The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 31, 2012

Top Limestone sports stories of 2012

By Jonathan Deal
jonathan@athensnews-courier.com

— To say that history repeats itself wouldn’t be totally accurate, but many of the top sports headlines in Limestone County in 2012 reflect themes from the previous year. Tanner for instance dominated 2011 by becoming the first school in AHSAA history to win a boys and girls state championship in the same year.

Earlier this month, the Rattlers put a stamp on a remarkable run by winning the school’s first football championship. Tanner fell just short of winning its first football trophy last year when the Rattlers lost in their first championship game appearance.

Former Limestone County football players had a hand in winning both the BCS college football championship and the Super Bowl in 2012. Athens standouts Alfred McCulloch, William Ming and Rob Ezell helped Alabama wins its second national championship in three years. A month later Elkmont graduate Michael Boley started at linebacker for the Super Bowl winning New York Giants.

While no Limestone County basketball teams made the state tournament, the county was well represented at the regional tournament held at Wallace State. West Limestone boys team beat Priceville in their opening game to reach the school’s first regional championship only to fall just short against No. 1 Butler. Athens boys team also experienced a remarkable run making it to the regional final. The state took notice too, naming Stace Tedford as the Alabama 5A Boys Coach of the Year.

Athens girls soccer dominated the headlines in May by making it to the 5A state championship game after five previous losses in the semifinals. Athens fell just short in a loss to Chelsea.

East Limestone made headlines in 2011 for having most of its baseball and softball fields destroyed by tornadoes. In 2012, the school is making headlines for repairing those fields and making them better than before.

Another continuing theme from 2011 is Elkmont athlete Rhett Bailey who beat all the odds by overcoming cancer and returning to the football field after being told he would never play again. Bailey caught a touchdown pass in his first play in more than two years.

Athens Bible girls teams were busy making runs at state in both softball and volleyball while Ardmore’s golf team qualified for state for the first time in school history to round out the top 12 sports stories of 2012.