PREP NOTEBOOK: ACA sophomore Parker Dare hopes to play football again


Parker Dare, seriously injured in a game Sept. 28, has recovered and rejoined his teammates at practice. He said he has medical clearance to play if the Patriots make the playoffs. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter)


American Christian Academy sophomore Parker Dare and his coach, John Causey, believe in miracles.

Both used the term to describe Dare’s remarkable recovery from severe injuries he suffered on the football field. While making a tackle in the Sept. 28 game against Fultondale, Dare got caught in a collision of bodies and wound up with three broken ribs and a lacerated kidney. He was taken to a hospital in Northport and airlifted by helicopter to UAB Hospital in Birmingham. Doctors considered removing his kidney, but his condition began to stabilize. Dare was in pain for several days because of the broken ribs, but he wants to play football again.

If the Patriots can beat Sipsey Valley in Friday’s Class 3A, Region 3 game, Dare could be cleared to play in the first round of the AHSAA playoffs.

Dare joined his teammates for practice this week, although he was dressed in shorts and couldn’t participate in contact drills.

"I’m feeling a lot better than when it happened," said Dare, a 15-year-old wide receiver and defensive back.

"I’m just thankful to be out here again. I hope Friday we can come out with a victory so I can step on the field at least one more time this year. I’m cleared to play in the first round of the playoffs. It’s just a miracle of God."

Dare, an active teenager who planned to play basketball and baseball, said the tough part, aside from the pain, was being inactive while he recovered.

"All I was wishing was just to be back out on the football field, playing with my friends," he said.

Dare recalled that he "knew something was wrong" when he tried to stand after the play. He was taken to the Northport hospital at halftime.

During the helicopter ride Dare was thinking he wouldn’t be able to play football again.

"They had me on morphine to take most of the pain away," he said. "I was scared for my life."

The initial recovery time was estimated at six months, but Dare started getting some encouraging news by the following week. He got a warm reception when he returned to school.

"It was great," said Dare, who returned to practice last Thursday. "Everyone was just helping me out. They were just on my side, wishing me the best of luck to get better.

"I’m just trying to get back in shape; get back to catching balls and stuff. I know they’ve been working hard this week, and I think it’s going to show Friday night."

Dare said that if he does get to play he’ll wear extra padding to protect his torso.

Causey drove to Northport to check on Dare and then drove to Birmingham to see one of his players "flat on his back in intensive care at 3 o’clock in the morning."

"It was a long night," Causey said. "One of your fears as a coach is that you ask these young men to go out there and play a game that you know is very physical and there’s a chance of injury. When it happens, such as that, it keeps things in perspective. We could be 8-0 and I would still care more about the players and their well-being. The health and safety of them exceeds that stuff."

Causey said Dare provided his teammates with an emotional lift when he returned to practice.

"I got chills because he’s one of us," Causey said. "Watching him running around, it was a miracle. There’s no other way to describe it."

No. 5 Tigers vs. No. 2 Jackson

Tom Causey’s Demopolis Tigers have already surpassed last year’s victory total, and the Tigers are still in the hunt for the Class 5A, Region 3 championship.

Demopolis, 8-0 and ranked No. 5, travels to face Jackson (8-0) on Friday. The Aggies, led by former Leroy coach Danny Powell, are ranked No. 2. Powell coached Jackson to a 15-0 record and the Class 4A championship last year. Jackson averages 42.6 points per game and allows 10.5. Demopolis averages 38.8 points per game and allows 9.4.

"They’re one of the best football teams in the state in any classification," Causey said. "They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Coach Powell’s record speaks for itself. He’s been nothing but successful every year.

"We’re looking forward to the challenge. Come 10 o’clock Friday night both teams will know what they’re good at and what they’re bad at. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity. It will be a playoff atmosphere without the consequences of losing."

Both teams have qualified for playoff berths. Demopolis qualified last year but finished with a 6-5 record.

"You can’t have a really good football team or organization or whatever it is without leadership," Causey said. "The maturity level and leadership on this team is tremendous, and it’s not just the seniors. I think it means something to be in this position. Every one of our guys worked extremely hard. They were disappointed at being 6-5."

Quarterback Tucker Jones, a senior this year, broke his leg in the fifth game last season. Causey said Jones has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns and has rushed for more than 400 yards. Roderick Davis is a workhorse running back, and Causey said junior left tackle John Anthony Morrison and senior right tackle Jake Freeman are leaders on the offensive line.

On the defensive front, Lane Hawkins and Tyler Merriweather usually start at end with Tim Bonner fitting into the rotation. Kessy Bell and Hollis Bright start at tackle.

"Playing defense is so much effort and attitude," Causey said. "When you’re giving up less than 10 points per game, that’s a direct result of 11 guys working hard together."

AISA sets playoff pairings

Tuscaloosa Academy is one of four West Alabama football teams to qualify for the AISA playoffs.

The Knights won the Region 1 championship and earned a No. 1 seed in Class AAA. Tuscaloosa Academy plays at home Nov. 2, facing No. 4 seed Escambia Academy.

In Class A, Pickens Academy and Marengo Academy are scheduled to play at home in the quarterfinal round, and Sumter Academy will travel.

Pickens Academy, the No. 1 seed in Region 2, plays in Carrollton against No. 4 Lakeside. Marengo Academy, the No. 2 seed in Region 2, will face No. 3 Abbeville Christian Academy. Sumter Academy, the No. 3 seed in Region 2, is set to visit Ashford Academy.

The semifinal round will be Nov. 9 at campus sites. The championship games will be in Troy on Nov. 16. The Class AAA game will be at noon, followed by the Class A game at 3:30 p.m. and the Class AA game at 7.