News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Time for a preseason test
Jamboree exhibitions help teams prepare for games that count

By Brooke Milam · 340-2460

One week from the season openers, high school football teams throughout the state will test themselves this week under the lights in jamboree games.

Most area schools will play a practice game this week, which will include most of the elements of a real game. With the lights, fans, referees and cheerleaders at the ready, players finally will suit up and tackle players from another team.

“It’s a glorified practice,” Athens coach Allen Creasy said. “Still, you try to win and put forth your best effort.”

His defending Class 5A state champion Golden Eagles will host 6A Grissom on Friday night at 7 p.m. in a jamboree contest.

Hartselle High coach Bob Godsey said that when his Tigers host Deshler on Thursday night at 7, the two schools have agreed to play varsity players in the first half and second-string players after halftime. Most jamboree games will follow a similar format, which is similar to spring practice games.

Godsey said even though it’s hard not to keep watch over the scoreboard, winning isn’t the most important part of these games.

“We don’t put a huge emphasis on winning the jamboree game, but anytime the scoreboard is on, you’re going to be aware of it and you want to win,” Godsey said.

Godsey said that one of the most productive elements of a jamboree game is to test young players in an environment similar to an actual varsity game.

He added that the most important objective in a jamboree game is “working out the kinks.”

With that in mind, Godsey said most coaches are looking for a quality opponent that will test their squad early and give them an idea of where they stand. Godsey said that with the strong schedule the Tigers face in 5A, Region 8, the game is crucial for preparation.

“The most important time in a season is between the first and second game, when you make those early mistakes and try to correct them,” Godsey said. “Jamboree games kind of let you take care of those mistakes early.”

Creasy said he looks for “a good solid program that’s going to be well prepared.”

While most schools are just looking for a quality opponent close to home to play a week before the season officially starts, some chose a rivalry that doesn’t appear on the regular-season schedule.

Class 1A Hazlewood travels to 3A Colbert County in a matchup of perennial powers separated by just eight miles. They have 17 state titles between them.

Class 1A R.A. Hubbard will play at 2A Tanner in another pairing of two established local programs. Tanner coach Laron White graduated from Courtland, which was the name of the high school before it moved to the R.A. Hubbard campus.

But again, the point is to prepare for the games that count.

“We’re going to be well prepared, and you look to play someone who is also going to be well prepared and disciplined,” Creasy said. “The point is for it to benefit both teams.”

Jamboree schedule

Thursday’s games

Austin at Cullman, 7 p.m.

Deshler at Hartselle, 7 p.m.

East Lawrence at Haleyville, 7 p.m.

Falkville at Elkmont, 6:30 p.m.

East Limestone at Hazel Green, 7 p.m.

R.A. Hubbard at Tanner, 6:30 p.m.

Lawrence County at Cordova, 7 p.m.

West Limestone at Priceville, 7 p.m.

Hatton at Vina, 7 p.m.

Friday’s games

Decatur at Bob Jones (Madison City Schools Stadium), 7 p.m.

Grissom at Athens, 7 p.m.

Brewer at Albertville, 7 p.m.

West Morgan and Clements at Central-Florence, 6 p.m.

Hazlewood at Colbert County, 7 p.m.

Addison at Parrish, 7 p.m.

Ardmore at Richland (Tenn.), 7:30 p.m.

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