MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — Our first episode of On the Road with Olivia and Claudia features one of the biggest rivalries in North Alabama: the Madison Bowl.
Starting with Bob Jones, the Patriots finished with a 5-5 regular season record and suffered a first-round playoff loss to Hoover.
Head coach Kelvis White is entering his fourth year leading the program, and he says he’s seeing a hunger among this year’s group after some average results the past few years.
“I’ve been really impressed with the leadership,” White said. “Our guys come to work every day trying to get better and we have some young talent we have some guys that it’s their time to step up and play, and we’ve got some experienced guys from last year. I’m excited about it. We have great energy and again the guys are working really hard.”
The Pats lost some guys who played key roles last season, but in football, it’s next man up mentality – and Coach White says he’s encouraged by the athleticism and talent of this year’s group.
“That’s what I enjoy about it – the process. When you see a little 8th grader come over as a 9th grader his first year and say ‘I don’t know if he’ll ever play’. Fast forward the year and they’ve matured and developed, and low and behold, they’re starting and contributing to the team, so I enjoy that process as a coach, seeing the kids come from that first year to leaving as seniors, and that’s what I enjoy about this whole process.”
Just 10 minutes away from Bob Jones over on County Line Road, we find the James Clemens Jets. 2022 was an underwhelming season for this program. The Jets finished 4-6 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
“You’re going to be hungry because of the year we came off of last year,” head coach Chad McGehee said. “We lost three games by 8 points or less and missed the playoffs ultimately and we’ve spent the offseason talking about that. We’re going to own it and when you own something you’re going to do something about it to fix it and to take care of it so we’re going to earn it.”
The third-year head coach McGehee says he has an experienced group coming back with guys who have been in the first before and he expects this year’s team to maintain the standard of the Jets’ program.
“There’s a certain expectation we have for the group this year. I don’t think you ever want to fall short of that expectation. It’s like a new car and you take it to the next speed and the next speed and I think all of our coaches are having a really good time because we’re like can we do this and then yes we can we can execute this and we can do these things so that’s been the cool part about this team.”
The Patriots will travel to Muscle Shoals to open the season on Thursday, August 24; the Jets will also be on the road for their first kickoff taking on Gardendale on Friday the 25th.