During every school year, there are a ton of great stories from the sports teams. Because it’s hard to narrow each school’s best moments and storylines down to just five, there’s also a list of honorable mentions. For Benjamin Russell, those include the following.
Golf team takes fourth at state
After finishing the first round of the Class 6A state tournament in second place, the Benjamin Russell golf team improved its overall score by one shot in the second round. However, it was not enough to hold on to the runner-up trophy. Homewood and Gulf Shores both jumped the Wildcats, who finished fourth.
As a team, the Wildcats finished 69-over par, six shots behind second-place Homewood and 42 shots behind state champion Muscle Shoals. Every team saw an improvement in its score from the first round at Prattville’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill.
“It played tough for everybody,” BRHS coach Wes Tate said. “There were several scores that were not common for these teams. It just played tough.”
Benjamin Russell made the final four for the second consecutive season after finishing third in the event last year. The Wildcats returned only two of their five starters but managed to find a way back with the help of the two more experienced golfers.
Wildcats retire Terrell Owens’ jersey number
Benjamin Russell did something unprecedented during its homecoming game against Chilton County in 2018.
But when you’ve got a guy like Terrell Owens — one of the greatest wide receivers in the history of the NFL and a Pro Football Hall of Famer — as one of your graduates, being unprecedented makes sense.
At the Wildcats’ game against the Tigers, Owens’ No. 80 jersey was retired, making him the first Benjamin Russell football player ever to have his jersey retired.
“To be here and to have my number retired, I never would’ve thought it in a million years,” Owens said. “To think about all the great athletes that have come through this school, I remember watching the high school (games) when the varsity used to play at Hamp Lyon Stadium. Even the guys that I played with, all these guys were all far better than I was athletically at the time.”
Softball team wins second straight area title
The first three times Benjamin Russell met Opelika on the softball diamond, the Wildcats came out on top but all three were fairly competitive games. The area championship game was a completely different story.
From the get-go, Benjamin Russell looked dominating and it never let up, winning a 17-0 three-inning affair to claim the Class 6A Area 6 championship. It was the Wildcats’ second area title in a row.
“Our past games playing them were really important, but this game, this was it,” Benjamin Russell senior Asia McWaters said. “We won our area tournament last year, and we didn’t expect anything less this year. So we really wanted to come out and we were excited to play. We knew we were going to win this one.”
With the victory, BRHS also punched its ticket to regionals and earned one of the top seeds.
“That’s big,” Wildcat coach Jessica Johnson said. “There for a while, we weren’t getting to host (the area tournament), much less winning it so to do that two years in a row, I think, is big. Everybody is on the same track and everybody seems to have a common goal.”
Jeremy Freeman named boys hoops coach
One of Jeremy Freeman’s dreams came true in March when he led the Central Coosa Cougars to the Class 2A boys basketball state championship.
Now, Freeman is getting to live out another one of his dreams: He’s coming home.
In mid-April, the Alexander City Board of Education approved the hiring of Freeman as the boys basketball coach at Benjamin Russell. Freeman is a 1992 graduate of BRHS and played for the Wildcats before joining his former rival as a member of the Coosa hoops staff in 1999.
“It’s been a real longtime dream to be able to do this,” Freeman said at the board meeting. “I’ve come a long way from playing here and graduating from here, and I’ve always looked back and said to myself, ‘That could be me.’ I patiently waited and always kept that in the back of my mind. I appreciate everyone trusting in me with this program and we’re going to move forward. We’re going to work hard.”
Freeman spent nearly two decades as an assistant coach of the Cougars before being named head coach of the varsity squad before the 2017 season. Since then, he has directed the Cougars to a 40-9 record, and he capped off his time at Coosa with the state championship.