AISA moves football championships to Montgomery for 2020

Bessemer Academy celebrates winning the AAA state title in Troy, where the championships have been played 19 of the past 20 seasons. 

The Alabama Independent School Association’s state football championships will be moving to Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl for the 2020 season.

The “AISA Tripleheader,” as it’s billed, has been played in Troy University’s Veterans Stadium every year but one since its inception in 2000, but the university’s COVID-19 policy – which requires a 48-hour window to sanitize the stadium between events – cannot give the private school association a playing date on Nov. 20.

“It was a policy which would eliminate Friday (Nov. 20) as an option and we would have been fixed on Thursday night contests and there would have been restrictions on locker room use,” AISA executive director Michael McLendon said. “That would have created problems for everybody.”

Because the AISA and Troy are on a year-to-year agreement, McLendon said avoiding parking conflicts between Troy students and AISA fans as well as the locker room restrictions made it wise to change the venue this year to Montgomery, where parking won’t be a problem and there are four locker rooms available instead of two.

“They were willing to work with us within their policies and protocols they have in place and we understand that,” McLendon said. “In talking with our athletic directors and coaches, we just decided it was a better option to at least have an opportunity to play on Friday night.”

Both G.W. Carver and Robert E. Lee use Cramton Bowl as their home stadium and both teams will be participating in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s 6A state football playoffs. Should either advance to the quarterfinals and be designated as the home team, the school would have first choice of playing on Friday, moving the championships to Thursday.

Carver has reached the quarterfinals four times since 2000, with its last third-round game coming at Auburn in 2013. Lee has reached the quarterfinals once in that time frame, playing at Central-Phenix City in 2018 as a 7A team.

The facility is scheduled to host the AISA’s Class A championship game at noon, followed by the AA title game at 3:30 p.m. and the AAA championship game at 7 p.m.

McLendon was appreciative of the university’s part of hosting the Tripleheader and planned to return to Troy in 2021.

“Certainly, the plan now would be to go back to Troy for our championships,” he said. “This is our 20th year of having the Tripleheader and most of those have been at Troy. Dr. (Jack) Hawkins and the athletic staff have always been really good to us and welcoming. We certainly would be glad to get back.

“We’re also grateful to the City of Montgomery for opening up Cramton Bowl to us for our championships. It’s obviously the site of our all-star game every year so we’re familiar with the facility and the staff that operate that complex. We’re very grateful to the mayor and the parks and recreation department and the Central Alabama Sports Commission for welcoming us during this complicated time.”