On Thursday, March 18, 2021, the Scottsboro Board of Education voted unanimously to approve defending 7A coach of the Year, Cris Bell to be the school’s new head football coach. Bell will be leaving Oak Mountain High School, where he held the same position for nine seasons, posting a 47-49 record in that time. Bell will replace Don Jacobs, who resigned from his position as the head coach of the Wildcats in January.
This vacancy at Oak Mountain will now be the third head coaching vacancy at a 7A Region 3 school this offseason, with Vestavia Hills and Tuscaloosa County each replacing coaches. Oak Mountain is in a tough spot, as spring football is gearing up in the next few weeks, and already play in the toughest region in the state.
The Eagles went 6-4 in 2020, coming up just inches short of upsetting Hoover in the AHSAA quarterfinals after defeating Austin High School in the First Round. The Eagles return one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 class in Evan Smith, who can run faster than most wideouts. Smith has recently picked up numerous scholarship offers, from Duke, Harvard, and Yale to play football. Smith was part of Oak Mountain’s state championship team in basketball.
In addition to Smith, the Eagles have weapons on the offensive side of the ball, returning Cade George at Running Back, an All-State Track athlete. Oak Mountain will be young at wide receiver, as they graduate three pass catchers from an offense that only passed the ball three times a game. Three of five starters return on the offensive line.
Defensively, Oak Mountain loses many backs, but return most of the line, including Gavin Nelson, who had four sacks in Oak Mountain’s playoff victory over Austin. At linebacker, Oak Mountain returns Cameron Atkinson, who also had a big playoff run. Both Nelson and Atkinson are also basketball players.
Whoever the Eagles hire to be the next leader of the program will have their hands full. Oak Mountain plays in Class 7A, Region 3, along with defending state champion Thompson, as well as Hoover, Hewitt-Trussville, Vestavia Hills, Spain Park, Tuscaloosa County, and Gadsden City.