The 2022 high school football schedule officially kicks off in Alabama later this week.
From Week 1 – or Week 0 as it is deemed by the Alabama High School Athletic Association – to the final week of the regular season, there are intriguing matchups throughout the state.
Here are 22 games in 2022 that you should care about and why.
Games are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Gulf Shores at St. Michael
Mark Hudspeth (Gulf Shores) vs. Philip Rivers (St. Michael) at Fairhope Municipal Stadium. Hudspeth’s Dolphins include talented athletes Ronnie Royal III and JR Gardner and Spanish Fort transfer QB Brendon Byrd. The Cardinals, in Rivers’ second season, counter with QB Josh Murphy and RB Ezra Sexton.
Auburn vs. Hoover
The second night of the AHSAA’s Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery pits No. 3 Auburn against No. 5 Hoover, two of the state’s annual 7A state title contenders. Both teams reached the semifinals a year ago. First game for new Hoover coach Wade Waldrop.
Briarwood Christian at Clay-Chalkville
Reigning Class 6A champ Clay-Chalkville takes a 15-game winning streak into its opener against the state’s top senior quarterback, Christopher Vizzina. The Cougars will try to reload for another title run with star junior receivers Mario Craver and Jaylen Mbakwe (Alabama commit).
Hewitt-Trussville at Central-Phenix City
Star-studded opener in Phenix City between the second-ranked Red Devils and fourth-ranked Huskies. Central finished as the state runner-up a year ago behind Thompson. Patrick Nix’s roster includes Auburn WR commit Karmello English, Georgia DB commit AJ Harris and former Penn State commit Tomarrion Parker. Josh Floyd’s Hewitt roster includes Alabama DL commit Hunter Osborne, South Florida DL commit Connor Knight and highly rated DB Rickey Gibson.
Thompson vs. Buford, Ga. (4 p.m.)
Mark Freeman and Thompson travel to Alpharetta, Ga., to participate in the 2022 Freedom Bowl. The Warriors have won the last three Class 7A titles and this year’s roster includes top prospects Peter Woods (Clemson commit) and Tony Mitchell (Alabama). However, Buford is loaded as well with Alabama senior RB commit Justice Haynes and three of the top juniors in Georgia in S KJ Bolden, EDGE Eddrick Houston and ATH KingJoseph Edwards.
Vigor at Blount
They will pack Blount Stadium for the annual Battle of Prichard. Both teams have new coaches – Josh Harris at Blount and Markus Cook at Vigor. The Wolves are moving up to Class 5A after winning the Class 4A state title a year ago. Michael Towner Jr. is one of nine starters returning on the Vigor defense.
Daphne at Carver-Montgomery
Interesting non-region matchup as the Trojans travel to Montgomery. Kenny King’s team has a new quarterback in Saraland transfer Gabe Reynolds. Carver boasts two of the state’s top senior prospects on its defensive front in James Smith and Qua Russaw.
Clay-Chalkville at Hueytown
Rematch of last year’s Class 6A championship game, won by the Cougars in a 46-42 shootout. The Golden Gophers will try to take the rematch behind reigning 6A Player of the Year Earl Woods. The senior finished with 112 yards rushing and 246 yards passing and three TDS in the title game.
Fyffe at Geraldine
A bit of a revenge game for Fyffe. The Bulldogs beat the Red Devils 20-19 a year ago, ending Fyffe’s nation-best 51 game win streak. Fyffe’s Paul Benefield was voted the best active coach in the state by his peers on an AL.com summer survey. The Red Devils enter the season as the No. 1 team in Class 2A.
James Clemens at Mountain Brook
South Alabama QB commit Gio Lopez and James Clemens travel south to take on the always tough Mountain Brook defense. The Jets enter the season ranked No. 6 in Class 7A. Chris Yeager’s Spartans are No. 2 in 6A.
Lipscomb Academy at Thompson (8 p.m.)
Thompson’s second high-profile out-of-state matchup in two weeks will be televised nationally by ESPNU. Lipscomb Academy is coached by former NFL veteran and Super Bowl winning quarterback Trent Dilfer, who led the Mustangs to a state title last season, their first since 2007.
Spanish Fort at Saraland
This annual Class 6A, Region 1 battle has a different flavor in 2022. Chase Smith has replaced Ben Blackmon as head coach at Spanish Fort. Also gone from the Toros is QB Brendon Byrd, who transferred to Gulf Shores after starting 27 straight games at Spanish Fort. The Spartans have three of the best sophomores in the state in QB KJ Lacey, WR Ryan Williams and RB Santae McWilliams Jr.
Florence at James Clemens
Alabama DB commit Jahlil Hurley and the Falcons square off against South Alabama QB commit Gio Lopez and Class 7A No. 6 James Clemens. The Jets won a 45-42 thriller a year ago when Aaron Rowe kicked a 32-yard field goal with nine seconds left.
Vigor at UMS-Wright
These two teams open the season ranked No. 1 (UMS) and No. 2 (Vigor) in Class 5A. The Wolves won the Class 4A title a year ago before moving up a class. UMS has won eight titles under Hall of Fame coach Terry Curtis. The two Mobile-area schools haven’t played since 2007.
Clay-Chalkville at Thompson
The reigning champs from the state’s two largest classifications meet in a non-region game. Clay went 15-0 and won the 6A title a year ago. Thompson has won the last three 7A titles and is trying to become the first team to win four straight. Prospects all over the field in this one.
IMG Academy at Central-Phenix City
IMG and Central-Phenix City will meet in a game set to be nationally televised by ESPNU. IMG defeated Auburn 27-17 last year. This year’s IMG team includes nine players ranked among the ESPN 300 seniors and 10 in the ESPN junior class.
Montgomery Academy at Montgomery Catholic
The two rivals met twice a year ago. Catholic rolled over MA 42-0 in the regular season, before the Eagles turned the tables in the playoffs. MA shocked the Knights 10-7 in the state semifinals. Both teams moved up to 4A in the offseason. Catholic enters the season No. 1 despite the jump. Montgomery Academy is No. 6.
Opelika at Auburn
One of the state’s best rivalries year in and year out. This year, Erik Speakman’s Bulldogs move up from 6A to join Auburn in Class 7A, Region 2. That should only add intensity to this annual fight. Keith Etheredge’s Tigers won 16-14 at Opelika a year ago.
Auburn at Central-Phenix City
Another prospect-filled Class 7A, Region 2 game. Top recruits involved included Auburn’s Bradyn Joiner and Central-Phenix City’s Tomarrion Parker, AJ Harris and Karmello English. The Red Devils swept the Tigers a year ago, winning 21-7 during the season and 28-17 in the 7A semifinals.
Pike Road at Carver-Montgomery
Reigning 5A champ Pike Road moves up to Class 6A with new coach Ed Rigby. The Patriots still have plenty of talent, including sophomore sensation RB Anthony Rogers and senior OT Vysen Lang. Carver counters with top prospects James Smith and Qua Russaw on the defensive front line.
Hoover at Thompson
The state’s high school coaches just voted this the top rivalry in the state. The stakes are always high. The teams have met in the Class 7A state semifinals five straight years with Thompson winning the last four. The Bucs won 24-21 in the regular-season finale in 2021 before Thompson bounced back for a 35-10 win in the semifinals.
Saraland at Theodore
This game could decide the Class 6A, Region 1 champ. The Bobcats, a perennial playoff contender in Class 7A, drop down into the ultra-competitive 6A, Region 1 this year. Eric Collier’s team includes Southern Miss DB/ATH commit Will James. Jeff Kelly’s Spartans are loaded with young talent.
MORE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COVERAGE