PIEDMONT, Ala. (WBRC) - When you think of high school athletics here in Alabama, football is definitely on top of the list. That's certainly true in Piedmont, with all their state championships.
And Piedmont High School has had so much success on the gridiron they are trying another sport, even trading in the football for a video game controller.
Christian McFarland is a senior on the Piedmont High football team.
McFarland is now also a success on a different field playing Esports.
That's a competitive, organized video gaming competition.
Christian along with fellow teammate Carson Spivey play on a two-man team in the game Rocket League.
They’re both preparing for an upcoming competition against other high school teams across the state, where working as a team is crucial.
Spivey said, "If you miss a teammate you're out of luck for that game."
Esports coach Dominic McMath is preparing his team for competitions in Rocket League and League of Legends.
McMath pushes his team just like any other coach. He said, "This really brings them out of their shell because you have to communicate with your teammates. You cannot play these games without communicating with your teammates."
Esports is a regulated sport within the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
That means they're treated no differently than any other sport.
During the season, teams from different schools will take on each other in multiple competitions. A ranking will be used to eventually determine a state champion at the end of the season.
As for McFarland and his football career. McFarland said, "Mr. McMath says if I dropped sports and switched to full-time gaming I would probably go pro. Which is pretty funny for him to say."
But at the end of the day McFarland said he would have to choose football.
Carson Spivey, McFarland’s teammate says he wouldn’t mind a future in Esports.
Spivey said you can get college scholarships and join professional teams, potentially making millions of dollars.
Coach McMath feels confident Esports will be around for a long time.
McMath said, "I give it a few years and I think almost every school that can house an Esports team have one compete will have one."
According to a report from Newzoo, a market analytics company, Esports revenues worldwide will reach an impressive $1.1 billion for 2019.