Photo: Rod Cates, who was recently hired as Coosa Christian head football coach, gathers with his family following a Coosa football game last year. Pictured, from left: daughter Caitlin, Rod Cates, son Caleb, son Cade, wife Rachael.
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
A new coach will roam the sidelines on Wills Creek Road this fall.
Coosa Christian recently hired Rod Cates to run the school’s football program, which last season went 7-4, fi-nished second in the region and made the Class 1A state playoffs for the third straight year. He replaces Nevandra Wood, who coached the Conquerors to an 11-11 record over the past two seasons.
Although Cates served as coach of the Coosa boys junior varsity basketball team the past two seasons, he ran the Westbrook Christian youth and middle school football programs for several years.
“I just have a passion working with kids and I enjoy football, and I thought the timing was right,” he said. “I’m sure coaching at the varsity level will be a little different, but I’ve got a strong staff, and I think we’ll be fine.”
Although mindful of the program’s recent success, Cates pointed out that the team lost 12 seniors, most of whom played both ways.
“We’ll have a lot of ninth and tenth graders, so we won’t have a lot of experience. Hopefully we’ll be fast learners. But we have a bunch of kids who are working hard and doing what we’re asking of them, so I’m happy with what we’ve got.”
Coosa Christian athletic director Kenneth Jacobs said that Cates’ positive interaction with the school’s student-athletes overrode the fact this will be Cates’ first season as a varsity head football coach.
“It’s important for us that we not only got a guy who knew his x’s and o’s but could relate to our school and out vision,” said Jacobs.” Rod checked both of those boxes. Hopefully it will be a successful thing for him, and I believe it will be. Friday night lights are a lot different that Saturday or Monday afternoons, but I think Rod can handle it. Out of everybody who applied, I believed he was the right man for the job right now.”
Jacobs added that he would serve on Cates’ staff to help with transition.
Much like his hiring of Garry Shirley as the school’s baseball coach earlier this year, Jacobs was looking for someone who would fit the bill as a Christian role model.
“We’ve got the best of both worlds here. Not only can we teach our kids about sports, we can teach the word of Jesus Christ. If you build a kid outside the fence, they’ll work for you inside the fence. Rod’s a good coach but an even a better man, and that’s what impressed me the most.”
A 1987 graduate of Cold Springs, Cates was a member of the school’s varsity football, basketball and track teams.
“My main goal is to teach these kids how to be Godly men,” he said. “Everything else will take care of itself.”
The Conquerors play Lynn in a spring scrimmage on May 18 at Jacksonville State.