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Coming together: Gadsden City consolidates middle school football teams

The City of Champions.

That’s the slogan used on the welcome signs when entering Gadsden.

But it’s been a long time since the city has seen a championship in high school athletics.

Gadsden City football coach Ali Smith was part of the last one. He won a state championship in basketball under legendary Emma Sansom coach George Baker in 1992. The last football team to win a state title? Gadsden High in 1991.

“That’s what we need to get back to,” Smith said.

How does Gadsden City High School do that? It starts by bringing Emma Sansom, Gadsden and Litchfield Middle School football teams together as one, which started this year.

Crucial years of development

Gadsden City runs onto the field prior to its middle school football game against Etowah at Titan Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020.

There are a number of reasons for consolidating the middle school teams.

One is simply for development. Some of the middle schools have few players, which means players are having to play positions they will not play once they reach high school.

“A lot of times in middle school, we may have kids playing positions that they play out of necessity,” Gadsden City Schools’ Director of Operations Keith Blackwell, who has been a key part of getting this started, said. “You may have someone who is a cornerback or safety playing quarterback because they just need him to play quarterback.”