For the first time in their high school football coaching careers, bothers Chris and Charles Hammon enter a game not rooting for the other to win.
Section, coached by Chris Hammon, travels to take on Charles Hammon’s Valley Head Tigers in a non-region matchup Friday night at Valley Head High School.
It’s the first time the brothers, who once served together on the same staff at Valley Head, have coached against one another.
“It’s the only week I won’t pull for him,” said Chris Hammon, the younger brother by three years. “It’s going to feel a little strange.”
Friday’s game is the 28th between Section and Valley Head in a series Section leads 19-8. The Lions, winners of five straight in the series, won last year’s matchup 19-14, giving Chris Hammon a victory over his alma mater.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say this is a special game to me, and that was even before you throw my brother in (becoming the Valley Head head coach),” Chris Hammon said. “But that won’t be a distraction. At the end of it, you have to treat it like a normal game and make sure we’re prepared to go and try to win a ball game.”
Charles Hammon served as the head coach at Valley Head from 2001-04 before coaching in Georgia, including head-coaching stints at Dade County (Georgia) and Chattooga (Georgia). He started his second head-coaching tenure at Valley Head just 15 days ago, a late hire after then Valley Head coach Heath Vincent took a principal job in the Fort Payne School System.
Charles Hammon’s hiring came just 10 days before the Tigers’ season opener, a 40-18 loss to Ragland last Friday.
“He only had 10 days before they had to play and they still played pretty well. They kind of ran out of gas there late,” Chris Hammon said. “It’s better to play them early than late because they’ve got a good football team that’s only going to get better the more time they get together.”
Eian Bain and Ashton Brown led the Tigers’ rushing attack, rushing for 144 yards and 122 yards respectively and all three Valley Head touchdowns.
“They play smash-mouth football,” Chris Hammon said of Valley Head. “They’re very big up front and physical and they’ve got speed in the backfield.”
Chris Hammon said both teams play with similar styles, and that there aren’t many secrets between the head coaches.
“Unless he decides to change everything this week, we know what the other is going to want to do,” Chris Hammon said. “It’s just going to come down to (which team) goes out there and executes the best.”
Section is looking for its first 2-0 start since 2013. The Lions rolled past host Collinsville 34-6 last Friday for its first season-opening win since 2018.
The Lions ran for nearly 400 yards while its defense pitched a shutout until late in the game.
“We showed our potential,” Chris Hammon said. “Collinsville is a good (Class) 3A football team, so it was a good quality win. We had some mistakes and miscues we’ve got to clean up, but the blocking was good, our effort was good, defensively we were good. We left some points out there, had some scoring opportunities we let get away. We got a little tired so we’ve got to keep getting in better shape. But we played hard and physical, made some big plays, so that was good to see. We can’t get happy. We’ve got to continue to be hungry every week.”