Spring Football For James Clemens Includes New Coach
MADISON- His voice can be heard throughout the practice field. His energetic vibrations can be felt from sideline to sideline and end zone to end zone. Chad McGehee is quickly making his presence known as the new head coach of the James Clemens Jets football program.
The 44-year old new leader of the Jets has jumped into his position head first as he has moved his wife and their two children to their new home Madison and he’s taken over the program fulltime in preparation for his first season as head coach this fall. His choice to bypass the traditional “spring football” and take the option of adding a week to the pre-season practices, per option set forth by the Alabama High School Athletic Association, and the move has given McGehee the chance to see what he will have this fall as current rules allow him two hours per week on-field workouts with his players.
“This program was left in good shape by coach (Wade) Waldrop and we are continuing to improve each day we get to work with the players and the reaction from them has been good,” said McGehee. “I’ve spent a lot of time building relationships with not only each player, but with their families, too. These are high character kids who have quickly adjusted with our ways of running this program.”
McGehee feels he will have 10 starters, five on each side of the football, return off last year’s squad which was 8-3 on the season and lost in the first round of the playoffs. On offense, junior quarterback Giovanni Lopez (6-1, 210) is being tabbed the leader and brings back a lot to the table for the Jets. McGehee said of Lopez, “The sky’s the limit for Gio as he can throw and run and having that running talent is a unique gift. His ability to get himself out of situations when plays break down is very good.”
On the defensive side of the ball, All-State defensive back Jamal Mayers (5-10, 170) will return for his junior season with several college offers already on his table. With seven interceptions, three of which were for a pick-six, Mayers brings experience and talent to the defense. “His future is bright,” said McGehee. “He comes to work every day and leads by example.”
On the line, offensive lineman Edge Watson (6-4, 290) looks to be heads up leader of the group of lineman as he’s received at least a half dozen offers from colleges. The defense will be anchored by Darren Verhage (6-1, 240) who has offers including one from Birmingham Southern
McGehee looks to be settled in to his new surroundings at James Clemens and he loves the platform that football brings to him and his coaching staff to invest in the student-athletes. He presents a special “Four Phases” training he brought with him after the last three seasons as defensive coordinator at Hoover High. “We call it Player Development and it consists of the person, the student, the athlete and the player,” said McGehee. “We believe in developing in all areas of each student-athlete.”
The Jets are expected to participate in a couple 7-on-7 competitions this summer with one already on the schedule for June 17 at UAB. They will play a pre-season game on Aug. 13 at Oxford.
Across town at Bob Jones, the Patriots chose to hold spring practice and play a spring game in Hartselle. In the varsity game, the Patriots defeated the Tigers 28-17. The junior varsity squad did not fare as well losing to Hartselle 24-nothing. The freshman Patriots showed out with a 42-8 victory.
Bob Jones has been selected to participate in the High School Football Kickoff Classic this fall. The Patriots will face the Dothan High Wolves on Aug. 20 in Montgomery. Bob Jones was 3-7 a season ago scoring just 160 points while giving up 239 in Region 4 Class 7A. Dothan will enter its third season as one of the newest high schools in Alabama while posting a 10-10 record in its first two years of playing. Last season, the Wolves were 2-7 giving up 317 points and tallying just 147 over its nine game schedule in Region 2 of Class 7A. The Wolves will wear their home uniform of cardinal and black in the contest against the red, white and blue colors of Bob Jones.