By Gene Stanley/Messenger Sports Correspondent
Gadsden City High fans will get some new looks this year.
The Titans, who have competed in regions composed mostly of Birmingham teams for their entire six-year existence, will play in a different region this go-round, playing a few Huntsville teams.
Hewitt-Trussville, Clay-Chalkville, Oxford and Pell City are still on the slate, but Gadsden City will play Albertville (which is in 6A for the first time), Lee-Huntsville, Grissom and Huntsville in region games.
“I don’t know a lot about those teams,” GCHS head coach Joe Billingsley said. “But it will be interesting for us and for the fans. The Huntsville teams have a great tradition of winning, and Albertville should be a great natural rivalry, with the closeness of the towns.”
The Titans originally finished fifth in Class 6A, Region 7, but were awarded the fourth and final playoff berth when region winner Clay-Chalkville was ruled ineligible for the postseason just days before the first round.
Billingsley, who is 52-21 and has a 32-10 region record at GCHS, named Clay-Chalkville as “probably the team to beat” in the region. The Cougars were beating all comers last season before having to forfeit their wins. Most of those players are back.
C.J. Moore is back for his second year under center. Moore last season passed for 1,241 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also was second in rushing on the team with 367 yards.
The dual-threat senior quarterback has worked hard this summer trying to make himself better.
“I expect C.J. to take the things he’s learned and apply it to the game,” Billingsley said. “He’s got a lot of confidence and has the ability to make things happen with his legs if the receivers are covered.”
Senior Trevor Sandridge will start at tailback with senior Chris Lawrence and sophomore Dante Rudolph in reserve.
Seniors LaGerald Malone and B.J. Hammond, along with junior Terrell Malone, will line up at receiver. Hammond last season hauled in 23 passes for 332 yards.
“Hammond has good size and physicality,” Billingsley said of the Mississippi State commit-ment. “He is a load to try and defend.”
Seniors Khalid Can-non, Tavoris Pearson, Sta-cy Jelks and Buster Posey all will get playing time on the offensive line.
Rodney Edwards and Finesse Middleton are slated to start on the defensive line, while seniors Blake Worthy and Rashad Carter and junior T.J. Posey and are linebackers. Middleton has committed to play for Ole Miss next year. Posey had 84 tackles and four sacks last year, while Car-ter totaled 65. Worthy had 47 stops and five sacks.
“Those should be a strength for us,” Billingsley said of the roles. “I expect good things out of that group.”
At defensive back, there is a battle that may not be resolved until some-time later in the season.
“I’d love to get it set-tled and have a true depth chart for those positions,” Billingsley said. “But right now, it’s unclear who will get the starts.”
Junior Tray Smo-thers, senior Zee Underwood and six or seven other players are fighting for the four slots in the se-condary.
Senior Austin Piazza, a soccer player, will kick, while senior D.D. Adkison will handle the punting chores.
Assistant coaches are Ali Smith, Rayshawn Edwards, Scott Brackett, Jay Estes, Kevin Young, Snooky Burgess, Jeff Gilbert, Adrian Ragland, Hunter Crompton, Brad Bruce, Corey Walker, Ren-za Avery, Scott Rickles, B.J. Brooks and Daniel Arthur.
Aug. 31 – @Florence
Sept. 8 – @ R.E. Lee*
Sept. 14 – Oxford*
Sept. 21 – @Albertville*
Sept. 28 – Auburn
Oct. 5 – @Pell City*
Oct, 12 – @Clay*
Oct. 19 – Grissom*
Oct. 26 – Huntsville*
Nov. 2 – Hewitt-Truss.
* Region game
GCHS 7, Tusc. Co. 6
Oxford 14, GCHS 13
GCHS 49, SVHS 0
GCHS 25, Huffman 12
Hoover 35, GCHS 21
Clay-Chalk 28, GCHS 14*
Austin 24, GCHS 21
GCHS 40, Pell City 23
Hew.-Truss. 28, GCHS 25
GCHS 24, R.E. Lee 0
Mtn. Brook 21, GCHS 0
*later won on forfeit