Central football players react to Jamey DuBose, then-Central head coach, holding up the championship trophy on Dec. 4, 2018, after defeating Thompson in the Class 7A state title game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.

Over the last decade, the Central-Phenix City Red Devils have established themselves as one of Alabama’s elite programs. As a result, the squad has also become one of the state’s most popular teams.

MaxPreps named Central as the second-most popular high school football team in Alabama on Tuesday. The high school sports site ranked the top five teams in each state based on their MaxPreps’ site views from April 2019 to April 2020.

Hoover, which has established a national following over the years thanks to its consistent success and its appearance on the MTV show “Two-A-Days”, was ranked No. 1 in the state.

The Red Devils’ rise to being one of Alabama’s go-to football programs correlates with their rise to one of the true powers in the state’s highest classification. Since 2013, Central has posted five double-digit win seasons, reached the state semifinals five-straight years and played for the state championship in 2018 and 2019.

The team’s 2018 run truly established their status in the state, as Central went undefeated in the regular season, captured its first state championship since 1993 and capped off its first undefeated season since 1944.

The triumphs on the field have only been made possible due to the wealth of talent within the program.

The Red Devils have sent numerous players on to prominent college football programs, including but not limited to wide receivers Justyn Ross and E.J. Williams as well as defensive back Ray Thornton to Clemson, linebacker Markail Benton and offensive lineman Javion Cohen to Alabama, quarterback Peter Parrish to LSU and offensive lineman Joshua Jones to Kentucky.

Central will look to continue its winning ways under new head coach Patrick Nix when the Red Devils host Peach County (Ga.) in the season opener on Aug. 21. Nix is no stranger to leading one of the state’s top programs, as Pinson Valley — where Nix was head coach the past three seasons — came in fifth in MaxPreps’ rankings.

Alabama’s Top 5

1. Hoover

2. Central

3. Thompson

4. Oxford

5. Pinson Valley

Visit to see the rankings for other states.

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