Last season, the storied year by McGill-Toolen football came up just a game shy, actually just a yard shy, of a shot at the state championship game in Tuscaloosa. The Yellow Jackets fell to Auburn in the semi-final game at Lipcomb Stadium, 24-21, after getting stuffed on the goal line on the go-ahead touchdown try. With the arrival of spring practice, the Jackets are using that loss as a motivator.
“You look at the way those kids played and how hard they played. For it not to work out for whatever reason, it’s certainly heart breaking for those seniors; but you look back on that team and you take a lot of pride in what those kids were able to accomplish and what our team was able to accomplish,” said head coach Bart Sessions. “Going forward, how does it motivate you? You always look for something and our kids have talked about being one step short the entire year. We didn’t have to put that idea in their head, you hear them talk about it in the weight room. And that’s kind of fun to see this group, the senior leadership emerging already.”
“Everybody on the team’s got to want to do their job in order for us to make the next step. We’re changing a lot this year, losing a lot of players, everyone’s just got to want to win a state championship,” said senior WR, Tripp Cobb. “Just knowing that we came up one step short, that we have to get every extra rep possible, every aspect of the game has to be perfect and we have to make that next step.”
The Yellow Jackets enter the 2014 season as a favorite to win the 7A Region 1 title. McGill-Toolen will line up against Alma Bryant, Baker, Davidson, Fairhope, Foley, MGM, Murphy and Theodore – the only 9 team region in the state for 7A.
“We’re actually happy about it, we want to compete at the highest levels and that’s one reason we scheduled our spring game (against Hoover), we want to go play the best and use that as a measuring stick to see how good of a program we can be. With our schedule that’s certainly the case, we’re going to find out every Friday night. There are no gimmies on that schedule; everyone in the region is a quality opponent, with the addition of Fairhope and Foley, that certainly makes our region a deeper region. Our out of region being Vigor and Blount, we want the challenge, our kids want the challenge to go out every Friday night and test ourselves,” said Sessions.
The Yellow Jackets will go head-to-head with power-house Hoover on May 17th to end the spring season.