TIGERS FIRST YEAR HEAD COACH EARNS FNN'S HIGHEST HONOR FOR THE 2017 SEASON


Ted Darby sat at the table at the 2017 Talladega County Media Day event and sternly said, "Losing Is Not An Option."


Most everyone in the room thought, "Sure, we've heard this before."


And why not...the Tigers had been a non-factor on the football front for twenty years.  The Tigers hadn't made it into the postseason since 1995.  Since that playoff run in 95', Talladega had failed to win more than three games in a season....twenty-one of them in a row.


Now, here comes this tough-talking guy who's only head coaching experience was a year at Fayetteville seventeen years ago during which his team didn't win a single game, and he's telling us "Losing Is Not An Option!".  Yeah, right?


"You know, it's funny the effect coaches have on you," says FNN's Jim Jacobs.


"I had lunch with Coach Darby in August prior to season's start and I left thinking there was something special about him.  But, how on earth could him, or anybody else for that matter, turn around a program that had been SO BAD for SO LONG?"


For the 2017 season, Talladega was still 5A, and still in the region with powerhouse teams from Beauregard, Central-Clay County and Sylacauga.  Not a chance, right?


The Tigers opened their 2017 season with a 37-0 shutout loss at Alexandria, then it started to happen.  The turnaround nobody thought possible started showing life.   Talladega opened at home with a win over cross-town rival Talladega County Central, then they picked up a 10 point region road win at Cleburne County.  


The game that probably put the Tigers into playoff contention happened at Mary Dumas on September 15th (Week 3) when Talladega earned a tough 37-34 win over Lincoln.  Following that night, it was pretty clear what had to happen for the unthinkable to become reality.  Talladega had a real shot at postseason play.


A road loss at Beauregard, a home win over Walter Wellborn and a loss at Sylacauga left the table set.  It would all come down to one night on the road at Valley.  Yes, Valley, at just 2-6, but still, the Tigers had to go take their place at the playoff table if they wanted it.


It was a tough game...but Ted Darby's Tigers boarded the team bus back to Talladega with a ticket into November in their pockets with a 14-7 win.  The long twenty-one-year curse was finally over


Talladega would go on to lose at home to Central-Clay County and close out the regular season with a road win at Winterboro to finish out the regular season 6-4 with a 4th place finish in 5A-Region 4, earning them a first-round road trip to Carroll, a game they would eventually lose 12-6, but the folks down in Ozark knew Darby's kids were in town!


So how do we name a coach that went 6-5 our 2017 COACH OF THE YEAR?  


Certainly, from a win/loss record and postseason results standpoint, there were others that deserved serious consideration.  Pat Prestridge and Randolph County made it all the way to the finals after a huge redemption win against two-time defending 3A state champ Piedmont at The Field of Champions.  Ryan Herring lead Oxford to its second undefeated regular season in a row and deep into the 6A playoffs.  Jonathan Miller's Saks Wildcats ran off thirteen wins in a row, a team record.  There are always contenders for this honour every season.  But in the end, there can only be one FNN COACH OF THE YEAR.


For 2017, that honour belongs to Talladega head coach Ted Darby.  What Darby's team accomplished over last fall wasn't as much about winning and losing football games.  It turned into something much bigger.  It was about restoring life into something that had frankly been dead for a long time.  A program was reborn and a city started to care about it again.  As the season progressed, you could see and feel the sense of pride that winning brings to a community.  It was in the air in Talladega, and it felt darn good.


Darby joins a growing list of area coaches that FNN has honoured for their performance during a season of play.  Jeff Smith/Walter Wellborn (2012), Will Wagnon/Munford (2013), Lee Ozmint/Glencoe (2014), Keith Etheredge/Leeds (2015) and Scott Martin/Ohatchee (2016).


History won't look back on the 2017 Talladega football season as anything spectacular...but for those of us that lived through it, each week silently pulling for Talladega to keep winning and shed that "losers" tag, it was a special time.


Congratulations Coach Darby on your selection as the 2017 FNN High School Football Coach of the Year.


FNN will officially present Coach Darby with the 2017 Coach of the Year Award during pre-game ceremonies at the season-opening game against Alexandria on Thursday, August 23rd at Mary Dumas Stadium.  FNN will televise the game as our season-opener for 2018.

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ALEXANDRIA AT TALLADEGA ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 23RD KICKS OFF FNN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL LIVE GAME COVERAGE FOR 2018 SEASON


The Friday Night Network returns to Mary Dumas Stadium for the first time in two years to kick off our 7th season of live streaming local high school football games.


It should be quite a night as Alexandria begins the next chapter in the "Ginn Era" out in the valley as Todd Ginn takes over as the Valley Cubs' head coach.


"Everyone in this part of Alabama knows of the legacy of Larry Ginn, and now, Todd, his son, steps in to take over.  There's a lot of anticipation in Alexandria for this and it's going to be exciting for us to bring everyone his first game at the helm of the Cubs," said FNN Executive Producer, Jim Jacobs.


While this will be a big night for Alexandria fans, it's also a big night for Talladega's Ted Darby as prior to kickoff, he'll be presented with FNN's 2017 Coach Of The Year award.


"Our Coach of the Year Award is the highest honor we give an individual each season.  Coach Darby had an amazing run last year, resurrecting the Talladega football program and returning the Tigers to the playoffs for the first time since 1995.  What Darby and that team did energized the Talladega community once again for high school football.  It was something special to watch, " added Jacobs


FNN will have a second game on Friday to cap off the Week 0 double-header to kick off the season.  That game will be announced soon.  The Network anticipates live streaming a schedule of 18-20 games once again this fall. 

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​Coming up this week on SOUTHERN LEGACY WRESTLING on FNN see Devine Swagger faces off against Team Redeemed, Johnny Kaos battles Julius Pryor, The Syrian Assassin meets Sean Nelson and Jeremy Foster, Kavron Kanyon and Scott Cannon meet in three-man tag action against Steven Michaels and The Nasty Kritters.

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