Spotlight: Escambia Academy, 10/13/17
They sure are making a lot of noise at Escambia Academy.
In eight games this season, they really haven't been challenged. The toughest tests are still to come, but there is a lot to like about how they are growing the program in Canoe.
Part of Alabama's independent school system, the landscape is different at Escambia Academy. Kids coming in from surrounding areas is kind of the norm there.
Plus, the Cougars football program has become quite a draw.
Hugh Fountain has a lot to do with it. He spent 24 seasons as a head coach at public schools in Alabama with successful runs at Charles Henderson and his alma mater W.S. Neal.
In 2012, Fountain took on a new challenge at Escambia Academy and has greatly elevated the program, including a state championship in 2014.
Lots of athletes have signed up to play for him and it's easy to see why.
The Cougars landed a fresh influx of high impact transfers this season, including Neikel Robinson. Last year, while starring for Northview playing against Escambia Academy left a big impression.
The roster is now overflowing with playmakers, but they have embraced the mindset of sharing, not squabbling.
Louie Tuner is making his chances count. The senior running back leads the team in rushing, including a whopping 15 touchdowns. Plus, he tops in tackles playing linebacker.
Turner is high on talent, but that's not the only reason for his success.
Neikel leans on family for motivation, as well. He's making a big impact in Canoe, leading the team in reception and interceptions.
Neikel is following in the footsteps of his brothers, both standouts. Neiko, now a defensive back at South Alabama, and Neino, a basketball player at Pensacola State.
Jabe Dawe took over the starting quarterback job this season and is proving more than capable.
He's a junior, but for him, the opportunity has been a long-time coming.
The Cougars have been impressive on defense.
Coach Fountain calls the line the team's most improved area. They have some ballhawks in the secondary with Robinson and Fred Flavors, but the linebacker corp of Turner, Jamie Welker, and Jojo Carpenter is the bedrock on defense.
While things have been pretty flawless on the field, fortunes have not been so good off it.
A junior varsity coach, John Fields, recently had a stroke. Plus, beloeved running back coach Marty Long has been diagnosed with cancer. The players are well aware of his ongoing battle.