Granger leading SUA into varsity football



Bill Granger (blue shirt) will lead Success Unlimited in its first football season.
Photo: Tim Gayle


   It’s 3:27 a.m. on the eve of the first day in pads and Success Unlimited Academy coach Bill Granger just sent a text message to his assistant coaches.

   He didn’t expect any of them to be awake. But when you’re building a team from scratch, ideas come to you in the strangest of forms. And at the strangest of times.

   “It was not for them to answer,” Granger explained, “but I was sitting in my den because sometimes your mind is racing so much until you get what’s on your mind out.

   “That part has been the stress part. The beauty part is seeing it all come together. It’s a wonderful journey, but to say it’s not stressful and I have not aged would be a lie.”

   Granger was hired as the Mustangs’ athletic director and helped the athletic program add football in only 12 months. The school received uniforms as a gift from St. James; helmets from Autauga Academy; shoulder pads from Catholic; and a team bus was purchased from South Montgomery County Academy. The school joined the Alabama Independent School Association and put out the call for football players. 

    “We had some miracles occur between January and where we are now that just fell into place that if they didn’t I have no idea how we would be able to pull this off,” Granger said. “That’s just been a blessing. Also, it’s an all-in attitude here at school with the eligibility paperwork, sending out e-mails, taking the money that comes in. It’s a big operation. The administration and teachers that have volunteered just to be a part of what we’re doing, it’s an exciting time around here.”

   Now comes the hardest part – figuring out the positions of the players to put in the right position to keep the program from embarrassing itself on game night and perhaps even pulling off the victory. Several of the players have played football before, either at another school or at a lower level earlier in their lives. For others, it’s their first time.

   “We always let a kid tell us what they want to play,” Granger said, “but they have an understanding at the beginning that you will play where you’re most needed. And I’ve been very pleased at the kids that, after some initial discouragement that I may not be where I want to be, they’ve all just jumped in there and done a good job. It’s been amazing. They have a great attitude.

    “We don’t know who our guard, tackle, everybody is, but we know here’s a linemen, here’s a back, here’s a receiver, here’s a potential starting quarterback. And we’re moving faster now because we’ve gotten past the initial stages, but we’re going to hit a brick wall again when we start hitting. Some of those who have the athletic ability, when they bump into each other, that may create more questions as one kid may love it and another one may hate it.”

    In the meantime, as he continues to put the pieces of the puzzle together, Success Unlimited assistant coaches can expect more texts from their boss at all hours of the day and night.

    “Numbers wise, we have enough to cover every position and a backup at most of them, so we’re doing well there,” Granger said. “Athletically, we have enough to compete and we’re very proud of that. We’re just learning each other and trying to build a team together. How far along will we be on Aug. 17? That’s like peeling an onion. You cannot get ahead of yourself. It takes this before you can do that.”

Taking outdoor photos



By Fred Marshall

Given the right time of day and lighting, the Sand Island Lighthouse in Mobile could be a winner.

  I’ve noticed the past few years that an increasing number of sportsmen are choosing to take a still or video camera with them on their hunting trips.  After a while, some don’t take a firearm at all, preferring instead to record that big buck, etc. on film rather than hanging it on the wall.  In addition, others who’ve never hunted are discovering the vast array of photo subjects that await them afield in Alabama.  In keeping with that, the Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest is now accepting entries through October 31, 2018.  The contest is a joint project between our Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Alabama Tourism Dept., and the Alabama Bicentennial Commission.

     The contest is open to state residents, as well as visitors, but qualifying photographs must have been taken in Alabama.  Contest coordinator Kim Nix says a new category connects the celebration of Alabama’s statehood to the photo contest (now in its 14th year). “We’ve added an Alabama Bicentennial Category this year.  Photos in the category could include historical parks, forts, lighthouses, battlefields, or archaeological sites.  Those are just examples–it’s a broad category,” Nix says.  Another new category this year is Waterfalls, which has been a popular subject for photos in previous years.

     The contest is open to adults and youths, and a total of 10 photos may be entered per person.  Categories include Alabama Bicentennial, Birds of a Feather, Bugs and Butterflies, Coastal Life, Cold-Blooded Critters, Nature-Based Recreation, Shoots and Roots, State Park Adventures, Sweet Home Alabama, Watchable Wildlife, and Young Photographer.  Category Explanations and additional entry information can be found at  Entry is restricted to the online upload of digital images, which can be completed from a computer, tablet, or mobile phone.  First, Second, Third, and one honorable mention will be awarded in each category.  Winning images will be featured online and in a traveling exhibit across the state in 2019.

     On another note, we don’t normally think of invasive species as making trophies people can be proud of, but bow fisherman Andrew Fox of Mechanicsville, Maryland, is nonetheless proud of his new Maryland state record northern snakehead fish.  The unsightly fish, a native of Asia, was 35 inches long, and tipped the scales at 19.9 pounds.  Rod and reel anglers and bow fishermen like Fox are encouraged to take all they can.  There is no minimum size or limit.  It is said the fish are tasty table fare, but I’m not going to try it. The Asian invaders have made their way into California, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  So far, none have been found in Alabama.

North too much for South on soccer field




    The North all-star soccer teams swept the South 2-0 and 2-1 at Alabama All-Stars Sports Week, but the outcome was in doubt in both games played at the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex, an indication the South has narrowed the gap that once existed in the sport.

In girls’ action, the North won for the 14th time in 17 meetings, but Tuesday’s game was certainly one of the most closely contested. The game was scoreless at the half and the best scoring opportunity came early in the second half on a penalty kick from Montgomery Academy’s Tara Katz.


Montgomery Academy player Tara Katz
Photo: Tim Gayle

Katz played virtually the entire 80 minutes of the contest, finally leaving the field in the final minutes after Madison Academy’s Emery Mills scored the game’s final score with less than 10 minutes remaining to give the North a 2-0 lead.

   Mills, who assisted on the game’s first goal, earned most valuable player honors for the North. South goalkeeper Adriana Wright of Northview, who had nine saves, was the South MVP.

   In addition to Katz, other local players on the all-star team included Bea Richardson of St. James, Janie Szoboszlay of Alabama Christian and Claire Mills of Catholic.

   “It was awesome,” Mills said. “I liked meeting all the girls and getting new friends. It was great.”

And while the South failed to score in the game, Mills felt like her team put on a good performance in the contest.

   “I definitely think we could have won, we just didn’t get our finishes,” Mills said. “But I felt like it was a pretty close game between the two of us.”

   Like most of the all-stars, Mills hasn’t made any plans collegiately so the all-star exposure could certainly help her with college recruiters.

   “I’m still looking at different places,” Mills said. “I think it is good (for getting attention from college coaches) because all of us on the field are equally good, so it’s easy for us to play our best since we have other players on a level with us.”

   The boys’ game, while just as close on the scoreboard, presented a struggle for the South team in keeping up with the more dominant all-stars from the North, who won for the 13th time in 18 meetings. The South managed to tie the game at 1-1 midway through the second half on a goal from Spanish Fort’s Joseph Quinn before the North took the win on a goal by Price Leonard of Westminster-Oak Mountain.


Montgomery Academy player Bradley Westhauser
Photos: Tim Gayle

  “I thought we played really well,” said Montgomery Academy’s Bradley Westhauser, who along with Austin Lin of Alabama Christian represented the city in the event. “We only get one practice and to come together and play really well, I thought we did a great job.

   “It was a great experience because you get to meet so many kids from across the state who are so skillful and great soccer players. It was an eye-opening experience.”