FYFFE — Class 2A football’s team of the decade from 2010-19 will begin the new decade in Class 3A.
Fyffe moved up in the AHSAA’s reclassification for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. It’s the first time Fyffe has been a 3A program.
Head coach Paul Benefield guided the Red Devils to a 128-9 record, eight region championships and four state titles in the 2010s. Each state championship team finished 15-0.
Fyffe completed its decade of dominance by crushing Reeltown 56-7 in the 2A Super 7 on Dec. 5 at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Red Devils won back-to-back 2A crowns in 2018 and 2019 and will take a school-record 30-game winning streak into the 2020 season.
“Fyffe has never been a 3A,” Benefield said. “We’ve been flirting with 3A the last two counts. We’ve been just right on the borderline, so we knew it was a possibility but nothing for sure.”
Fyffe will compete in 3A, Region 7 against Asbury, Geraldine, Collinsville, Plainview, Sylvania and Brindlee Mountain. Asbury and Collinsville joined the Red Devils in moving up from 2A, Region 8.
The Red Devils’ 2020 schedule is:
Aug. 21, Isabella
Aug. 28, at Fellowship Christian (Roswell, Georgia)
Sept. 4, at Collinsville
Sept. 11, Sylvania
Sept. 18, at Brindlee Mountain
Sept. 25, open
Oct. 2, at Plainview
Oct. 9, at North Sand Mountain
Oct. 16, Geraldine
Oct. 23, Asbury
Oct. 30, Scottsboro
“We were afraid we would struggle on the nonregion games, and of course, we did,” Benefield said of the difficulty in finding four opponents to complete Fyffe’s schedule.
“Isabella was a quarterfinal team in 1A. They lost to [state champion] Lanett. They were 12-1.
“Fellowship Christian is a private, single A school in Georgia, which is about the size of a 4A in Alabama. They’ve got 400 kids in the top three or four grades.
“They’re a top-notch, quality program and didn’t lose any seniors last year. I think they got beat in the semifinals. That’s going to be a tough task.”
Fellowship Christian finished with a 12-1 record in 2019. The Paladins won all 10 regular-season games by at least 22 points and averaged more than 45 points per game.
Fyffe and North Sand Mountain were 2A, Region 8 opponents, and the Bison agreed to play the Red Devils in 2020 after both teams drew the same week for a nonregion game. NSM remains a 2A under the new reclassification.
Scottsboro reclassified to 6A for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The Red Devils and Scottsboro have never met on the gridiron.
“I talked to Coach [Adam] Gilbert [a Scottsboro assistant] and just mentioned to him we had several open dates, and told him to tell [Head] Coach [Don] Jacobs,” Benefield said. “So in about three or four days he texted me, and we just went ahead and said yes there in that date. I got 10 games, and I was just proud to.
“Our kids are looking forward to the challenge. We know there’s better [3A] teams all across the state … there’ll be more better teams because they’re bigger schools. We probably won’t stay 3A but two years, but that’s where it landed so that’s what we’ll do and do the best we can.
“These guys we’ve got coming back will compete against any level. I ain’t saying we can beat everybody, but we’ll compete if we stay healthy.”
Talking to “Coach O”
Monday morning, Benefield received a call from a staff member of LSU football, telling him to expect a call from Tommie Robinson, LSU’s assistant head coach, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.
“Coach Robinson called, just congratulating us for the state championship and asked how everything was going,” Benefield said. “Then he said Coach [Ed] Orgeron wants to talk to you, wants to congratulate you. And I said, ‘Shoot yeah, put him on.’ I like him, and we always watch his interviews.
“Coach Orgeron talked to me a couple minutes there, and that was pretty awesome. That made my day.
“He wasn’t recruiting nobody or me. They’ve got it all over Facebook he was wanting me to coach. He just called to congratulate us on the win and the program.
“That’s pretty special for a guy that’s preparing for a national championship to call you, because his time is valuable just like everybody else’s. I thought that was a big deal and our kids really enjoyed that. You know, he might have recruited him some LSU guys.
“I’m sure every team that won the state, he probably called to touch base with every one of them. I’ve never had a call from any SEC school like that. [Auburn] Coach [Gus] Malzahn has always sent letters and stuff.”