COLD SPRINGS —
The culture at Cold Springs High is already changing.
Coach Rod Elliott has returned to coach the Eagles’ football team after a seven-year hiatus, and his new group of players have taken to him quickly.
“I’ve enjoyed working with him a lot,” junior Caleb Ellison said. “He’s actually into it. It feels like he enjoys it. He doesn’t just tell us what to do, he actually shows us what to do. He gets up there, and he gets in the plays and shows us what to do.”
Junior Logan Campbell said one thing Elliott made a point to do was go back through the fundamentals, particularly on defense.
“I think that’ll help a lot because there are people out here that don’t know the fundamentals real well, and no one’s ever tried to teach them,” Campbell said.
“He’s teaching us everything he knows about football. He’s doing a great job. Our defense is looking great this year.”
Likewise, Elliott has been pleased with how practice has gone so far this week, but he’s by no means satisfied.
“They’re not playing fast enough yet, but at the same time, it’s just the third day, so they’ll learn how to play faster as they go,” he said.
Elliott knows this team has it in them to win. While the Eagles’ last victory came in 2008, he believes these players have the talent to break the program’s 35-game losing streak.
“We have good football players here, and we’re going to expect our football players to play well,” he said. “They’re going to be taught well, and they’re going to do well.”
Not only does Elliott have confidence in his players’ talent, but he’s also confident in his own way of executing the game.
“If they’ll do the things we’re asking, we’re going to be successful,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”
One thing Elliott didn’t have to worry about developing in these players was their work ethic.
“I have seen a good work ethic,” he said. “I’m really proud of that. Another thing that goes along with winning football is having enough confidence. The fact that we haven’t won in three and a half years, confidence has been an issue in years past. But I do see some confidence.”
Also along the lines of having a good work ethic was the amount of players that showed up during summer workouts.
“Everyone’s gotten a lot stronger,” senior Nicholas Speer said. “We had most of the people show up for every one of them. I don’t think hardly anyone missed any of them. Most of the time, we rarely had anyone show up until Coach Elliott got here.”
There’s no one single player who’s more important than any other, according to Elliott. They’ll all be expected to contribute to the team’s success.
“We’ll rely on all of them,” he said. “I’d hate to single out kids. I can’t imagine, as it says in the Bible, would you rather have your arm cut off or your leg cut off or you eye plucked out or your ear gone? Which sense is most important? Well, they’re all equally important.”
Just as the coach expects the team to work as a unit, Ellison said the team has come together more as one.
“Since Coach Elliott’s been here, we’ve been a lot better at doing that,” he said. “Before Coach Elliott, we didn’t work together one squat bit, but now, we’re becoming a better team.”
Among his teammates, Campbell said he’s seen the seniors do a good job stepping up as leaders.
“We don’t have a bunch of seniors, but the ones we have stepped up and played their role,” he said. “We usually have one in about every position, and they’re helping us with what they know.”
Speer vouched for his class, saying they’ve been trying to help out the younger guys at practice.
“Telling them don’t give up,” he said. “If they mess up on a play, show them what they did wrong. Helping them run it until they get it right. Keeping them active in the weight room, staying after them there. Just pretty much giving them rides when they need it.”
% Editor’s note: Pick up the Football Fever special on Aug. 26 to see a team preview for Cold Springs, as well as the other eight schools in the Times’ coverage area.