Conquerors hope to silence Thunder

Jacksonville Christian (1-6, 1-6) at Coosa Christian (1-6, 0-6)
Series record: Coosa Christian 8, Jacksonville Christian 6
Last meeting: 2011 Coosa Christian 42, Jacksonville Christian 6
Last week: Coosa 13, Shades Mountain Christian 7; Valley Head 54, Jacksonville Christian 35

    By Gene Stanley/Messenger Sports Correspondent

It’s amazing what a win will do for the attitude of high school football players.

Coosa Christian went into last week’s game winless but came away with a victory.

“It’s made practice a lot easier,” Conquerors coach Van Owens said. “The kids finally had the reward of a win and that made a lot of difference.”

Coosa had to hang on for the win, as Shades Mountain had a first down inside the Conqueror 15 late in the game. But Coosa held the Eagles and earned the victory.

“I’m more proud of that goal-line stand than anything,” Owens said of the win.

A few years back, in the heyday of eight-man football, Coosa Christian and Jacksonville Christian, coached by Owens and Tommy Miller, were two of the top teams in the state, year in and year out.

Fast forward to 2012, and both teams are playing 11-man ball in the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the same two coaches are in charge. The only difference is that both teams have struggled with numbers enough to struggle finding victories.

“It’s still a big rivalry game,” Owens said. “And it’s easy for the fans of both teams to get excited about it.”

After coaching the Conquerors from 1997-2000, Owens stepped down. Now he is in his second season back.

Meanwhile, Miller has become something of an institution at Jacksonville. Now in his 18th season heading up the Thunder, he has seen something that only a handful of coaches can claim – he has had the stadium named after him while he’s still coaching.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for coach Miller,” Owens said. “He’s like us in that he has limited numbers, but the guys he has are good athletes and they play hard.”

Against Shades Mountain last week, Austin Mills and Ben Mills each scored a touchdown, with Ben Mills running for the winning TD with 1:53 left in the game.

Austin Mills rushed for 249 yards on 21 carries, while Ben Mills gained 81 yards in 23 attempts. 

Ben Mills had 11 tackles, followed by Noah Williamson with eight and Jonah Mills with six.

Micah Mills had an interception.

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