Jeff Klein's life, big AHSAA changes, and two commitments are all on the way this week in high school sports

Jeff Klein's life, big AHSAA changes, and two commitments are all on the way this week in high schoo ...

A weekly look at high school sports in Alabama for the past week and a look ahead to what is on tap. This is an opinion piece.

I didn't know Jeff Klein personally, but I'd wish I had.

Klein, a football and baseball coach at Loachapoka High and a former Auburn quarterback, had a severe stroke earlier this week.

He was just 42 years old.

He and his wife Adrienne have three young children.

Adrienne's post on Jeff's life support before she was removed was heartbreaking.

"Words are difficult to understand at the moment. Jeff had a CT scan this morning with terrible findings. Sometime around 6 a.m. this morning he suffered a significant stroke. He had his neurological condition severely damaged, and he was told he would never recover and suffer from a poor quality of life.

My world as I know it has been completely destroyed. I have never known such heartache and pain. After a few friends leave town to say their goodbyes tonight and tomorrow, my love of my life, the father of our three beautiful children, will be removed from all forms of life sustaining support.

"Somewhere from March 13th through April 12th, a once healthy, energetic, and committed Christian, husband, father, brother, son, teacher, and coach died of two rare conditions/diseases that have yet to be fully diagnosed."

Klein's death has come to an end.

How quickly may life change. Jeff went from seemingly complete health to dying himself. One month. Folks, we aren't guaranteed the next day, the next hour for that matter. Take advantage of your ability to positively influence people while you can.

Since Jeff's death, he influenced a large number of people from Auburn to Loachapoka and every stop in between. Several thanks have been poured in on social media from colleagues, friends, and former teammates.

His life on this earth was too short, but it was evidently not without Kingdom's effects.

I didn't have to need to know him personally so I could see that he was always upbringing.

And, even in death, there is good news. There is hope.

Rob Pate, Klein's former Auburn teammate, has posted it on Twitter.

"My heart aches for his wife and young boys. I am grateful Jeff had an eternal perspective this life isn't it. Jesus defeating death is our hope. It was Jeff's. His desire is being fulfilled."

It will be held on Easter weekend.

As of this posting, a GoFundMe account in support of the Klein family has raised more than $182,000. If you wish to donate, here are a few suggestions.

The AHSAA has received some great news.

The AHSAA Central Board of Control Meeting took place this week.

In 2023, the league's baseball, softball, and soccer teams will play in region play, compared to the traditional football formats.

The membership of Pike Liberal Arts, one of the AISA's most popular sports programs, has been approved by the Board. Due to the timing of the school's application, the school's football team will not be eligible for the playoffs until the 2024-25 school year. Pike's other programs will be eligible for the playoffs for the 2022-23 school year.

There were also shakeups on the Board and the AHSAA staff. Board president Vann Phillips stepped down as previously reported. Vice President Farrell Seymore also stepped down. Mike Welsh and Jamie Chapman have also stepped down in their positions. Jamie Lee, assistant director, has announced his resignation. He will lead the city of Vestavia Hills.

I didn't have a working relationship with Seymore, but I met Phillips and Lee. Both were always extremely compassionate to me and compassionate when they could. They will be missed.

Christopher Vizzina of Briarwood is hoping to win against Clay-Chalkville in a Class 6A playoff game in Clay, Ala., Friday, November 12, 2021. (Mark Almond |

A wonderful recruiting week

This week, a pair of huge-time Class of 2023 recruits made their choices.

Christopher Vizzina, a Briarwood Christian quarterback, is currently ranked as Alabama's No. 7 overall senior prospect. In 2021, he scored 29 touchdowns with 2,065 passing yards.

Yhonzae Pierre, an Eufaula EDGE rusher, will join Florence DB Jahlil Hurley in his class of 2023. Pierre has chosen Alabama ahead of Florida State, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Florida, Penn State, Mississippi State, and Auburn.

The winners of Bryant-Jordan have been announced.

Gabe Marsh and Erin Brown of Guntersville High School were awarded $380,000 scholarships to 104 high school seniors who received regional honors.

I was honored to be a small member of the committee who selected these winners. All of the stories are incredible. Congratulations to all of the regional and overall winners.

In Game 2 of the prep baseball series, Saraland's C.T. Englebert runs a three-run homer against McGill-Toolen Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in Mobile, Ala. (Mike Kittrell |

Next week, the theme will be "Child."

Are there any playoffs? Yep. The AHSAA state baseball playoffs begin for Classes 1A-6A. The class 7A teams will begin playing the next week. The final Alabama Sports Writers Association baseball poll will be released Thursday morning before the start of the postseason. The teams are hoping to advance to the state finals in Jacksonville and Oxford in late May.

The week's 80s quote

Iceman (Top Gun) says, "You can be my wingman anytime."

The week ahead, think twice.

"There is no Easter celebration on Sunday without the pain of Friday," says the narrator.

Ben Thomas is the writer of high school sports at. Follow him on twitter at @BenThomasPreps or email him at His weekly column is posted every Friday on

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