High school football season is just weeks away – see who’s in the top 10

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High school football season is just weeks away. (Huntsville High Schoool Band via Facebook)

High school football season is almost upon us, and in this part of the world, that means a whole lot more than just watching a sport. We love our football. And high school football encompasses so many more elements than the sport does at higher levels. It’s about community pride, the involvement because that quarterback might be the same kid who mows your lawn in the summer.

It’s the sound of the drums of the marching band, the glitter and glamour of the dance teams, the spirit of the cheerleaders and the comradery that comes with rooting for your community’s school. Let’s face it. Football is a way of life in North Alabama.

So, here is a look at the Alabama Sports Writers Association preseason polls for each classification, and where local schools rank among their classes:

Class 7A

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James Clemens is ranked in the top 10 in the ASWA high school football preseason poll. (James Clemens Athletics via Facebook)

The big schools have the smallest group, with just 32 high school football teams competing for the AHSAA championship, but this is also some of the best high school football anywhere in the country. Class 7A has basically been dominated the last decade by two schools — Hoover High School and Thompson High School — that have claimed eight of the last 10 championships.

The ASWA seems to think Thompson is primed for their fourth straight title, as the Warriors are the unanimous preseason no. 1 team. Locally, James Clemens made the top 10, coming in at no. 6.

Here is the Class 7A preseason top 10, with last season’s record, first place votes and total votes:

  1. Thompson (21) 13-1 252
  2. Central-Phenix City 13-1 177
  3. Auburn  10-3  152
  4. Hewitt-Trussville  9-3  148
  5. Hoover  12-1  140
  6. James Clemens  10-1  99
  7. Fairhope  9-2  84
  8. Enterprise  8-4  52
  9. Baker  7-4  32
  10. Opelika  9-4  22

Others receiving votes: Prattville (7-4) 20, Bob Jones (5-6) 9, Florence (5-6) 4, Oak Mountain (7-5) 4, Daphne (5-5) 2.

Mark your calendar: Bob Jones takes on James Clemens Sept. 2.

Class 6A

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Muscle Shoals High School is among a handful of North Alabama teams that received poll votes by the ASWA. (Muscle Shoals City Schools via Facebook)

The ASWA has picked Clay-Chalkville to repeat as Class 6A champions. The Cougars went 15-0 last year en route to the school’s third state championship.

North Alabama schools are not represented in the 6A preseason top 10, but Hartselle, Fort Payne and Muscle Shoals all received votes:

  1. Clay-Chalkville (21)  15-0  252
  2. Mountain Brook  12-2  172
  3. Saraland  10-3  143
  4. Briarwood  10-2  121
  5. Hueytown  13-2  98
  6. Pike Road  14-0  93
  7. Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa  11-3  92
  8. Spanish Fort  10-2  60
  9. Gardendale  10-3  26
  10. Pinson Valley  9-4  25

Others receiving votes: Theodore (10-2) 23, Hartselle (10-1) 21, Gadsden City (5-5) 20, Helena (9-2) 14, Carver-Montgomery (5-6) 13, Fort Payne (6-5) 7, Parker (11-2) 5, Baldwin Co. (8-4) 4, Calera (7-4) 3, Muscle Shoals (9-2) 2, Oxford (7-5) 2, Homewood (6-6) 1.

Mark your calendar: Muscle Shoals hosts Hartselle Sept. 30.

Class 5A

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Guntersville is ranked 7th in the ASWA preseason 5A poll. (Guntersville High School via Facebook)

The Class 5A champion last season, Pike Road, has jumped to Class 6A, so no defending champion will play in 5A this season. Hence, the ASWA has UMS-Wright as the preseason top pick.

Guntersville, who went 9-2 last season, is picked 7th, and Russellville is ranked 9th. Other North Alabama schools receiving votes include Fairview, which had a great run last season with a 12-2 record, and Arab High School, which is a newcomer to Class 5A this year.

Here is the ASWA 5A top 10:

  1. UMS-Wright (12)  11-2  222
  2. Vigor (7)  14-1  202
  3. Ramsay  6-5  126
  4. Pleasant Grove (1)  12-2  102
  5. Alexandria (1)  11-1  76
  6. Leeds 10-2  75
  7. Guntersville  9-2  72
  8. Gulf Shores  6-4  69
  9. Russellville  9-3  63
  10. Central-Clay Co.  9-3  45

Others receiving votes: Fairview (12-2) 30, Arab (8-3) 29, Eufaula (5-6) 26, Greenville (8-4) 14, Moody (6-4) 13, Faith-Mobile (7-5) 12, Demopolis (7-5) 7, Southside-Gadsden (5-6) 7, Williamson (5-6) 6, Citronelle (3-7) 1.

Mark your calendar: Arab v. Guntersville, Oct. 14.

