COLD SPRINGS — When Cold Springs’ first loss of the season became official on Friday night, the team’s mood immediately took a somber turn.
After the 28-7 fall to Sulligent High, coach Rod Elliott gathered his team and apologized to them.
“It’s on me,” he said to them, regarding the loss that included four fumbles, 55 yards in penalties and not a single reception on the night.
But the players were shaking their heads. They wouldn’t use that as an excuse for why they lost.
After Elliott dismissed his team, junior quarterback Logan Campbell immediately got his teammates around him with another message.
“On Monday, we’re going to work our tails off,” he told them.
For this team, one win isn’t near enough to satisfy them, and one loss isn’t near enough to put them back down.
“Our kids are great kids,” Elliott said. “They’re going to work hard, and they’re going to win football games this year. Our goal is to win next week. Our goal was to win tonight, and we didn’t get it done, but our goal is to win next week. We’ll work our tail off to do it.”
Elliott believes the only reason the Eagles (1-1, 0-1 in Class 2A, Region 4) lost was because of mental mistakes.
“We won the line of scrimmage most of the night,” he said. “We just turned the football over. Run five or six yards and then fumble the football. That’s not hard to correct. It’s not hard to show the kids where the mistakes were.”
On the first drive of the game, Cold Springs marched down the field on 13 plays for 69 yards to take a 7-0 lead, but then Sulligent responded in kind on its first possession to make it 7-7.
The Eagles’ first fumble came on their next possession, allowing Sulligent to take back over. Cold Springs had Sulligent in a third-and-28 situation midway through the second quarter, but Blue Devil quarterback LaDadrick Coleman got out of it by completing a 69-yard pass to Deon Jenkins to take a 14-7 lead.
“We give up a third-and-30 pass and let it go over our head, which is a mental mistake,” Elliott said. “You can’t make those mental mistakes and win. You’ve got to make third and 30. I’ve got to do a better job of making sure the kids know what we want in that situation.”
Campbell returned the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown, but it was waved off due to an illegal block penalty. With the touchdown nulled, Cold Springs turned the ball back over on downs.
“We got a little tired before halftime, and I didn’t think we were going to make it to halftime,” Elliott said. “We didn’t quite get to the football like we needed to on defense, but after that, the rest of the night, it was fine. That was a big part of it. They were tired.”
The second half yielded three more fumbles. Despite the miscues, Sulligent didn’t score on a single one of them. Even when the Blue Devils got the ball in the red zone on a muffed punt, the Eagles held strong and forced a turnover on downs.
On the night, Campbell went 0-for-3 in passing and was sacked on his fourth drop-back for six yards.
“A lot of times, you’ve got to get in position to throw it,” Elliott said. “We don’t like to throw it in difficult situations. There were a few times where the situation may have called for it, but we didn’t throw it for that reason. We just felt like something else would work.
“We don’t like to take a lot of chances throwing the ball in poor situations. We didn’t hold onto the ball long enough to put a lot of pressure of them in the passing game.”
Junior Caleb Ellison was the Eagles’ leading rusher with 53 yards on 14 carries. For the game, Cold Springs rushed for 150 yards. Campbell ran in the only touchdown from three yards out.
Sulligent’s Jenkins was the leading receiver and rusher with 94 yards in each category and also had one touchdown reception. Coleman was 5-for-9 on passing with 104 yards. The Blue Devils’ rushing total was 215 yards.
Another big number for Sulligent came from penalties. In the second half alone, it had 10 penalties, and total there were 14, backing the Blue Devils up 135 yards throughout the night.
Next week will be Cold Springs’ first away game. The team heads to Hale County for its second region game of the season.
% Laura Owens can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.