Stars in the spotlight
Senior running back Colton Keith is a prime candidate to be the Eagles' high-profile player. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards for two straight seasons. Last season he had 1,316 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Lay of the land
Decatur Heritage plays in Class 1A, Region 7 with Falkville, R.A. Hubbard, Coosa Christian, Woodville, Valley Head and Gaylesville. The Eagles’ non-region opponents are Phillips, Sumiton Christian and Shoals Christian.
Steve Meek is starting his ninth season at Decatur Heritage. The 59-year-old coach has a 55-35 record at Decatur Heritage with five trips to the state playoffs.
Class 1A, Region 7 was a four-team race with Decatur Heritage (7-4) finishing in fourth place behind Falkville, R.A. Hubbard and Coosa Christian. The Eagles lost in the first round of the playoffs at Spring Garden, 40-7.
Decatur Heritage averaged 30.7 points a game, but allowed 26.5 points.
Last three seasons
It’s been an amazing run for the Eagles with a 25-10 record.
Words to grow on
“We have 14 seniors this season,” Meek said. “That’s by far our largest senior class. Most of those senior have played a lot of football. We are excited to see what happens.”
Decatur Heritage went into last season with three quarterbacks — Stratton Orr, Hank Davis and Brayden Kyle — competing for playing time. It’s the same situation this season with the same three quarterbacks.
“I’ve thought about deciding on one as the starter and going from there,” Meek said. “But they all three have different skill sets. Deciding on one is not fair to the other two. They all deserve to play, too.”
Keith is the workhorse in the backfield. Meek’s biggest fear is wearing him out. Junior Michael Cheng can give Keith relief. Both also play on defense at linebacker.
The offensive line has experience with seniors Carter Sample and Mason Lentz. Junior Justin Densmore also started in the line. Candidates for the other two spots are Seaborn Chappell, Garret Rogers, Joby Helms, Sam Waters and Saxon Sample.
Senior Baker Wilson leads the receivers. Other players in the mix to be catching passes are Alex Malone, Tyler Founds and Preston Terry.
“We have guys who can run the football and guys who can catch the football,” Meek said. “We just need to be able to block.”
Experience should produce improvement on this side of the ball. Carter Sample is the play-caller on defense at his linebacker position. Rogers is a two-year starter in the line. Davis is solid at linebacker.
Eli Waldrep, Avery Hardy and Tyler Founds lead the defensive backfield. Founds had four interceptions last season.
Must see game
The fourth game on the schedule could have a lot riding on it. Decatur Heritage travels to R.A. Hubbard. The winner of that game on Sept. 13 will take a giant step forward in the battle for the region championship.
“It’s been awhile since we won a playoff game or had a home playoff game,” Meek said. “I think this team would like to change that and I think they can.”
— David Elwell