A First Team All-State squad by the ASWA on defense and Javion Cohen, an offensive tackle, was named to the squad. Receiver E.J. Williams and punter Zach Johnson were both named Honorable Mention to the team,
Cohen was named to the USA Today’s American Family Assurance All-USA Alabama football team’s first squad on offense. Spivey was a Second Team selection at running back. Thornton was named to the First Team defense at defensive back. Miles made the Second Team.