Spring Football

FootballThe full spring season is underway and that usually means the herding of the football junkies for spring practice. The high schools in the area always use spring practice sessions to not only evaluate new players to their programs, but to see how the returning players have progressed during the off-season and gauge the areas of their squads that needed a bolster in preparation for the fall season.“Our goal is to have a physical spring and identify our areas of strengths and weaknesses,” said Wade Waldrop head coach of James Clemens, which finished 8-4 a season ago with an appearance in the second round of the state playoffs.James Clemens kicks off spring practice among the local schools with a start date of April 24. The Jets will continue on a practice schedule concluding with a spring game against Hartselle. Meanwhile, Bob Jones jumps into practice May 1 and will go through May 12 with a possible inter-squad game. Madison Academy will also have an inter-squad contest at the conclusion of its spring practice that will run May 1-19. At Sparkman, the Senators will hold spring workouts May 1-18 with a spring ending jamboree game versus Austin.

“We’re looking at four returners on offense, plus Devon Atkinson who missed all of last season due to a knee injury,” said Waldrop of Atkinson, who was an all-state selection as a sophomore two years ago. “We have three returning on defense, plus our punter and place kicker. We also have five returning players who were playing in rotation.”

At Sparkman, the program is under new leadership as Laron White is the new head coach. He was named the head Senator in February replacing Chris Cagle who decided to vacate his position after the 2016 season as the Senators finished 4-6. White inherits a program that was 11-19 in three seasons under Cagle. White is no stranger to winning as he came to Sparkman from Tanner High where the Rattlers were 148-30 in his 14 seasons at the school that also won two state championships in Class 2A.

“We expect to have around 107 players coming out this spring as we have four starters on defense and six on offense coming back for the 2017 season,” said White. “We are excited about spring practice and want to go out and be aggressive and fly around.”

At Madison Academy, second-year head coach Grant Reynolds looks to take his program one step farther in 2017 after finishing runner-up in Class 4A losing in the state title game to Handley 30-7.

“We will be trying to build depth at several key positions on offense and defense this spring,” said Reynolds. “We have 11 starters all together returning, but lost some players in key positions. Of the 64 players coming out this spring we have six starters on defense coming back and five starters on offense.”

For White, arriving on campus just prior to spring practice kickoff, he knows his time with the program is limited and he’s not hard pressing that issue, therefore, will limit new items inserted into the program. “He added, “We just want to have some physical practices and see who will compete for playing time.”-Bob Labbe