MADISON, AL (WAFF) - Talk about friendly competition!
Some former high school teammates from Madison will be facing off against each other during the 2018 college football national championship.
Four standouts from James Clemens High School will be on the field.
Three play for the Crimson Tide and the other is a Georgia bulldog.
As head football coach Wade Waldrop looks at the names on the wall in the James Clemens field house, he beams with pride over what the star players have accomplished in high school and college.
"We're fortunate. We've got four young men that played here over the last three years that are playing in the game so it will definitely make it a game that everybody around here will want to watch," Waldrop said. "It's exciting for us to be a part of it with them. I know for those guys, especially the three freshmen that are there, it's great. A year ago, they were walking these halls and now they're playing for a national championship."
Labryan Ray was player of the year his senior year and his poster had to be extended to get all of his awards and accomplishments listed. He is a defensive end for Alabama
Kyriq McDonald is a defensive back for Alabama
"He had two unbelievable seasons for us here. The neat thing about him is that his brother is a scholarship football player at South Alabama so their mother is really proud. She has two sons playing college football," the coach stated.
Monty Rice is a linebacker for Georgia.
"He's played quite a bit this year. He got to start a couple of games and had a few injuries. He's on special teams right now, on the kickoff return team so he's getting some playing time and may find his way onto some other special teams. He's worked very hard," Waldrop said.
Ryan Parris is a long snapper for Alabama.
"He played center and offensive line for us but during his whole time here, his passion was long snapping and he got the opportunity to join the program two years ago and he does a great job. He's already won a national championship and SEC championship so he's getting to do this again," Waldrop added.
Michael Marlow, another James Clemens High School football alum, is also with the Alabama Crimson Tide. He works as a student assistant for the renowned program.
"These guys work so hard to be there. We know how far they came in the time they were at James Clemens, just in their high school career. We saw them mature during that time. We know how hard they worked to get there, what they put in, what their parents sacrificed and all the hours and practices, and all the different people- the teachers and counselors and administrators who touched their lives and helped them get there. It's exciting and it's exciting for everybody at the school," the coach said.
So what about the big game? We asked the coach which team he is going to be cheering for during the showdown for the national title.
"If one of these young men are on the field, we're going to hope that they do exactly what they're supposed to do to the best of their abilities and be happy with whatever the outcome is. So there's no real winner or loser. We're going to win either way," Waldrop stated.
He says the star athletes' work ethic pushed them to the top and that the Madison community will always support them.
"It just speaks to the level of work that these young men were able to put in is amazing. There are talented kids all over but these kids knew what they wanted to do, worked very hard to achieve those goals and ended up at places like Alabama and Georgia. It says a lot about them and their families. Three of them or one of them are going to get a ring out of it so it's exciting," he added.
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