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The 2022 high school football season is underway and the group of players at James Clemens who make up the barrage of players on the offensive line proudly display the “iHop Pancake Block Championship Belt” presented to the offensive lineman with the most pancake blocks in each of the Jets’ games this season. Photo Contributed

High School Football 2022

MADISON- The 2022 campaign and the excitement of high school football is underway and already the local teams have hit the gridiron for another outstanding season of action. An exceptional season is expected by the four local squads from the Madison area.

Let’s take a quick look into each of the teams and see what could be on the horizon among the four squads.

Bob Jones

The Bob Jones Patriots, No. 12 in pre-season rankings among Class 7A, look to be on the rebound of not having a winning season since 2018. With six starters returning on offense and four on defense among the 32 seniors and 25 juniors on its roster, Bob Jones knows the “Time Is Now” to show its real talents as the season gets underway.

Quarterback Rayshawn Hardy (QB, 6-2, 200, Sr.), an All-State selection a year ago, is back and ready. He accounted for most of the Patriots’ offense a season ago posting 3,173 yards and 39 touchdowns. He is a speedster on two legs and a dual threat giving defenses headaches on trying to come up with a scheme to stop him. The Patriots also possess wide receivers with lots of experience. Those catchers include K.J. Fields (WR, 6-0, 185, Sr.), Quenton Hubbard (WR, 5-11, 155, Sr.), Brody Cooper (WR, 6-4, 200, Sr.) and Malachi Foster (WR, 5-7, 160, So.). Senior Maddox Sunderman (OL, 6-4, 305, Sr.) will anchor the offensive line as he’s the No. 8 rated offensive lineman in Alabama. He’s joined by returning starter Tafari Alcime (OL, 6-0, 280, Jr.).

The defense will be much better this season behind four returning starters and the addition of Brandon White (DL, 6-4, 220, Jr.), who moved to the D-line from starting on the O-line last season.

“With the experience we have, especially on offense, and the fact all of the players have been stronger in the weight room, we certainly should be better than last season,” said Kelvis White, jumping into his third season as head coach of Bob Jones.

James Clemens

The James Clemens Jets are expected to be the best team in the immediate area with the top-rated player in North Alabama in quarterback Gio Lopez (QB, 6-1, 210, Sr.), a University of South Alabama commit. He’s back in the saddle again and should continue his excellent play in 2022 with an outstanding supporting cast on offense. “I expect big things from him again this season as he’s one of the best I’ve had in my coaching career,” said Chad McGehee, in his second season as head coach.

Lopez will again look to Keymari Pittman (WR, 5-5, 145, Sr.) as his main weapon. Pittman was a Second-Team All-State choice last season and brings a load of speed and experience back to the huddle for the Jets. The wide receiver crew also features Logan Eggart (WR, 6-6, 190, Sr.) who is part of the James Clemens basketball program and will certainly present Lopez with a hug target. The offensive line will need to earn some valuable experience early in the 2022 campaign.

The offensive line already has an incentive to play well. iHop Restaurant of Madison is sponsoring the “iHop Pancake Block Championship Belt” which will be presented weekly to the top Jets’ OL who earns the Most Pancake Blocks. The player will proudly receive and wear the Championship Belt from iHop and will also receive a free meal from the iHop located on Highway 72.

The defense gave up just 21 points an outing in 2021 and has some superb, experienced players returning to knock down any offense it faces. The squad is led by All-State defensive back Jamal Mayers (DB, 5-10, 170, Sr.) who just happens to be one of the top rated DBs in the state. “Many of the players on defense have plenty of speed,” added McGehee.

The sixth-ranked Jets’ squad also features brothers who start. J.T. Williams (WR, 5-6, 173, Sr.) and his younger brother D.J. Williams (RB, 5-6, 170, Jr.) both may be short in stature at 5-foot-6, but have explosiveness second to none.

Sparkman

The Sparkman Senators had an excellent summer of off-season workouts and lots of success in local 7-On-7 tournaments and should provide a huge improvement over last season where they were 4-7.

With 32 seniors and 25 juniors, overall experience is there, and fifth-year head coach Laron White is looking for those players to excel. The name most spoken of when mentioning the Senators is Matt Rozier (WR, Sr.), an honorable mention All-State selection in 2021 and is looking to grab headlines again this season to close out his play at Sparkman before heading to college.

Additional players to look for each time the Senators take to the field from their location in Harvest are Malachi Jones (LB, Sr.) who posted 175 tackles a year ago and first-year starting quarterback Josh Ward (QB, Jr.). Ward looked very sharp in off-season play in the 7-On-7 action as the Senators won both the Huntsville Sports Commission and Grissom High tournaments.

Madison Academy

Meanwhile, Madison Academy came up just short of winning the Class 4A state title last season, but this year move to Class 3A where the Mustangs start the 2022 season at No. 10 and should excel from there.

The Mustangs will tackle new classification opponents in 2022, many of which will be a new look for the perennial powerhouse. The Region 7 Madison Academy will play in includes Asbury, Brindlee Mountain, Danville, J. B. Pennington, Susan Moore and Vinemont. Their schedule also includes four Class 4A opponents.

Madison Academy lost some of the state’s best players due to graduation and have some big holes to fill, but seasoned-rich head coach Bob Godsey will find a way to make his team to be a success as he’s in his fourth season as the top Mustang.

The 2022 high school football season will conclude play with the regular season on Oct. 28 with post-season playoffs kicking off the following week.

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