High school football in Alabama is just over three weeks away, and preseason practice for AHSAA schools starts next week. As of today, every school in Tuscaloosa, from Central High on 15th Street to the Green Wave in Gordo has a clean slate. In honor of the 2021 season starting soon, Gary Harris had Northridge Jaguars’ head coach Mike Vickery on his show to preview the schedule.

At first glance, Northridge’s schedule can be a little surprising.

“Last year, we did have a shutdown mid-year and had to cancel a game at Hueytown. So, we will go back to Hueytown this year. We only have four home games,” Vickery said.

The “make-up game” against the Golden Gophers in Hueytown will take place on Friday, October 15.

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Regardless, Vickery clarified that the Jaguars and he will be glad to have a relatively normal season after 2020 that was full of constantly changing safety procedures.

“Well, that’s [COVID protocol] not something you want to do. It’s just so many changes in routine,” Vickery said. “[Football coaches] rely on routine and trying to make sure that the kids know where they’re going to be at all times.”

“The kids really had to learn to handle adversity from a scheduling standpoint,” Vickery said as a summary of the entirety of the 2020 season.

When it comes to the opponents on Northridge’s schedule, Vickery spoke highly of the other Tuscaloosa-area schools in Region 4.

“We’re one of the few regions that hasn’t really changed very much over the past five years. That creates some natural rivals here...It’s a nice mix in style of football and regional rivalries,” Vickery said. “You get to know each other a bit… It creates a lot of excitement.”

If Las Vegas carried odds on high school football, they would likely have the cross-town rival Hillcrest Patriots listed as the favorites to win the region. Vickery wouldn’t agree, but he still had positive words about last season’s area runner-ups.

“Hillcrest, obviously, has been the cream of the crop. They are consistently winning year-in and year-out.”

In addition to local region games, the Jaguars will be facing off against some other Druid City teams.

“Yeah, we’re really excited about our early schedule. We love playing Tuscaloosa-area teams. That is what I was really excited about last year was the opportunity to pick up Gordo and Sipsey and keep everything in west Alabama. Love those matchups.”

As for personnel, Vickery is excited about both his offensive and defensive line units. In fact, Vickery says that all but one offensive lineman will be returning for this season.

“We were a lot better last year in one area. We had some skill guys sprinkled in here and there to help compete at a high level. It was hard to compete no matter what if you don't have an offensive line to match that,” Vickery said. “Last year was the first year that we had a solid across-the-board five guys that were really good offensive linemen...All but one of those guys return.”

The wide receiver and running back rooms will also be points of strength for Northridge.

“We’re not replacing anyone this year from a skill standpoint - running back or wide receiver... We have everyone back,” Vickery said.

Before the Jags take on Sipsey Valley on Aug. 20th, make sure to check out TIDE 100.9’s preview of the Jags’ 2021 campaign.

Check out the full interview with Mike Vickery from Tuesday's Gary Harris Show below:


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