Three more players from the Class 4A state runner-up Madison Academy football team have signed athletic scholarships. Ty Bartley agreed to sign with the Olivet Nazarene Tigers of Illinois, KeKe Matthews signed with Harding University while K.J. Malone signed with Cumberland University of Lebanon, Tenn.
“It was a big decision to make because I went to several campuses, but once I got to Olivet it felt like home and I was happy there,” said Bartley, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound outside linebacker who was a four-year letterman for the Mustangs. “I feel like I’m always improving and I feel my speed is good enough to take care of that part of playing the position.”
For Malone, he was on the Madison Academy campus for two years, but after transferring to the private school from Grissom High of Huntsville, he was required to sit out his junior year. This past season he made up for lost time on the football field by catching 56 passes for 823 yards and 11 touchdowns. “Sitting out that one season took a lot of patience. More than any other thing I’ve ever done before,” said Malone, who at 6-2, 180 was recruited to be a wide receiver, but also played free safety for the Mustangs. “I talked to others who had transferred and found out what it was like. When I scored my first touchdown here at M.A. it was an amazing feeling.”
Head coach Grant Reynolds, who was at the helm for the Mustangs in his first season in 2016, said of Malone, whose name is Kelvin, “He was on an even keel and was very humbled on anything he did for us. He has great play and work ethic.”
As for Bartley, who recorded 52 tackles, eight sacks and 12 stops for losses in his senior season, Reynolds said, “He was relentless on defense as it seems as though his motor was always running.”
The son of Kelvin Sr. and Nancy Malone, the talented Malone, who also stars on the school’s track team, said of using the initials for his name, “My granny came up with that since I am a Kelvin, Jr. and it stuck.”
A member of the National Honor Society and school choir, Bartley suffered a near career ending injury two weeks prior to the opening of his junior season. He fractured two vertebrae in his neck. The injury was not considered to be serious enough to stop him from going back to the field where he has earned a college ride. Bartley said, “It was kind of scary, but I was able to start that first game of the season and it has healed well, though I still feel some pain on occasions as the vertebrae has some chips that remain there. On the field, I do whatever it takes to make the play.”
Matthews was a big part of the Mustangs’ 2016 run at the Class 4A state championship that came up short in the state title game losing to Handley 30-7. He played both running back and defensive back, but his talents on the offensive side of the ball is where he became most prominent. For 2016, the 5-10, 160 Matthews rushed for 500 yards and had an additional 350 yards receiving scoring 14 touchdowns total on the campaign. On defense, he had 27 tackles and four interceptions.
“I really liked the coaches at Harding as they made me feel as though they really wanted me to play there,” said Matthews. “They indicated that I could be the face of the program one day.”
Matthews also a starter for the Madison Academy basketball team that is two-time defending state champion and is currently moving towards possibly three consecutive state titles. “My highlights here at M.A. are winning two state titles in both football and basketball. Not many athletes can achieve that,” said Matthews.
A fashionable dresser, Matthews wants to study fashion while attending college. He said he loves to come out in style.
“I’ve been fortunate to have lots of people around me that have given me motivation, plus my love for the sport of football have made me who I am today,” added Matthews.