“Ron Johnson, he does a lot for this community anyway,” Comer head coach Evan Blair said. “He’s been real supportive in me coming over here. I grew up and actually graduated from Fayetteville. He was always real supportive and active in stuff when I was down there. My parents—they’re trying to get stuff cooked to serve in the concession stand. I told them I wanted things to be top-notch. I want people to come over here and really enjoy being at Comer this weekend and they’re taking it and running with it. They’re talking about barbecue plates and banana pudding. The kids are all excited. We probably spent more time this week talking about who we play first in the tournament instead of worrying about what we’re going to do at practice every day. It’s just different for them. They haven’t always had a playing field where they’ve been able to host tournaments and be proud of having other teams over here. They’re excited and ready to have some people over here this weekend and I am too.”
It was actually Blair’s brother, Andrew Blair, who got the tournament started last year.
“My brother is the head coach at Coosa Central and it was actually his idea and they hosted the whole thing last year,” Blair said.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Comer, Blair served as an assistant coach for current Childersburg head coach Chad Slaten.
“I coached with Coach Slaten and we talked about it this summer,” Blair said. “We decided we were going to try to see if we could get more teams added and we decided to make it a two-site thing this time. For example, I think Coosa will host again next year and I think Fayetteville will have the other half. Hopefully, we can get more teams in it next year too. We’re just trying to get it bigger every year.”
Comer finished as the unofficial runner-up in last year’s event.
“I guess if you were keeping up standards and everything, you probably could have claimed second last year,” Blair said. “We lost to Childersburg. Childersburg beat up on us, but we beat Fayetteville and Coosa, which were the only other teams we played. So, we did pretty good down there. We added Munford and Talladega, so it should be a little more competitive and have a little more local flavor to it.”
Comer will open the tournament against a familiar opponent—Blair’s brother’s team, Central Coosa.
“They’re in our region this year, so it’s brother on brother in region play,” Blair said. “We got them in the County Tournament and both teams played real well. We got a one-run win out of that and we get to open with them here.”
After opening the tournament on Friday at 3 p.m. against Central Coosa, Comer will play a 7 p.m. game against Munford.
“We were supposed to play them [Tuesday] and it got rained out,” Blair said. “A lot of our guys have never played Munford. Being a county school, you’d think we’d play Munford more. But they’re excited about playing Munford. We’ve done a lot of work to the field here—the community, parents, Jack Jackson my assistant coach, and we’re real excited about being able to host something like this.”
Blair isn’t shy to admit he is using many of the things he learned at Childersburg and applying them to his team at Comer, along with trying to emulate other traditionally strong programs.
“We’re really trying to get the program up and running here at Comer,” Blair said. “I was around the way they did things at Childersburg for so long and I told [Sylacauga] coach Gibbs this about his team last week at the County Tournament: We use Childersburg and Sylacauga and teams like that as a model all the time. We may not necessarily be ready to play with them yet, but if we play the game hard and play it right like they do, we’re going to be fine. That’s what we’re trying to do every time we come out. Hopefully, we come out in this tournament, play against some local teams, play hard and things will go our way.”