Alan Scott has established an exciting brand of football at Good Hope.
The Raiders are 19-5 over the past two years – advancing to consecutive postseasons – and anticipation is high in 2020 for another intriguing march, mainly because of Good Hope’s experience on both sides of the ball.
“We have guys returning who have played big roles the last two seasons,” said Scott, who’s entering his sixth season with the Raiders. “On paper, it looks good, but each year carries its own challenges. Top to bottom, we do have leadership at multiple positions. It’s ultimately a matter of producing on Friday nights.”
Among the early challenges has been adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think every team has been forced to adjust in some fashion,” Scott said. “We had virtual workouts during the spring, and that was new. I think a big part of this season will be how teams have managed the adversity. We’ve had great leadership through it. These guys are itching to play, and we’re thankful that the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and Steve Savarese have given these guys a chance to play.”
Good Hope’s offense has served as a steady force the past two seasons, averaging 28.9 points per game last year and 34 points per game in 2018.
The Raiders hope to be equally dynamic this season, especially with the return of junior Tanner Malin at quarterback and senior Colton Bagwell at tailback.
Malin accounted for 2,044 yards of total offense and 23 touchdowns under center last season, earning him Class 4A All-State recognition (second-team athlete) and an invite to last month’s Football University (FBU) Top Gun Showcase in Naples, Fla.
“Both Tanner and Colton have worked very hard this offseason,” Scott said. “The sky’s the limit for Tanner as a quarterback and athlete, and he’s such a great competitor. Colton has already carved out a great Good Hope career, playing a pivotal role for us the past three seasons. He’s one of our top senior leaders.”
Seniors Cody Dye, Jackson Dillashaw, Doston Putman, and junior Morgan Cook anchor a seasoned offensive line.
“No matter what level, the press is always given to the guys who throw or run the ball, but it’s what’s up front that makes you go,” Scott said. “Every year, we tell our offensive line that the game will be dictated by their effort and ability. We’re excited about the experience we have up front.”
Scott added that Jager Burns and Ethan A. Anderson should also be significant contributors at the skill positions.
Good Hope’s defensive unit has also been stout during this past two-year stretch, yielding only 16 points per game in 2018 and 22.2 points per game a season ago.
The Raiders have familiar faces returning at each wave of the defense.
Seniors Lucas Hill and Eli Pugh, and junior Clayton Herring will play valuable roles on the defensive front, while seniors Jared Pugh and Will Flynt, and junior Jake Kicker make up a deep linebacker group.
Senior Jesse Blackmon and junior Paydon Bagwell highlight Good Hope’s secondary.
"I feel like our defense has a lot to prove," Scott said. "We gave up too many big plays last year and weren't able to get the football back to our offense at times. The keys for us this year will be to align properly, give great effort to the football and tackle well."
Good Hope will turn to Malin at punter again this season.
Scott said the team is narrowing down its contenders at kicker.
If Good Hope secures a third straight Class 4A postseason appearance, it will once again be well-earned.
The Raiders move to a revamped Region 6 and have no region opponent from last year on its 2020 schedule. Instead, their region foes consist of Ashville, Hanceville, Etowah, Fultondale, Dora and Oneonta.
The Raiders have never played Ashville or Etowah and, with the exception of Hanceville, have limited histories against their region competitors. Oneonta has eliminated Good Hope from the postseason the last two years.
“In general, I believe 4A is very tough this year,” Scott said. “If you look at any region in the north, you won’t see any drop-off. Our region is no different. It’s going to be a challenge every week. All of these teams are well-coached.”
Despite the tough region slate, the Raiders have the personnel and intangibles to add more fun – and wins – to the brand.
“Our experience will be our biggest strength. Our guys have played in a lot of big games the past two seasons,” Scott said. “We’ve faced off against quality opponents and know that it takes four quarters of your best football to compete. Hopefully we can do that each week.”