By Gary Lloyd
GARDENDALE — Sorry opposing offenses, there are two more Cunninghams coming.
Zach Cunningham, named the Class 5A Lineman of the Year last season by the Alabama Sports Writers Association after piling up 194 tackles and 41 tackles for loss, has two younger brothers.
And they’re both linebackers.
“There are two more coming,” said Pinson Valley head coach Matt Glover.
Nathan Cunningham is a 210-pound junior linebacker who missed the spring due to a broken ankle that occurred in practice midway through last season. He caught a couple passes in the game against Clay-Chalkville before the injury. Glover said he made the move to linebacker from wide receiver/tight end two weeks ago.
“He’s kind of filling in Zach’s spot now,” Glover said of Nathan, who missed spring practice due to the injury. “We’re never going to replace Zach.”
Replacing that many tackles, that many tackles for loss and four blocked punts isn’t done by one defender. Junior Deon Gregory, at 5-foot-5, will play the exact position the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Zach Cunningham, now a freshman at Vanderbilt, manned last season.
The other brother is freshman Zapeth Cunningham, who will also be a linebacker.
Senior outside linebacker Elijah Bibbs said the defense has players that can make plays and be in the right position at the right time, but he knows missing 194 tackles and 41 tackles for loss is significant.
“Those are some big shoes to fill,” Bibbs said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.