Sparkman Opens Season On A Roll
HARVEST- The Sparkman football team is currently putting up statistics that are among the best in Alabama. Through the Senators’ first four games they have outscored their opponents 193-33 and posted two shutouts and two games scoring over 50 points.
“Every time we get the ball, we go to score,” said Laron White, in his sixth season as head coach of the Senators after 14 seasons at Tanner High where his team posted a record of 148-30 and outscored its opponents 6473-2683.
Sparkman is 3-1 in its first four games of 2022 falling in a heart-stopping overtime thriller to Austin 24-21 while posting victories of 77-9 over Hazel Green, 42-0 over Huffman and 53-0 on top of Albertville. The Senators have earned a No.7 spot among power rankings in Class 7-A schools. The squad has scored 48 points per game and allowed just eight each outing. The score over Hazel Green set team records in both scoring and margin of victory
Through the four games, junior quarterback Josh Ward (QB, 6-3, 195, Jr.) has hit 55 of 93 passes for 849 yards and 14 touchdowns. Six different receivers had caught touchdowns from Ward’s passes. Those receivers are led by senior Karmelo Montgomery and sophomore Jonathan Rozier with three each and senior Matt Rozier with six TD catches. The Senators are also moving the ball on the ground racking up 853 yards rushing with eight touchdowns by way of the run. Both Drip Thomas and Joe Coleman have over 200 yards rushing while Demeriss Carroll and Jabari Davis have over 100 yards carrying the ball.
“My offensive line is great as they haven’t let the defenses touch me too much, which allows me to get the ball out to my receivers who also include Bryan Nance and Briace McBeth,” said Ward, who is in his first year as starting QB. “I’m still learning as I’m trying to get all of this offense and defense processed. I’ve worked my butt off as I’m attempting to help my senior receivers get a college scholarship. Our offensive coordinator Coach (Spencer) Smith has been great in picking the correct plays in the weak spots of opposing defenses. Most of the time I don’t have to change the play at the line as he has picked the correct play.”
“While at Tanner (Class 2-A) our teams won like we are this season, but in Class 7-A it’s tough to do,” said White. “Our mental toughness is good. We’ve opened up our offense and I told our players in the spring we would take more shots downfield, but still the run the ball when we need to.”
Last season Sparkman was 4-7 and gave up 113 points more than it scored. That statistic is one the entire team looked to for motivation for the 2022 season.
“We all have a different mindset than the team a year ago as our work ethic is much better and our players held bonding events throughout the summer,” said Malachi Jones (LB, 5-11, 210, Sr.), senior linebacker for Sparkman. “We have improved as a defense throughout the early part of the season as our squad is motivated to stop our opposing teams. We have better team chemistry and through my four years here I am very proud of what we’ve done this season.”
Jones, who has had several colleges looking at his talents, leads the defense with 68 tackles, four sacks and a pick-six. Yves Ponder, a junior, has posted 40 tackles at linebacker and added a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Junior defensive back Jaylan Chambers has an interception for a score and a punt return for a touchdown.
“God gave me my abilities to play football and be a team leader on defense,” added Jones. “Being closer to God has made me more humble and able to be a team leader.”
Jones had knee surgery in April of 2021, but through hard work came back in time for his junior campaign a year ago earning All-Huntsville and All-Region honors. This year he’s on pace again to earn the post-season accolades, but he said first things first. “I’m very happy the way our entire team has played this far into the season. The offense has really stepped up and our defense is playing great. This is what Sparkman football is all about.”
Matt Rozier was honorable mention All-State in 2021 and is looking to have a splendid senior season to help the team win and possibly earn a college scholarship for himself.
With 32 seniors and 25 juniors on the team roster, Sparkman has plenty of playing experience on the field each week. White understands his team struggled last season with three senior starters being injured within the first two games of the schedule, but so far this year, things are different.
“We have good leadership in the right spots and a lot of these guys have grown up since last season,” said White. “I’m happy to see these kids playing well as whenever you can get a win, it’s great.”