As many teams around the State of Alabama prepare to head into round one of the high school football playoffs Friday night, it will be familiar territory.
However, that’s not the case for the East Lawrence High School Eagles. A win this weekend would mark the first playoff win in the school’s history.
The school has only made nine playoff appearances since its first team took the field in 1979. Some of the seniors who are part of the 9-1 season this year have clear memories of starting their high school careers going 0-10.
“And so, just for these young men to go as freshmen 0-10 to be sitting here right now at 9-1 to break the school record for points in a season, points in a game, wins in a season, they’ve done a lot of things,” said Head Coach Bo Culver.
“Our motto is ‘Tradition starts now.’ So, the stuff that’s happened in the past, we’re not carrying that. We’re carrying our own weight, which is this season and we’re excited about that because it’s a chance to break history and do something no one has ever done.”
Like coaches around the state and country, Culver had to grapple with the challenges that come with a pandemic. Some silver linings came when they received forfeit wins against both Phil Campbell and Sheffield high schools.
Both opposing teams took losses due to coronavirus-related issues.
For Culver, 2020 was also his first season as head coach of the East Lawrence squad. He came to the school after one season coaching at Hartselle High School.
“The first day we started summer workouts was the first day we got to meet each other. And so, just the way they’ve bought into everything we asked them to do, just the way they’ve continued to work, continued to just be committed to the goal, which is just being the most successful we can be, just being great men of character, being great men of integrity, glorifying Christ in the process, just can’t say enough about them,” Culver said.
But while they’ve seen historic success for the program this season, the Eagles were not underestimating their opponent on Friday: the Saks High School Wildcats.
Like the Eagles, the team from Anniston also notched its largest margin of victory last month against Weaver with a shutout victory of 60-0.
East Lawrence’s most dominant game of all time came on October 2 when they beat Elkmont High School 72-13.
The Friday match up also comes as the county awaits the results of the Presidential election that has both sides of the political isle anxiously awaiting the results.
Culver hopes that for those who come out Friday night can use it as an escape for a couple hours.
“People that come out tonight, man, we can put all that to bed, we can put all that on the shelf right now. Just be excited about high school football. Just be excited about normalcy for young people as much as we can in this crazy time right now,” Culver said.
He pointed to the players locker room and said it was a point of cultural and racial diversity and cohesion that he believes should be a model for the rest of society.
“Bottom line is our world’s got to love each other more, our country’s got to love each other more. Those kids love each other. If our world and our country could love each other the way that most locker room football kids do, we’d be in a lot better place,” Culver said.
The game kicks off Friday night at 7 p.m.