After the Valley Cubs finished atop Class 4A, Region 5 last season, rather than players taking some time to enjoy the feat, they turned up the intensity in the spring and summer to create an even better season this fall.
“I think we just have to work harder than we did last year,” senior defensive end Cole Burgess said. “Last season was tough at times, but this year we have more reasoning to work harder. You have to eat right, live right, show up to work and go hard.
“We want to win the region every year.”
The 2013 season will feature a much younger roster of players despite the Valley Cubs only losing nine seniors from last year. With only four starters on offense and five on defense back, Alexandria will also sport more than a handful of new starters on the field.
“We’ve got some young guys that’ll be starting for the first time this year so this season is kind of unknown,” Alexandria coach Frank Tucker said. “But we’ve got some good leaders and hopefully these seniors can help lead these sophomores and juniors to a good year.”
Leadership is what Tucker said led Alexandria to winning its first region championship since former coach Larry Ginn’s last season in 2006. Tucker said the team “had guys with big hearts” and added that it’s “not just a cliché.”
Offensively, leadership will be important with junior running back Alton Davis stepping up and sophomore Luke Tucker starting as a first-year quarterback. Although Davis saw the field frequently, Tucker is fresh and will look to gain experience in the fall.
“Any time you have a 10th-grade quarterback and every one I’ve had for 20 years has always made mistakes,” the coach said. “Luke will be just like anyone else. This year will be a huge learning experience and there’s no substitute for it.”
Fortunately for Tucker, he’ll have an improved offensive line. Senior athlete Gabe Marchel talked up the line, saying senior Ryan McCord and the linemen “are getting nasty in the weight room.”
Senior fullback and defensive tackle Deion Thomas added the whole team has been in the weight room “all summer killing it.”
After making the postseason the previous 11 seasons there little question to why Alexandria is known as the “School of Champions.” Now that the work from spring and summer has been put in, the Valley Cubs are itching to return to Lou Scales Stadium on Friday nights.
“I’m just looking forward to the whole season,” Marchel said. “It’s my senior year so I want to make it the best it can be. I’ve been waiting since spring football ended and our game got rained out at JSU.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star
Alexandria at a glance Head coach: Frank Tucker (43-25, 30-12 in region play, in six years at Alexandria)
2012 record: 6-5, including 6-1 in Class 4A, Region 5. Won the region championship. Lost in the first round of the playoffs to St. Clair County.
Outlook: The legacy of the School of Champions has continued its winning ways since Tucker took over in 2007. Adding a region championship last year, Tucker has led the Valley Cubs to the postseason every year as head coach. Alexandria replaces more than half its starters on offense and defense, but has numerous leaders who are looking to put the Valley Cubs back in the playoffs.
Aug. 30, vs. Etowah
Sept. 6, at Cherokee County
Sept. 13, vs. Hokes Bluff
Sept. 20, at Anniston
Sept. 27, at Saks
Oct. 4, vs. Munford
Oct. 11, vs. Cleburne County
Oct. 18, at Lincoln
Oct. 25, at Jacksonville
Nov. 1, vs. Leeds