Spain Park makes big plays, prepares for future with spring game wins over Ramsay

Published 9:50 am Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HOOVER – The Spain Park Jaguars finished off spring football under the lights as it gave its fans a taste of what’s to come from their upcoming return to Class 6A.

Spain Park was the lone county team to host a spring game when it welcomed the Class 5A Ramsay Rams from across town to Hoover on Friday, May 17.

With the score resetting at halftime to allow both the starters and backups to get a clean slate, Spain Park won the first half 17-7 and took the second half 17-6.

The Jags started out the game on an explosive note when CJ Cowley took the opening handoff 82 yards for the touchdown to put Spain Park up early.

While that was Cowley’s lone carry of the game, Brock Bradley took control in the passing game to lead the Spain Park offense the rest of the way. The rising junior quarterback went 10-for-15 with 104 yards and a touchdown in the first half while also rushing twice for nine yards.

His passing touchdown went to Mitchell Frazer, who finished the half with three receptions for 56 yards and a score. Jaxon Haygood had a team-high four receptions for 29 yards.

In the second half, Hudson Hibbard took over in the quarterback spot as both teams made big lineup changes. He finished the half 9-for-15 for 74 yards and a four-yard touchdown pass to Eli Smallwood.

Smallwood was one of seven receivers to catch a pass from Hibbard in the half. Jace Mims got three catches for 20 yards, Connor Greb caught a 16-yard pass, Zion Mims had a 12-yard reception and Mason McClure, Charleston Gray and Jack Graham each caught a pass as well.

After Cowley and Dakarai Shanks carried the load in the backfield in the first half, five different Jags had a carry in the second half.

Gray found the end zone for Spain Park’s other second-half touchdown and finished the half with eight carries for 27 yards and a score. Jordan Howard had four carries for 42 yards and Kayden Corner and Nakia Ragsdale also got a pair of touches as well.

Defensively, the Jags limited Ramsay to 156 passing yards and 86 rushing yards. They were active in the turnover battle as well as Harris Gregory earned a forced fumble and Arnold Bush intercepted a pass.

Kicker Josh Tulloss was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points and hit 37 and 25-yard field goals.

Spain Park coach Tim Vakakes was impressed with his team’s effort against a winning program like Ramsay.

“I thought our kids played really hard,” Vakakes said. “I thought the effort was outstanding. Our kids played with toughness.”

For Vakakes, the game was a chance to see where the team is after losing starters on both sides of the ball. He said there were a lot of nerves in the younger players, but he was encouraged by what he saw and is glad to have the extra time to iron out the wrinkles and errors he did notice.

“There’s just a lot of newness, a lot of young guys and inexperienced guys that they had a chance to get out there and run around a little bit and I thought they did really well,” Vakakes said. “They played hard. They made plenty of mistakes, but mistakes that you expect them to make early on. I’d rather us find out the mistakes in May than wait till September to realize what we have. So, it’ll be a good measuring stick for us to kind of see what we have to get better in the summer.”

The Jags will open their return to Class 6A against back-to-back 7A schools, and they will first face Sparkman at home on Aug. 23.