Photo by Barry Burleson
Barrett Donahoe watches his team during spring practice.
MA opening season in Montgomery
Marshall Academy will start its 2017 football season 280 miles from home in the second annual Southeastern Commission of Independent Schools Kickoff Classic.
The event, held in Montgomery, Ala., at the Cramton Bowl, will be held August 11-12 and include teams from four states.
“This is a great thing for our Marshall Academy family and an experience our kids will never forget,” said Barrett Donahoe, headmaster at MA and also the head football coach.
The Kickoff Classic is a project of the Alabama Independent School Association, the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, the Georgia Independent School Association and the South Carolina Independent School Association.
“Last year, our association put the info out there to see who was interested,” Donahoe said. “We talked about it and put our name in the hat, but we were not selected.
“This year, they reached out to us, and we said yes.”
There will be 12 teams (six games). A tentative schedule of games has been released with the Patriots playing on Saturday.
Friday, Aug. 11
• 2:30 p.m., Frederica Academy of St. Simons Island, Ga., vs. Parklane Academy of McComb.
• 5 p.m., Terrell Academy of Dawson, Ga., vs. Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School of Darlington, S.C..
• 7:30 p.m., Bessemer Academy of Bessemer, Ala., vs. Lamar School of Meridian.
Saturday, Aug. 12
• 2:30 p.m., Autauga Academy of Prattville, Ala., vs. Valwood School of Hahira, Ga.
• 5 p.m., Brookwood School of Thomasville, Ga., vs. Marshall Academy of Holly Springs.
• 7:30 p.m., Escambia Academy of Atmore, Ala., vs. First Baptist School of Charleston, S.C.
“This was created for interassociation relations between the four states – to open up the lines of communication, build good relationships and give us the opportunity to interact with each other,” Donahoe said.
He said it is an honor and privilege for Marshall Academy to be able to participate in the SECIS Kickoff Classic.
“For our football players and cheerleaders, our families, all involved in the football program, this is a tremendous opportunity,” Donahoe said. “We will get to play in a nice stadium against a very good football team.”
Playing a full game a week earlier than usual and one that will count on the season record means stepping up the pre-season preparation from day one. MA starts practice July 24.
“We will get down to business quicker, with full conditioning and game-type preparations,” Donahoe said. “And that preparation and playing this game should give us an advantage as the early part of our season continues.”
He said the school will receive an allotment of tickets to sell which will help cover travel costs. Donahoe said it will be a day trip (about four and half hours) for the team, leaving the morning of Saturday, Aug. 12, and returning after the game.
He said he doesn’t know much yet about his opponent in the Kickoff Classic, the Brookwood School Warriors.
“I know last season, they dressed about 40 players in ninth through 12th grades,” Donahoe said.
Last season his Patriots lost in the Class AA state semi-finals and finished 9-4.
A good nucleus returns in 2017, and he said he likes the skill level and work ethic of this year’s team.
“I know Brookwood will be a very talented football team, and we’re looking forward to the challenge,” Donahoe said.