Photo by Ted Melton
Spain Park Football
Wide receiver Thomas Jordan will be a top target for the Jags in 2016. He is shown in a game last fall.
In 2015, the Spain Park High School football team came within ticks of winning the program’s first state title.
But the Jags' past success, head coach Shawn Raney said, won't define them moving forward.
"In my opinion, we haven’t done anything really,” Raney said. “The objective is to have a ring on your finger.”
Now, after a nine-month offseason, the Jags are ready to start writing the next chapter of their legacy.
On Friday, Aug. 19, Spain Park will open its 2016 season on the road against Gadsden City. The Titans went 5-5 last season, and missed out on the Class 7A state playoffs.
Raney said he feels sure that Gadsden City will bring its A-game to the season-opening matchup, especially since it’s been given the chance to host a defending 7A state finalist.
“We better be ready to go because we’ll walk into a hornet’s nest that night,” Raney said. “They’ve been targeting this game. That’s been their motto throughout their offseason, I’m sure.”
The Jags and Titans have faced each other twice before on the gridiron, with their last meeting coming in 2009. Spain Park fell to Gadsden City, 49-32, in the third round of the state playoffs. Gadsden City then lost to Hoover in the state semifinals, 35-0.
In the teams’ only other meeting, Spain Park bested Gadsden City, 31-23, in the second round of the 2007 state playoffs. Spain Park advanced to the state final that season, but lost to Prattville, 14-0.
Spain Park kicked off its 2015 regular season campaign with a triple-overtime loss at Austin. The Jags fell 38-35, but Raney said he felt better about the state of his team after that loss than he did when his Jags beat Austin in the 2014 season opener, 5-3.
Entering 2016, Raney said he is more concerned with his team’s preparation and personality than he is with a fast start.
“To me, that’s a lot more important than if we go to Gadsden and get beat because we can always fix stuff if the kids are willing to fix it, willing to be coachable,” Raney said.
Kickoff at Gadsden City's Titan Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.
For an in-depth look at the Jags’ upcoming slate, check out the team’s 2016 season preview, as featured in the Starnes Publishing prep football preview magazine.