Elba, AL - The scoreboard at Elba’s Miller Memorial Stadium (aka Foggy Bottom) is once again lit up as football is played in the old stadium.
This time, however, it’s not a State Championship winning Elba Tigers team or even youth football, as in years past, it’s the semi-pro football team Alabama Tigers.
The Alabama Tigers are members of the Amateur to Professional Developmental Football League (APDFL), a non-profit football league designed to showcase 18-30 year old former high school and college football stars.
The goal of the league is to showcase these former high school athletes and to hopefully earn the players a second chance at gridiron glory, whether that be with a college scholarship or even a chance to play professionally for the Arena Football League or NFL.
“We have a lot of talented guys (in this area) that for whatever reason didn’t get a chance to go to college, whether it was grades or attitude issues,” Alabama Tigers owner Marie Martin said. “They’re exceptional athletes and we believe that they deserve a second chance to be seen by (four year) colleges, junior colleges, Arena Football Teams or even the NFL.”
The players on the current Alabama Tigers team feature a number of Wiregrass stars, including players from Opp, Enterprise, Elba, New Brockton, Daleville, Eufaula, Dothan, and Ozark.
Former Enterprise standouts Timothy Stinson and Michael Terry are now Tigers, as well as former Elba star Aquante Jones and New Brockton lineman Josh Senn.
Former Opp athlete Adrian Austin, who currently works as a personal trainer at Enterprise’s Planet Fitness, is the Tigers starting quarterback.
Austin threw two touchdown passes in Alabama’s 32-0 win over the Arkansas Steelers on April 7.
Another standout for the Tigers is former Houston County player Desmond Warren, who plays linebacker, defensive tackle, running back, defensive back and even some quarterback with the Tigers.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 215-pound Warren earned a scholarship to UAB out of high school after being named Class 2A’s Player of the Year in his senior season. Warren eventually left UAB but his future will likely involve professional football.
Martin said that Warren has already earned professional tryouts and if his performance against Arkansas last Saturday is any indication, it is likely just a matter of time before he is on a professional roster.
Another member of the Tigers, Kendrick Davis, already has Arena Football experience and is currently an assistant coach at his alma mater, Barbour County.
Getting these players more exposure is what the Alabama Tigers is all about, according to Martin.
“The major goal for the team is to get as many of these guys as I can recognized and to keep them off the streets and safe,” Martin said. “I want to show our community that there is a group of young people willing to help the community and help each other.”
Members of the Alabama Tigers have regularly visited local nursing homes and have also helped with reading programs at area schools.
Martin said that she got involved with the Alabama Tigers originally to help out as a nurse, her day job, before coming on board to help as general manager and owner as the Tigers moved to Elba.
“I love it,” Martin said of her experience. “I’ve had people ask me if I was afraid being around all these guys but I tell them that I’m safer than even the president because these guys would never let anything happen to me.
“My experience with these guys has been awesome! Watching these guys, that may have had attitude problems and were constantly fighting come together and work as a team.”
The Alabama Tigers will be back at Foggy Bottom on April 14 at 5 p.m. to face the Alabama Blackhawks out of Birmingham, AL during what is expected to be a special day for the Tigers.
Along with the game, the Alabama Tigers are hosting a charity for Wicksburg native 16-year Cheyanne Edmondson, who is currently in a battle with a rare bone cancer called Ewing Sarcoma.
“Ride with the Tigers Day” will feature a motorcycle ride and charity event in honor of Edmondson. The Tigers have invited bikers from all over the state to attend and be apart of the event.
Following the ride, the Tigers will play host to the Blackhawks and will also feature music, games, and concessions.
Registration for the motorcycle ride begins at noon on April 14 and the ride begins at 1 p.m. Registration is $10 per bike and $5 per passenger. Donations will also be accepted and all proceeds go to help Edmondson fight against cancer.
*article reposted from The Southeast Sun.