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franklin county times

Belgreen High School makes history this week 



It may just be a preseason game. It may just be junior high and junior varsity children. No matter the circumstances, Belgreen will make history Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at Shoals Christian when they take the field for their first football game in decades.

Under AHSAA rules, Belgreen can’t field a varsity team for two years. For the next two years, the Bulldogs will be learning to play the game and compete in a sport they are not accustomed to playing.

In the spring, Belgreen hired Luke Tucker to lead the startup program; however, Tucker left the Bulldogs abruptly after taking a job with his brother, Lance Tucker, at Demopolis.

One door closed, and another door opened. Jonathan Raper was ending a long and successful run as baseball coach at Phil Campbell High School. With his youngest son graduating, Raper was ready to give up the baseball job so he could watch both of his sons play college baseball. The Belgreen football job seemed like the perfect opportunity and the right timing.

“It’s been wild and crazy,” said Raper. “Just the little things that go with starting a program. There are so many things that have to be done. I’ve been fortunate to have some great help.”

Raper said the students are excited and ready to play the game.

“They are ready to see someone different,” Raper explained. “They are ready to see what the game is about. Because of the age gaps with our kids, it’s hard to have a full-blown scrimmage.”

Both Franklin County Superintendent of Education Greg Hamilton and Belgreen principal Megean Berryman have children playing football, so they get to see this moment from different vantage points.

“Friday will be an exciting time for the school and community,” said Hamilton. “Being able to field a football team at Belgreen brings so many opportunities for the students – not only for the players, but also for the cheerleaders and, hopefully, band members one day. As superintendent, I am very thankful that Belgreen student athletes will be able to play football. Franklin County Schools continue to look at ways to get as many students involved in extracurricular activities as possible.

As a parent, I am happy that my son will be able to compete in another sport. To steal a line from one of the greatest coaches in college football history, Nick Saban, I think kids should compete in every sport they can.”
Berryman echoed Hamilton’s sentiments.

“As a principal and a parent, it is very exciting,” said Berryman. “Football season is something that these students and this community have not been a part of, and I think football is a big part of school spirit and school pride. They have had that pride with basketball, and basketball has always been strongly supported. I believe football will be the same way. I would like to thank Mr. Hamilton for all of the work and time he has put in to make this happen, and a huge thank you to the donor for making this a reality! I can’t wait to see the Bulldogs take the field!”

No matter how the first season goes for the Bulldogs, history will be made and a foundation will be laid for future generations of Belgreen students. Next year, more history will be made when they play their first game on their own artificial turf field currently under construction.

Belgreen opens their regular season at Cherokee on August 29.

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