Traditions are an important part of every community and for the most part help bring a sense of pride.

Every school tends to have one, or in some cases several that are passed down through generations. For Athens High, that one of several includes the annual match up with Decatur.

Up until three years ago, Athens always opened the football season with a game against the Red Raiders, but because Decatur dropped from Class 6A to 5A — due to changes made by the Alabama High School Athletic Association in 2006 — it forced the rivalry to be moved to the middle of the season. Now, with realignments that took place in 2008, Decatur is back in Class 6A. But, because of scheduling issues, the Golden Eagles and the Red Raiders haven’t been able to carry on the rich tradition of playing during the regular season. Last year marked the first time in 80 years the two teams haven’t met on the playing field. And with the AHSAA Central Board having recently voted to extend the region playoff format through 2012, it looks like it could be a few more years before the regular season tradition is restored, though both coaches hope that’s not the case.

“It doesn’t really matter to me whether we have region play or area play,” Athens High coach Allen Creasy said during an interview at the end of July. “The only thing I hope changes is that the region play will allow us to play Decatur again. As long as we can play our traditional rivals, whether it’s region play or area play, it doesn’t matter to me. I want to be able to play Decatur. I know our players do, I know our community does and I know Decatur wants it too. They reassured us at the last meeting that we attended that they were going to take care of that and that we’re going to be able to play those rival games.”

While Decatur High head coach Jere Adcock said that’s out of the coaches’ control, he would like to see it back as the opening date.

“I would love to get it back on the opening date because if this would have been the real deal, the stands would have been full,” Adcock said. “I was very disappointed in the crowd. It’s disappointing because you know every kid is going to get to play and that everybody could come out and watch every kid get a chance to play, and you don’t get a bigger crowd than that.”

Adcock added that because it was just a preseason jamboree, it had a fun factor.

“The fun thing about this one, you play and there’s a score but it doesn’t count,” Adcock said. “Until next week, we’re both 0-0.”

Both Creasy and Adcock have a lot of respect for each other’s programs and regardless of when the game is played, Adcock said he just enjoys the fellowship.

“Our kids have a lot of respect for Athens and their program,” Adcock said. “And our coaches, we’re all good friends. We have respect for each other, so it’s one of those things where you just enjoy playing each other. I’d love to be playing during the regular season, but it’s one of those things where you enjoy each other, sharing with each other, talking and spending a lot of time together.

“There aren’t a lot of secrets,” he continued. “There’s a lot of good coaches up here and they respect each other, it’s just a matter of we’re going to coach hard and some nights you’re not going to come out good and some nights you are, but it’s a lot of respect for each other.”

Adcock added that he’s seen that respect carry over to the players.

“It was amazing when we were coming off the field, how many of the Athens guys were talking to our bunch of guys,” Adcock said. “I saw that and thought, ‘Man, that’s good.’”

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