2016 Messenger Football Preview: new leaves are turning over in Conqueror country

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By Chris McCarthy
Publisher/Editor

New Coosa Christian football coach Chris Sanders is teaching his team to pay attention to detail in an effort to get back in the winning column.
“If we can do that and limit mistakes, that is half the battle,” he said. “I want us to focus on one thing and get great at it before moving on to something else.”
Sanders was elevated to head coach just last week after Navendra Woods stepped down due to personal reasons.
The Conquerors will field an 18-man roster, meaning virtually every member of the team will play both ways. Sanders, however, does not want to use lack of depth as an excuse.
“On every play, I want to see toughness and I want to see us fight. As long as we fight to the last whistle, I think we’ll have a chance.”
Although the Conquerors went winless last fall and haven’t won a game since Week 4 of the 2014 season, Sanders and his staff have been stressing to the team to forget about the past and put all the focus on the here and now.
“I think that everybody’s just looking for a fresh start,” he said. “We’re preaching to the kids that what happened in the past is in the past.
“This is a brand new coaching staff that’s going to give these kids the opportunity to show us what they’re made of.
“It’s our responsibility to put them in the right position to make them successful.”
Key returnees include sophomore quarterback/linebacker Caden Lipscomb, who passed for 596 yards and had 50 tackles; junior tight end/linebacker Jackson Justus, who had 18 receptions last season; and junior lineman Emory Kitchens, who had 41 tackles.
Receiver/defensive back Caleb Garrett is the team’s lone senior.
“That’s the core leadership of the team right there, and I expect them to set the tempo,” said Sanders. “I expect them to lead not just vocally but by example.
“Lipscomb will be our leader on defense as well as offense,” he added. “As far as Caden goes, the team goes. I expect him to set the bar for us, and set that bar high.”
Coosa moves from Class 1A, Region 7 to Region 6, where the preseason-ranked Cedar Bluff (No. 2) and Spring Garden (No. 6) loom on the schedule.
“As far as I’m concerned, Cedar Bluff is the benchmark that everyone else grades themselves against,” said Sanders. “Spring Garden has been coming on lately, and hopefully in a year or so, we’ll be on the same path that they’re on. I’m really looking forward to seeing how we measure up against some pretty stiff competition.”
Stan Veitch contributed to this article.

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