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Preseason high school poll released

Five of the six state champions in the AHSAA in 2002 begin the 2003 prep football season right where they left off - ranked No. 1 in the state.

Four teams from Covington County received votes, but none of them made the Top 10. Straughn came closest to being ranked with 17 points. Red Level received 5 points in Class 2A. Opp and Andalusia both received points in Class 4A. Opp had 4 points and Andalusia had 2.

The Alabama Sportswriters Association has compiled and released the preseason rankings for the upcoming season with all but two-time defending 4A state champion UMS-Wright retaining their lofty perch earned at Legion Field last December.

North Jackson (14-1), which lost to the Bulldogs (14-1) in last year’s 4A Super Six finals 7-3, edged out UMS-Wright 185 to 183 while amassing nine first-place votes from the panel of 19 voters from across the state who participated in the first poll of 2003.  UMS-Wright had eight first-place votes while Trinity (13-1) and Deshler (11-2) each had one.

In Class 6A, defending champion Hoover (13-1) gathered 13 first-place votes and out-pointed No. 2 Prattville (12-2) by 41 points, 201-160.  Homewood (14-1), like Hoover, has reached three straight finals including last year’s 5A title game won by the Patriots 31-28 over Russellville.  Homewood ranks No. 1 in the 5A preseason rankings with 196 points and 12 first-place votes.  Briarwood (12-2) is second with 128 points. The Lions handed Homewood its only loss of the year in the regular season but lost 35-25 in the semifinals.

Other preseason leaders include, in Class 3A, T.R. Miller (11-3), in Class 2A, Southern Choctaw (14-0), and in Class 1A, Clay County (15-0). Bessemer Academy, 13-0 last season while winning the 3A state title, is ranked first in the AISA top 10.

In all, 162 schools received at least one vote in the preseason poll.