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The high school football season has been on hold through the first week of the season except for the Sparkman Senators who have c hosen to open their season on time versus Gardendale on the road. Photo Contributed

Madison Academy Opts Out- Sparkman Remains In

MADISON- The Class 4A Madison Academy Mustangs have opted to exit their scheduled season opener joining both Bob Jones and James Clemens in similar decisions. Meanwhile, the Sparkman Senators remain on schedule to open the 2020 high school football season on time.

The Mustangs have chosen to cancel their opening game versus Briarwood Christian Academy of Birmingham for precautionary reasons. According to officials with the private school in a recent written release, “Several factors led to this decision including travel issues and the size of the visitor stands and locker rooms, in addition to the general COVID-19 concerns.” The game was scheduled as a home game for the Mustangs.

Madison Academy also stated no decision has been made at this time about possibly picking up a game later in the season to replace this cancelled contest. No word has been released on the Aug. 28 game scheduled in Scottsboro for the Mustangs.

James Clemens has also announced it will play its opening game in Athens on Saturday, Aug. 29. The game was originally scheduled for Friday, Aug. 28, but the two schools agreed to move the game one day in an effort to help the Golden Eagles’ program to have one additional day in preparation for its season opener. Athens had at one time cancelled the game, but reconsidered and decided to play the upcoming campaign.

Sparkman is on schedule to play its season opener on the road in Gardendale against the Class 6A Rockets. The Senators are coming off an 8-3 overall record last season, which included a third place finish in Class 7A, Region 4 with a region record of 5-2 and a playoff first round loss to Hoover (21-3).

A season ago, Sparkman, under third year head coach Laron White, won its first seven games and achieved a sixth place state ranking among the Class 7A teams in week eight. The cardinal and black squad then lost their next two games versus James Clemens and Florence before ending the regular season with a win over Decatur.

“We played well against Hoover and our entire season a year ago certainly will build on this year’s team as we found some things we can build on just by looking at them,” said White, whose said he’s ready to kick off his fourth season with the Senators.

Gone from last year’s team are four All-State players including first-team punter Miles Tillman.

This year’s squad has 100 players on its varsity roster with 34 players in both senior and junior classes and another 32 listed in the sophomore class. White is looking to returning experience among his players to be a strong suit for the Senators in 2020.

“We must develop more depth as many of our seniors and juniors did not see a lot of snaps last season,” said White, as the Senators averaged 27 points per game while allowing just 19 points per outing. “We have two new running backs and offensive linemen to jell with our other offensive talents. Nick Sawyer, a West Point commit, (6-0, 165, Sr.) was our starting quarterback last year and will be again this go around, but he’ll get some pressure for snaps from Luke Schomburg (6-3, 190, Jr.) who I liked what he did last year in a backup role.”

In all, White said there are four Div. I recruits on the squad. Besides Sawyer, the big ticket players for the Senators includes Micah Pettus (6-8, 310, OL, Sr.) who is an Ole Miss commit, Caleb Ransaw (6-0, 180, CB, Sr.) who is looking at Troy and White’s own son, Karon White (6-2, 275, DE, Sr.), who has verbally committed to Appalachian State.

Gardendale was 8-4 overall in 2019 and exited the Class 6A state playoffs after the second round. The maroon and silver Rockets won its first six games of the season schedule scoring 25 points per game and allowing just 17 to each opponent.

“They will be loaded including their quarterback who is a West Virginia commit and five others who are Div. I talents,” said White of the Rockets. “This will be a great challenge for us and will be a difficult team to beat. We’ll have to play our best. I’m ready to play. We’re committed to play.”

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