Notasulga Poised to ‘Elevate’ in 2022

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2022-07-27 High School Media Days

By Harrison Tarr

For the Observer

NOTASULGA —

In the world of Alabama high school football, tradition reigns supreme. Athletes devote themselves to learning the history of their schools and to giving their best effort to return their respective programs to glory. The young men within the Notasulga Blue Devils program are prime examples.

Entering his eighth season as the head coach of the blue and black, Anthony Jones has always prided himself on preparing his group for not only the year at hand, but for the future of the program. He believes the class of 2023 is poised to elevate the standard.

“Those seniors we had in 2022 did a great job,” Jones said. “They went to the playoffs every year, at least the second round, won double-digit games a couple of years. But that’s history. Now it’s time for 2023 to lead. I think these guys are going to do a tremendous job.”

While maintaining faith in his senior class, the head coach keeps high hopes for the younger group as they navigate the ranks.

“I always say that Notasulga is young,” Jones said. “I will say it again, we’re young. We will always put eighth-graders, ninth-graders on the field; that’s how I am. If you can play, you can play. I’m going to put you in the fight, and that’s going to make you a better player.”

Jones believes that the most exciting younger athlete will continue to lead the Blue Devil offense in 2022: junior quarterback Elijah Rogers.

“What I’m excited to see is quarterback play,” Jones said. “(Rogers is) the guy. He works hard. I know that he wants to get better. Last year — as a sophomore — he had a pretty good campaign. He’s looking forward to his junior season; he’s starting to see things better, starting to read defenses better, he knows his check downs and he knows when he can throw the football.”

Behind the promising talent of Rogers, Notasulga believes that this year’s group will be responsible for breaking the curse of defeating region opponent Maplesville.

“First, we’re at home,” Jones said. “We play pretty good at home … this year the guys have to overcome — Maplesville — the name on the jersey. That’s the thing, I feel like we’ve got to be more confident with the name on our jersey, which is Notasulga.”

Looking beyond the highlyanalyzed matchup between the Blue Devils and the Red Devils of Maplesville, Jones’ group continues to have its work cut out for it.

“We’ve got a tough schedule this year for this young group,” Jones said. “The first annual Kickoff Classic will be Aug. 20. We open up against Lanett, and we think there’s going to be a big crowd out there on a Saturday.”

The longtime head coach remains optimistic that his guys are prepared to answer the call.

“I think — with no doubt — that we’ll be ready for the task,” Jones said. “We’ve been working hard, we’ve been in the weight room; that’s something that I’ve always stressed to these guys.”

The Blue Devils will open their season on Saturday, Aug. 20, when the group plays host to the Lanett Panthers in a matchup Notasulga has never captured a victory in. Jones and company will kick off their 2022 campaign at 7 p.m. CST.

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