Area athletes will continue playing at Division III level


Trey O’Bryant isn’t getting an athletic scholarship as such, but he is getting a chance to play soccer in college.

O’Bryant, a two-year member of the boys varsity team at Northridge High School, plans to play for the Birmingham-Southern Panthers.

An NCAA Division III school, Birmingham-Southern College does not offer athletic scholarships, but it does offer an opportunity for athletics and education.

Micaela Beck is also heading to Birmingham-Southern. Beck played second base for the Winfield Lady Pirates, who won their first AHSAA Class 3A softball title.

Gillie Jacobi of Tuscaloosa Academy chose to play softball at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Tuscaloosa County soccer teammates Elliot Webb and John Keeling will be heading to Montgomery to play for Huntingdon College.

Ahmad Bennett of Greensboro is going to Huntingdon to play football.

O’Bryant scored 68 goals in three years to rank 12th among the career scorers listed on the AHSAA website. He had 23 goals and 11 assists during his senior season, helping the Jaguars (15-2-1) reach the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.

“Trey is an interesting player because he started with Holy Spirit (Catholic) High School,” Northridge coach Carter Hill said. “When he transferred, he had to sit out one year and then play his final two years here at Northridge. He was able to get those 68 goals in only three seasons of high school boys soccer.

“There were one or two matches that towards the end of the match we were either behind by one or tied, and he literally willed us to win a match. He’s done an excellent job for us. He’s generally a left-footed player, but he can use both feet very well. He also does a good of distributing the ball, and he’s a competitor.”

Beck was a member of the Class 3A All-Tournament team, and Winfield won the championship by going 4-0 at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park. Two of the wins were against Pisgah, which won the title last year as Winfield finished second.

Beck set a single-season school record with 17 home runs. She went to Montgomery with 14 and hit three while driving in five runs in a 7-0 victory over White Plains. She finished the season with a .485 batting average and 59 RBIs.

“You couldn’t for anything else,” Winfield coach Zach Nix said.

Nix said first baseman Sam Riley has signed a scholarship to play for Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, and outfielder Emma Atkinson has accepted an academic scholarship to attend Auburn University.

Jacobi, an infielder, helped Tuscaloosa Academy reach the AISA Class AAA Tournament in Montgomery. She was named to the All-Tournament team and the AISA All-Star team.

She has received a Schubert Scholarship for academics and plans to study zoology.

Jacobi started playing for the Tuscaloosa Academy varsity as a sixth-grader. She played second base as a junior and shortstop as a senior.

“Her family is from the Midwest, I think up near Chicago,” Tuscaloosa Academy coach Melanna Wray said. “She’s kind of a Blackhawks (NHL) fan. She was trying to go somewhere like this.

“I believe it will be a good fit for her. She likes the coaches and just had good things to say about the softball team and the feeling she got about that. She doesn’t mind being a little independent, and moving that far away from home will be a new challenge for her.”

Jacobi hit first or second in the batting order and compiled a .318 batting average with 29 runs, 35 hits and 24 steals. She had 11 doubles, three triples and 15 RBI.

“She’s the kind of player who’s going to give you everything she’s got,” Wray said.

Webb, a three-year soccer player at TCHS, was a team captain. He was mostly a defensive player as a center back, but he had six goals and four assists.

“I’m proud of him,” TCHS coach Calvin Summers said. “He’s a good player with a great attitude and a good work ethic.”

Keeling, a four-year player for the Wildcats, manned a forward position as a senior. He had a team-high 23 goals and recorded five assists to help TCHS reach the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.

“They are both really good players,” Summers said. “Elliot has probably got a better overall work ethic, while John is probably more talented. I think they’ll both be good for the Huntingdon program.”

Bennett, a running back, had a broken kneecap and torn knee ligaments last fall, but he recovered in time to participate in track. In the AHSAA Class 3A outdoor championships, he set a school record by winning the triple jump at 45 feet, 73⁄4 inches, which was less than 2 feet short of the state record. He was third in the long jump at 20-103⁄4.

During the sectional meet, he won the javelin, the long jump and the triple jump and placed fifth in the shot put. He scored 34 of the Raiders’ 169 points and was named the Most Outstanding Athlete.

Bennett was a member of the Greensboro track teams that won AHSAA titles in 2011 and 2012.

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.