Photo | Submitted

One of the largest alligators taken during the 2018 season was a 12-foot, 537-pounder taken by (from left) Tyler Dees, Thomas Dees, Mike Odom and Crystal Dees.

The 2018 season for alligators is in the books. Alabama hunters harvested 144 alligators, the heaviest weighing in at 700 pounds. A total of 260 tags were issued in the four hunting zones.

The Southwest Zone, which includes the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, checked in 96 alligators. Josh Forbes of Mobile County recorded the heaviest catch at 603 pounds. The longest gator was a 12-foot, 9-incher taken by Donald White of Stockton that weighed 588 pounds. Of the gators harvested in the Southwest Zone, which had 150 tags, 73 were males and 23 females.

John Herthum of Montgomery took the 700-pound gator, which measured 11 feet, 10 inches, in the Southeast Zone, which includes private and public waters in Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Russell counties. Herthum’s big gator was among 10 harvested in that zone, which issued 40 tags.

“There was nothing abnormal about this past season,” said Chris Nix, alligator program coordinator with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. “The alligators were a little smaller on average weight and length. There were more females harvested, which definitely had an effect on the average size.

“The weather was great this year. The number of tags filled just had to do with hunter selection. We still only had a few alligators harvested south of I-10. There are a lot of big alligators down there that are not being hunted.”

In the West Central Zone — where Mandy Stokes’ record alligator of 1,011.5 pounds and 15 feet long was taken in 2014 — the 50 tag holders harvested 31 alligators. Of the 19 males and 12 females harvested, Donald Hogue of Alabaster harvested the largest at 12 feet, 3 inches and weighing 538 pounds.

Seven alligators were taken in the Lake Eufaula Zone. Shannon Brasher of Odenville took the longest alligator at 11 feet, 7 inches.

High school legends honored

There will be 11 new names inducted into the 29th class of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. The group will be inducted during a banquet at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa on March 18.

Two of those being recognized with local connections are Phil Lazenby and Billy Odom. The rest of the group include football coaches David Lowery, Willie Carl Martin and Ronnie Sikes; basketball coaches Carolyn Wright and Schuessler Ware; track coach Claborn Campbell; baseball coach Mark Mincher; basketball official Johnny Robertson; and longtime coach and administrator Reynolds “R.C.” Cook.

The first Hall of Fame class was inducted in 1991. These 11 new inductees will run the total enshrined into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame to 353.

Lazenby is a graduate of Bessemer High School (1968), Samford University (1974) and University of Montevallo (master’s in 1979). He played on Samford’s 1971 national championship football team and was selected Most Valuable Defensive Player for Samford in 1973.

His longtime career in teaching and coaching began as an assistant football and head tennis coach at Bessemer’s Jess Lanier High School from 1976-80. He spent 2001 to 2006 at UMS-Wright as assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach.

Lazenby has been the director of football operations at Bayside Academy since 2007. His overall head coaching record is 169-89 with two state championship game appearances at Benjamin Russell and one at Bayside Academy. His teams have had just two losing seasons in 21 years and have reached the state playoffs 17 times.

Lazenby has served as an assistant and head coach in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, was Alabama Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year in 1997, 2011 and 2015, and has served as past president of the Alabama Football Coaches Association. He was inducted into the Samford Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. Away from football, he served in the U.S. Army infantry, reaching the rank of first sergeant with tours in Europe and Central America.

Odom graduated from Baker High School in 1968 and Mississippi College in 1972. He served as a teacher and head football coach at Baker for 14 seasons (1972-87), moved to Murphy as an assistant coach from 1989-91 and returned as head coach at Alba High School from 1992-97. His Alba team won the regional title in 1994.

Odom’s work as a coach and teacher was just part of his contribution. He played a key role in the development and administration of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game in Mobile from its inception in 1988. He has been a key administrative coach for that game ever since, heading into his 33rd year. He has also served as the South team manager in the Senior Bowl for the last three decades.

Recognized as one of Mobile County’s most dependable volunteers, he received the prestigious Bob Pannone Service Award in 2017 and was recognized with the L’Arche Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Many More Miles campaign returns

The 16th annual Many More Miles campaign is currently in process. Local runners and exercise enthusiasts may donate their old running shoes to land on the feet of someone who really needs them.

Baldwin Bone & Joint is again hosting this community project. They are partnering with the Port City Pacers, Dr. Glenn Glass, the University of South Alabama Student Recreation Center and local schools to collect shoes for the homeless outreach programs of Wings of Life and, for the first year, Family Promise of Baldwin County.

There were 200 pairs donated in 2004. Last year, the donations were just under 2,000 pairs. This year, shoes will be acccepted until the final drop-offs at the Azalea Trail Run in March.

Students in Mobile and Baldwin counties again are being given the opportunity to collect shoes and earn money for their schools’ physical education programs. Baldwin Bone & Joint will award cash prizes to the top three schools donating the most shoes.

Those interested in participating are encouraged to clean up those gently used athletic shoes, tie them together in pairs and drop them off at any of the following locations: Baldwin Bone & Joint (1505 Daphne Ave., Daphne), Dr. Glenn Glass’ Office (1303 Main St., Daphne), the University of South Alabama Student Recreation Center; participating schools in Mobile and Baldwin counties; and the Azalea Trail Run Expo (Friday and Saturday, March 22-23, Mobile Civic Center).

For more information, call 251-621-5387.