2023 High School Football Preview: Gadsden City taking it “step by step”

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Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy 

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Gadsden City made a big splash last year during its first season in Class 6A, going 7-5 and undefeated in Region 8 on the way to the program’s first winning season and first playoff berth in six years.
Fifth-year head coach Ali Smith would like to see his 2023 team sustain the above success while not making the same mistakes twice.
“One of the biggest things we’re trying to figure out is why we lost those five games. Second, we need to find a way not to lose those games this year and see how we can finish,” he said.
Gadsden City had 15 seniors on the roster until All-State, All-Region and All-Messenger punter Gabriel Brito sustained a season-ending injury this past spring.
The Titans have only six returning starters, four on defense and two on offense.
“Offensively, we have a lot of guys at the skill positions who played a ton but did not start,” Smith pointed out. “What we need to do is figure out is how to get them all out in space and get them the ball.”
Gadsden City is fortunate to have two viable options at signal caller.
Matthew Sparks is coming off a sophomore season that saw him throw for 1,334 yards and 14 touchdowns and make all-region honorable mention.
Senior Luke Waldrop, who missed most of the 2022 season due to injury, enjoyed a solid sophomore campaign that included 1,511 passing yards and 11 TDs.
“The biggest thing for us with these two guys is that they both work their tails off, both are very competitive and both want to win,” said Smith. “These two are one of our best 11 guys, so we’ll get creative to make sure we get them both on the field.”
The Titans have experience at running back with junior T.J. Worthy, who rushed for 656 yards and four touchdowns.
“I think we have one of the best running backs in 6A in T.J.,” said Smith. “He really found himself in the second half of last season, and I think there are really big things to come for him.”
Senior All-Region tackle Kileque Jones should provide stability for a youth offensive line.
Highlighting the defense is senior All-State and All-Region safety/kickoff returner/punt returner Dre Kirkpatrick, who is attracting attention from several DI colleges. Kirkpatrick last season finished with 73 tackles and three interceptions.
Other key contributors on defense are expected to be senior All-Region lineman Jerrell Brasher and All-Region senior linebacker Kevin Brooks.
The Titans’ Class 6A Region 8 competition remains Buckhorn, Fort Payne, Hazel Green, Mae Jemison and Lee-Huntsville. GCHS opens the season on August 25 at Carver-Montgomery.
“We look forward to the challenges that we face this year in terms of our schedule,” said Smith. “I think our kids understand the process, the hard work that goes in and the competitive nature of the sport. They also understand the importance of holding each other accountable. Right now, we feel good about going out and competing. We have a young and talented football team that is going to be exciting to watch, and we just want to take it week by week and step by step.”
Lindsey Frazier contributed to this article. 

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