Despite Pandemic Health Concerns High School Football Kicksoff
MADISON- After three of the four local high school football teams sat out the official start of the 2020 season last week due to COVID-19 concerns, week two of the current season will feature a full slate of games with both Bob Jones and Sparkman hosting games while James Clemens and Madison Academy hit the road for their opening battles.
The Patriots of Bob Jones host the Buckhorn Bucks and face the one-time county rival for the first time since 2017. The Class 6-A Bucks are coming off a 20-19 loss to Madison County in week one.
In 2019, Buckhorn was 4-7 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Bob Jones finished 4-6 and missed the post-season play under then head coach Kevin Rose. This is the first season for new head coach Kelvis White who came to Madison from Mae Jemison High of Huntsville.
White picks up a program that lost its first four games of the 2019 season and never really recovered enough to make the post-season action. The Patriots scored 22 points per outing while giving up on average 30 points to each opponent. Despite the first losing season since 2006, the Pats will bring 10 returning starters on offense and eight on defense to the field this Friday night at the Madison City Schools Stadium. The offense will be led by returning starter Slate Alford (6-2, 205, Sr.) at quarterback who is an Auburn commit to play baseball. He’ll be protected by an offensive line led by All-State center Drew Lawson (6-2, 295, Sr.) who has had 21 starts over the last two years.
The defense can muster some experience in all positions and look to be much better than a season ago.
James Clemens will play Saturday night in Athens as the Class 6-A Golden Eagles of Athens will try and bump off the No. 7 ranked Jets for the first time in the school’s third meeting. Athens was 8-4 last season and lost in the second round of the 6A playoffs. The Eagles posted 34 points per game on offense while allowing just 19 points to each opponent.
The Jets under eight-year head coach Wade Waldrop look to possibly be the best team from North Alabama in the Class 7-A classification as they are the two-time defending Region 4 champs. Despite having the smallest senior class of players in school history and just four returning starters, the squad has the potential to break the school record set a season ago of 476 points scored behind quarterback Connor Cantrell (5-10, 180, Sr.). “He has all the tangibles to be a good leader and player,” said Waldrop of Cantrell, who is also a three-year starter for the James Clemens baseball team.
With a good corps of linebackers and defensive linemen, the defense should jell quickly as the squad gave up just 17 points per game in 2019.
The Sparkman Senators decided to open the new season on time and on the road versus Gardendale. After opening a 7-0 lead, the host Rockets scored 22 unanswered points to post a 22-7 win over the visiting Senators
Under fourth-year head coach Laron White, the Senators return home for a home game against the defending Class 7-A state champion Thompson Warriors. The visiting team from Alabaster went 12-1 a season ago putting up 43 points per game while allowing a mere 21 points. Thompson posted a 40-14 win over Central Phenix City in the 2019 state title game.
Sparkman, 8-3 and a first round playoff loss to Hoover a year ago, lost four All-State players off that squad, but have plenty of experience to choose from including returning starting quarterback Nick Sawyer (6-0, 165, Sr.). The West Point commit leads a group of four Div. I recruits on the squad- Micah Pettus (6-8, 310, OL, Sr.) who is an Ole Miss commit, Caleb Ransaw (6-0, 180, CB, Sr.) is looking at Troy and Karon White (6-2, 275, DE, Sr.), coach White’s son, has verbally committed to Appalachian State.
If the Senators put their pieces together correctly they will have a puzzle for opposing teams, like Thompson, will have to reckon with in the trenches.
Madison Academy bypassed its scheduled season opener a week ago, but now look to a true kickoff at Scottsboro. The Class 4-A Mustangs lost to 5-A Scottsboro 21-12 in last year’s 5-6 overall season record. Despite a 5-5 regular season record, the Mustangs made it to the first round of the playoffs only to fall to Jasper.
Scottsboro finished 9-3 and a second round playoff appearance a season ago while scoring 35 points per clip and over 17 points allowed,
This is season number two for Madison Academy head coach Bob Godsey and will have only seven seniors on this year’s squad led by returning starting quarterback Avery Seaton (5-10, 198).