Tuscaloosa, AL -- The Holy Spirit Saints (0-1) traveled to face the Tuscaloosa Academy Knights (1-0) Friday night to kickoff the 2022 season of Alabama high school football. Tuscaloosa Academy got out to an early lead and were up 35-0 at the half, but after a few big plays from Holy Spirit, the final score resulted in a 45-12 victory for the Knights.

Josh Wright's Tuscaloosa Academy put on a clinic in the first half putting up 35 points while also not allowing Holy Spirit to cross the 50-yard line. The Knights were lead by a running back tandem of seniors Jaydn Howard and Malachi Mckinney who combined for three total touchdowns.

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When asked about how his position group performed in the game, Howard said, "it feels good to see the younger guys looking up to me and taking what I do in practice and doing it on the field too."

The Knights also scored a touchdown through the air when quarterback Preston Lancaster found fellow sophomore Kaleb Colgrove on a 12-yard strike on what would be the last touchdown of the first half.

Holy Spirit struggled for much of the game against the reigning AISA 3A runners-up with head coach Bobby Snyder's team unable to make many gains early. However, after stopping TA late in the 3rd quarter on its own side of the field, Holy Spirit quarterback Kalen Oswalt completed his first pass of the game on 4th-and-20 to senior kicker Will Collins to give Holy Spirit its first touchdown since 2019.

Snyder showed no lack of confidence after loss and said, "we are just getting started, we're excited about who we are and I'm still excited.....that product that just left this field will win ball games this year. Mark my words."

"Will Collins is a special, special athlete....and we will definitely be using him (on our offense) in the future, " said Snyder when asked how his team will implement the senior kicker.

The bulk of the credit for Tuscaloosa Academy's success should be credited towards its defense and special teams units. The defense tallied a total of five sacks throughout the game including a strip sack and fumble recovery by junior linebacker Tristan Kegg.

Wright said, "we've got a lot (of) returning defensive starters...they were hungry and they got after it."

The specials teams came up big and often, and it started with a 55-yard punt return touchdown by senior wideout Luke Kilgore who tallied 95 all purpose yards in the first half. Kegg also played a major part in the special teams unit blocking a punt early in the second quarter deep in Holy Spirit territory to give his team great field position.

When asked what goes through his head during punt returns Kilgore said, "just going back to practice, we work on special teams so hard. We know that its one of the key phases of the game." Kilgore added that the team believes they can win the AHSAA state championship and that they "have made leaps and bounds" in terms of progress from last season.

Holy Spirit's senior running back Colby Phillips played a large part in the team's success during the game tallying 112 yards on the ground including an 80-yard touchdown run that gave the Saints back-to-back scoring drives in the 3rd quarter.

Wright and Tuscaloosa Academy will travel to face American Christian Academy to keep their win streak going next Friday.

Snyder and the Saints will look to win their first game of the season when they play host to South Lamar.

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