Class 4A

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Randolph looks to follow up last year’s 10-2 season. (Randolph School via Facebook)

The ASWA has 4A newcomer Catholic-Montgomery ranked first in the preseason poll, although seven different teams received first-place votes.

Randolph received 26 votes after the Raiders posted a 10-2 record in 2021, with Priceville, Brooks and Good Hope also receiving votes, but not quite making the top 10.

Here’s how the 4A top 10 looks:

  1. Catholic-Montgomery (8)  13-1  167
  2. Handley (4)  9-3  161
  3. Andalusia (2)  9-5  145
  4. Jacksonville (1)  7-4  122
  5. Northside (3)  10-2  112
  6. Montgomery Academy (1)  11-4  103
  7. Jackson  11-3  95
  8. Oneonta (2)  13-2  77
  9. Etowah  6-5  47
  10. Anniston  5-5  44

Others receiving votes: Randolph (10-2) 26, T.R. Miller (10-3) 21, Cherokee Co. (7-4) 18, American Christian (11-2) 13, Priceville (10-2) 12, Bayside Academy (9-3) 11, Brooks (12-1) 11, Good Hope (9-4) 7, Orange Beach (9-2) 5.

Mark your calendar: Randolph hosts Priceville Oct. 21.

Class 3A

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The Madison Academy Mustangs start the 2022 season in the top 10. (Madison Academy via Facebook)

Defending champion Piedmont received all of the first-place votes by the ASWA, which isn’t surprising since they have won four of the last seven Class 3A titles.

North Alabama is represented well, with Mars Hill Bible and Madison Academy in the top 10. Other North Alabama schools receiving votes are Lauderdale County, Geraldine and Sylvania.

  1. Piedmont (21)  13-2  252
  2. Gordo  9-3  112
  3. Mars Hill Bible  10-4  106
  4. Opp  9-3  100
  5. Alabama Christian  7-4  87
  6. St. James  10-2  86
  7. Mobile Christian  5-6  85
  8. Hillcrest-Evergreen  7-6  83
  9. Winfield 12-1  69
  10.  Madison Academy  12-2  68

Others receiving votes: Saks (12-2) 44, Flomaton (6-4) 23, Ohatchee (9-3) 21, Straughn (7-4) 20, Houston Academy (6-5) 12, Walter Wellborn (5-5) 9, Excel (6-4) 6, Lauderdale Co. (10-2) 6, Sylvania (8-3) 6, Geraldine (7-4) 2.

Mark your calendar: Mars Hill Bible plays Lauderdale County Oct. 14.

Class 2A

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Whitesburg Christian Academy will face Fyffe, the preseason no. 1 team in Class 2A. (Whitesburg Christian Academy via Facebook)

The Class 2A preseason top 10 is represented at the top by Fyffe, which posted a 10-2 record last year while playing in 3A. Also in the top 10 representing North Alabama is Pisgah, ranked 9th, and Cleveland, ranked 10th. Tanner received some votes, as well as Sand Rock.

Here is the Class 2A top 10:

  1. Fyffe (14)  10-2  230
  2. Clarke Co. (6)  13-2  202
  3. Lanett  10-3  143
  4. Ariton  10-2  142
  5. Highland Home (1)  8-6  115
  6. B.B. Comer  10-3  75
  7. Aliceville  8-4  69
  8. G.W. Long  8-2  53
  9. Pisgah  7-4  52
  10. Cleveland  12-3  44

Others receiving votes: Wicksburg (7-4) 31, Tanner (8-4) 26, J.U. Blacksher (4-7) 13, Sand Rock (7-4) 2.

Mark your calendar: Whitesburg Academy hosts Fyffe Sept. 9.

Class 1A

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Decatur Heritage is ranked 8th in the preseason 1A poll. (Decatur Heritage Christian Academy via Facebook)

The ASWA Class 1A top 10 is led by Brantley, who posted a 12-1 record last season, while defending champion Sweet Water is ranked 3rd.

Decatur Heritage made the top 10 after an impressive 10-3 season last year. The ASWA has the Eagles ranked 8th, and has Cedar Bluff ranked 10th.

North Alabama schools also receiving votes are Valley Head and Hackleburg. The top 10 looks like this:

  1. Brantley (7)  12-1  170
  2. Spring Garden (3)  12-1  167
  3. Sweet Water (6)  14-0  153
  4. Leroy (3)  2-8  151
  5. Wadley (1)  13-2  129
  6. Elba  10-2  108
  7. Pickens Co.  11-3  107
  8. Decatur Heritage  10-3  63
  9. Linden (1)  5-5  56
  10. Cedar Bluff  6-5  27

Others receiving votes: Valley Head (5-6) 23, Kinston (8-4) 18, Millry (8-4) 12, Maplesville (11-2) 8, Hackleburg (6-5) 3, Keith (10-2) 2.

Mark your calendar: Decatur Heritage takes on Cedar Bluff Sept. 16.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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