Champions Challenge

Six teams have been selected for the seventh annual Champions Challenge preseason football classic at Montgomery's Cramton Bowl Aug. 24-25.


Spanish Fort will take on Muscle Shoals Aug. 24 at 7:00 p.m. to kick-off of the two day event.

In the first of two games Aug. 25, Beauregard will face Central of Clay County, the new school formed by the merger of football powers Lineville and Clay County. That game kicks off at 5:00 p.m. followed by Mobile's McGill-Toolen vs. Northridge of Tuscaloosa at 7:30 p.m.

Spanish Fort, coached by Mark Freeman, finished 9-4 last season after winning the Class 5A state championship in 2010. The Toros reached the third round of the 2011 Class 5A state playoffs before falling to eventual state runner-up Vigor.

Muscle Shoals (11-2) of Coach Scott Basden went 9-1 in the regular season and also advanced to the third round of the 5A playoffs before being eliminated by Briarwood Christian.

Central of Clay County, located midway between Ashland and Lineville, will officially open its doors in the 2012-13 school year. The Class 4A school will inherit the strong traditions of Lineville and Clay County that made the annual Clay Bowl one of the most recognized rivalries in the nation.

Head coach Steve Giddens, who currently serves as head football coach and principal at Lineville, led his Aggies to the Class 2A semifinals and a 10-4 record before losing to eventual runner-up Tanner. Clay County, coached by Kris Herron, was 12-2 last season with both losses to 2011 Class 3A state champion Handley – once in region play and again in the semifinals.

Beauregard (10-2) finished 9-1 in the regular season with its only loss to Dadeville. The Hornets of Coach Smitty Grider advanced to the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs before falling to eventual state champion Jackson.

Northridge enjoyed its best season in school history in 2011 as Coach Michael Smith's Jaguars rolled to a 9-1 regular-season record. Northridge (10-2) lost to Oxford in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

McGill-Toolen (11-2), coached by Bart Sessions, also went 9-1 in the regular season with nine straight wins before losing 52-35 to city rival Murphy in the last regular season game. Two weeks later the Yellow Jackets avenged that setback with a 31-28 win over the Panthers in the 6A state playoffs. Central-Phenix City eliminated McGill in the third round.

In last year's al.com Champions Challenge, Daphne beat Clay-Chalkville 24-21, Hueytown downed Thomasville 36-27 and Hamilton nipped Sweet Water 38-35.

The schedule at Cramton Bowl:
Friday, August 24 – 7:00 p.m.: Spanish Fort (9-4) vs. Muscle Shoals (11-2)
Deon Johnson, Jonathan Cook (Spanish Fort), and Auburn commitment Dee Liner (Muscle Shoals).

Saturday, August 25 – 5 p.m.: Central of Clay County (0-0) vs. Beauregard (10-2)

Saturday, August 25 – 7:30 p.m.: McGill-Toolen (11-2) vs. Northridge (10-2)
Jason Smith, Carl Lee (McGill-Toolen), and Bo Scarborough, James Cox (Northridge).

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