2023 High School Football Preview: Hokes Bluff’s hall of fame coach going strong

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Photo courtesy of Alex Chaney 

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Mike Robertson has no plans to put up his whistle and clipboard any time soon as he enters his 28th years as a head football coach at 1865 Appalachian Highway in Hokes Bluff.
“I think I’m doing a halfway decent job in that these kids want to play for me, and I still think I’m making a difference,” he said. “When the season is over, win or lose, I want these kids to have fun. There’s no shame in sometimes failing in life as long as you know that you did your best.”
Robertson pointed out that he has worked with only two staffs during his almost 30 years on the sidelines.
“Loyalty is so important in today’s world. Greg Watkins, Jeff Noah and Patrick Ball were with me for a long time, including the state championship year (in 2001). Now we have Jake Ball, Brian Sexton, Taylor Morgan and Brad [Robertson], who all played for me, and they know what Hokes Bluff is about.”
Robertson anticipates a bit more depth this season with 61 players on the roster. The 2022 team got out to a 4-1 start in region play before losing their final three, finishing a game out of the state playoffs.
“We’ve had a good offseason and we’re excited about this year,” he said. “We have several players back whom we feel will be good leaders and have great work ethics and are dedicated to Hokes Bluff.”
The Eagles have six returning starters on both sides of the ball, with several veterans at the skill positions having seen significant playing time since their freshman seasons.
A pair of three-year starters whom Robertson expects significant production from are senior defensive end/linebacker Dylan Lancaster and center Harrison Cummings. Other key returning veterans include All-County, All-Region and All-Messenger receiver/defensive back Anderson Morgan, junior guard Leon Chen and senior fullback Brayson Hayes.
The Eagles lost their top passer, receiver and rusher to graduation. Robertson sees both Morgan and ? Bryce Whitaker as viable options at the positions.
Hokes Bluff once again shares Class 3A Region 6 with Glencoe, Westbrook Chris-tian, Piedmont, Geraldine, Plainview, Ohatchee and Sylvania.
“We’re still in the SEC Central, so every game will be tough,” said Robertson. “It looks like everyone on our schedule has gotten a bit better. I think we have a chance to be better, but sometimes your competition determines your record. We haven’t won every game lately, but I think we’re competitive and we play hard and we do the right things.”
Robertson was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame this past March.
“I’m very appreciative. It means you’ve been around for a long time, which I guess is good in one way. We’ve had our ups and downs the last few years and had some good runs before that. [The award] gives Hokes Bluff a little limelight. Anybody that’s ever lived out here knows that we’ve got a good community.”
Robertson graduated as class valedictorian in 1977 from Hokes Bluff, where he earned All-Etowah County honors in football, basketball and baseball. He was the quarterback on a state championship team and state runner-up football team and played on three state championship baseball teams. His No. 2 jersey was retired by the school in 1977.
In 27 years as head football coach, Robertson has compiled a record of 174-127 with 15 state playoff appearances. His 2001 team won the Class 3A state championship. Two of Robertson’s teams made it to the state semifinals and two qualified for the quarterfinals. Robertson has had 45 players named to various ASWA All-State teams. The school’s football field was named in his honor in 2019
Robertson coached girls’ basketball at Hokes Bluff from 1986-2008, winning seven area championships and advancing six teams to the state semifinals. He took over as head baseball coach in 2011. In 12 years, his teams won seven area championships, with two making the semifinals and one the state championship series.
Robertson was inducted into the Etowah County Hall of Fame in 2016.

 

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