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Friday’s 6A, Region 8 matchup between James Clemens and Sparkman will feature two teams looking for their first win while trying to establish their identities as football programs.
James Clemens (0-2, 0-1 in the region) is building its program from scratch in its first season. Sparkman (0-2, 0-1) is rebuilding after five straight losing seasons.
Sparkman coach Tim Gillespie acknowledged the similarities between the two teams.
“We’re not all that different,” he said. “We’re kind of starting over ourselves.”
James Clemens has scored seven points in its first two games. Opening with two home games, the Jets lost to J.O. Johnson 20-7 in their regular season debut followed a by 72-0 drubbing by crosstown rival Bob Jones.
Sparkman has surrendered 93 points during its 0-2 start. The Senators fell 51-19 at former Region 8 rival Huntsville before a 42-13 region loss to visiting Hazel Green.
Gillespie foresees a close contest on Friday.
(James Clemens is) “a new school but they have good players,” Gillespie said. “They played a good (J.O.) Johnson team real close.”
Gillespie credited his team for maintaining a positive attitude and strong work ethic during a difficult start to the season.
“At this point the kids have not reverted to the ‘Here we go again’ (mindset),” he said. “They come back with a strong work ethic the next week.”
Gillespie recognized a few of the Senators’ standout players. Junior Cruise Suski has played four positions so far. Sparkman has played Suski at quarterback, tailback, fullback and receiver. Gillespie said sophomore Miller Maztek has made a 48-yard field goal and all of his kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks. Senior defensive end Josh Cross has also impressed Gillespie.