September 9, 2011

Homecoming for Ragland

It's only week three of the high school football season in Alabama, but Class 6A Region 8 could be decided tonight when Bob Jones High School takes on Florence High School.

The game features plenty of star power as Rivals 100 linebacker and Alabama commitment Reggie Ragland leads the Patriots against a Florence team with Mississippi State commit Kivon Coman and three-star athlete Beniquez Brown.

Ragland, who had 11 tackles, including seven for a loss in a week-two victory, knows how important this game is for Bob Jones.

"This is a real big game because everybody has Florence winning the region, so we're going to come out and try to play real hard against them," Ragland said. "I've got to make sure I'm ready to play, so my team can get behind me and we can go in there with full force."

For Ragland, the game is more than just about who wins the region. It's a homecoming for him.

The in-state star was born in Florence and lived there until he was four years old, and his family moved to Huntsville. He still has plenty of family members who live in the area and will be at the game.

"It's going to be real good to go back to Florence because a whole bunch of my dad's old friends have been calling him about how they're going to come to the game and how everybody in Florence is talking about the game," Ragland said. "It should be real fun."

Ragland's nephew, Rayshawn 'Ray-Ray' Smith, will be on the opposing sidelines and line up at outside linebacker for the Falcons. Smith is a junior this year.

Ragland, who committed to the Crimson Tide back in December, wasn't able to make Alabama's first game against Kent State but liked what he saw from his future teammates.

"They looked real good," Ragland said. "The offense looked real good with Trent Richardson running the ball. The receivers were catching it. The defense was stopping people. They looked real good."

Even with his game tonight, Ragland is already looking ahead to Alabama's game in Happy Valley on Saturday. His prediction: Alabama 35, Penn State 14.

He plans to visit for the Crimson Tide's next two home games against North Texas and Arkansas.

TideSports.com will be bringing you full coverage from the game in Florence tonight.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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