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Local alums Javion Cohen, Kristian Story gearing up for return home in Iron Bowl
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Local alums Javion Cohen, Kristian Story gearing up for return home in Iron Bowl

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Two local high school football stars will have what amounts to a homecoming for the Iron Bowl on Saturday.

Central-Phenix City alum Javion Cohen and Lanett alum Kristian Story will be back in east Alabama when Alabama travels to Auburn for one of college football’s biggest rivalries. Both may very well see the field for Saturday’s action, as Cohen has been a starting offensive lineman as a sophomore and Story has gotten more involved on special teams during his redshirt freshman campaign.

Cohen appeared in 10 games off the bench last fall before taking on a much, much bigger role in 2021.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban pointed to Cohen as a potential starter during SEC Media Days, and once the season got going Cohen became the Crimson Tide’s starting left guard. Cohen has manned that position throughout the season, and although he missed the New Mexico State game two weeks ago due to injury he returned to the field in last week’s victory over Arkansas.

“Javion Cohen has developed very nicely and most likely will be a starter, is a starter on our team probably even now,” Saban said in July. “If he continues to do his job well, he’ll be a starting probably left guard on our team. He’s done really well in school. He’s been a good person. He’s worked hard, so we’re very pleased.”

Cohen’s trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium may not garner him many cheers from the Auburn faithful.

Cohen, who was a four-star recruit, committed to Auburn in April 2019 and remained committed to the Tigers until the Crimson Tide came calling that winter. Cohen flipped to Alabama that December.

“They were upset and sent reports saying my offer was pulled,” Cohen said after his decision. “I have no respect for that university at all, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual.”

Cohen was a three-year starter at Central and quickly became one of the Red Devils’ top offensive linemen. He was an anchor on Central’s 2019 offense that featured a 1,400-yard passer and a 1,200-yard rusher as part of an offense that averaged just over 37 points per game and helped the team reach the Class 7A state championship game for the second straight season.

Story, meanwhile, has continued to make progress as he transitions to a full-time defensive player.

Story has appeared in eight games for the Crimson Tide this season and has recorded two tackles. He has worked diligently as a defensive back, something Saban also discussed during SEC Media Days.

“When you play high school quarterback and we make you a defensive back — which he thinks he is a defensive back and we think that’s his future as well — [it] probably takes a little bit more time to develop at a new position,” Saban said.

“You don’t have sort of background experience, knowledge that some players have that played that position in high school. But he’s doing a good job and has made a tremendous amount of improvement. He’ll probably be a quality backup and a special teams player for us this year.”

Story came to Alabama after an outstanding prep career with the Panthers.

Story finished his high school career with 13,218 total yards and 175 total touchdowns. He was a part of several Lanett teams that dominated the competition, as the Panthers won 50 games in the last four years and posted a 39-2 record during Story's time as quarterback.

As a senior in 2019, Story threw for 2,865 passing yards and 35 touchdowns and also ran for 1,293 rushing yards and 17 scores. His efforts this fall helped him set two AHSAA state records for total touchdowns in a career as well as total yards gained in a career.

Story left Lanett as a two-time state champion in football and took home several accolades, including Alabama’s Mr. Football award, the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year and the Alabama Male Athlete of the Year.

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