HARTSELLE — Fingers pointing at their Hartselle High School football teammate, Preston Adams and Deacon Aldridge criticized Aaron Lamb’s classroom performance.
“Underachiever.” “Untapped potential.”
But what more could they want? Academically, Lamb is near the top of Hartselle High’s 2013 graduating class.
“Lamb only made a 33 on his ACT, and he only took it twice,” Aldridge said. “Just imagine what he could have scored had he applied himself. Slacker.”
Adams also took a crack at his pal.
“(Lamb) is the smartest person I know, but if he wasn’t so lazy, who knows?” he said.
Obviously, they’re joking with their friend — with hints of sincerity.
Lamb, a defensive back on the football team, is a whiz in the classroom, and scoring a 33 on the ACT places him in elite status because 36 is the highest possible score.
It’s no coincidence that three of the smartest guys on the football team — Adams and Aldridge both scored 30 on the ACT — play important roles on the football field. And they’ve enjoyed plenty of success while doing so.
Heading into tonight’s first-round playoff game at Class 5A No. 2 Fort Payne, the seniors on Hartselle’s football team have won 33 games and one state title.
Hartselle school officials are just — or more — proud of the trio’s academic accomplishments, because those successes likely will lead to college scholarships.
“It’s an impressive accomplishment — one that our school is very proud of,” Hartselle High athletics director Johnny Berry said.
Impressive, indeed — and rare.
According to the ACT’s website, actstudent.org, only 3 percent of high school graduates who took the test from 2010 to 2012 scored 30 or higher, and just 1 percent scored 33 or higher.
“I’m not surprised at all that we have three football players who have accomplished this,” Berry said. “Those guys, they’re all driven individuals who push one another to be successful.
“Not one of those three kids has ever shied away from taking a difficult course. That type of work ethic is why they’re so successful on and off the field.”
On top of being multi-sport athletes who shine in the classroom, they also are involved in almost every extracurricular club offered at the school.
The active lifestyles create a cramped schedule. Sports practice fills most afternoons. After heading home to eat dinner, most of the time before bed is devoted to tedious homework for advanced placement classes and studying for tests.
At times, they find it hard to juggle sports while maintaining academic excellence. Luckily, they don’t have to look far for support. Several of the school’s student-athletes have formed a study group — one in which they compete fiercely for academic supremacy.
“If you were on your own, trying to do all this by yourself, it would be tough,” said Aldridge, who starts at quarterback and is a star outfielder on the baseball team. “But since we’ve got a good group of guys who help each other out, it’s not as bad.”
“I have to admit, there are times when it gets old,” said Adams, who starts at wide receiver on the football team. He is also a standout basketball player and golfer.
“Playing three sports demands a whole lot of time, and being in AP classes is tough. There is so much you have to do, and there are times when it’s hard to get everything done. Luckily, we’ve got good friends we can lean on for help.”
That includes the head football coach.
“Academics and athletics, I think it all correlates,” Hartselle coach Bob Godsey said. “These guys strive to be the best in everything they do, and it shows with the success they’ve had. Everything these guys have accomplished speaks volumes for our school, because we have some good things going on over here, both academically and athletically.”
But life on the football field isn’t always easy. Blow a coverage or miss an assignment and creative criticism usually follows.
“If I get beat by a receiver, I usually hear, ‘This isn’t calculus class,’ ” Lamb said. “And then there’s, ‘What did you make on our ACT? And you can’t figure this out.’ They can get pretty creative. It’s all in fun.”
Not surprising, Aldridge, Adams and Lamb each have outlines of their future.
Lamb and Adams plan to attend Auburn University, where Lamb plans to major in chemical engineering, and Adams hopes to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Because Aldridge hopes to play college baseball, he has not decided on a college destination, but he wants to pursue a career in engineering.
Poking fun at his teammate, Adams tossed out another one-liner.
“I heard this one the other day: ‘Hey Lamb, have you taken AP brain surgery yet?’ ” he said. “Lamb hears stuff like that all the time. It’s pretty funny.”
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