By Mac McLeod,
While some things will change this season for the Overton County Junior Wildcats, some things will stay the same and it appears the answer to the old question of “Is change good?” will have to wait a while.
There is going to be a change at the Outlaws program and there will be several changes at the Junior Wildcats level. Joe Smith is taking over as coach of the Outlaws and Kevin Coffee is stepping in at the Junior Wildcats, replacing David Sadler II. Sadler is staying at the Jr. Wildcats program as an assistant coach, but will be the full time soccer coach at Livingston Academy.
“They didn’t have a girls soccer coach at LA, and my kids like to play soccer,” Sadler started out, “so rather than see the program fold, I applied for that job, but also told Kevin (Coffee) I would help him with the football program as well.
“I love football and am thankful I can do both, and I will give both my very best,” Sadler concluded.
For Coffee, taking over the head position with the Jr. Cats is just another step in his coaching career. Previously, he had coached seven years at Outlaws, and this will be his third season with the Jr. Cats.
“David has been a tremendous help getting me going as head coach,” Coffee said. “He knows all the things you have to do outside of just coaching, and that has really been a big help. Getting schedules, arranging a bus, getting physicals, getting parents involved, there’s all kinds of things that have to be done and David has really been a blessing in that area.
“And he’s a very good coach,” Coffee added.
Jordan Thrasher is returning to the coaching staff after a year off, and Jonathan Ramsey is also back to fill out the coaching spots.
And there’s more good news: This time around, there are more players. Last year the team would field only about 30 players, and this season, over 40 have reported to practice, with most expected to be around come opening day, August 8 at Macon County.
“We have 19 players back from last year and have a good crop of 7th and 8th graders out that have little or no experience, in addition to several very good prospects up from the Outlaws ranks.
“Right now, I’m excited about our team this season,” Coffee continued. “We have some big kids that have some good speed on both the offensive and defensive line and some good experience on both sides of the ball. We have a very good crop of running backs and some outstading receivers, so barring injuries, right now, I like our chances.
“Another thing that makes us optimistic is we have enough good players that only a very few will have to go both ways. We have good backups and kids that know most of the positions well enough to interchange with the starters,” the coach continued.
This year, the Jr. Cats will have the advantage of a seasoned quarterback in Brody Coffee. This is Coffee’s second year as signal caller and he is bigger and quicker and much more accurate in his passing.
“I’m eating three hamburgers a meal to gain a little weight,” the 6-1 Coffee smiled. “I can’t wait to get started this season. I think we have both the offense and defense to make a good run at the title.”
Parker Smith will anchor the offensive line at center, surrounded by Christian Pierce, Gage Huffman, Nathan Hargis, and Braxton Hammock with Will Brown, Carson Parrott, Braydon Story, John Geist, Jordan Ficklin, and Carson Riley at the receiver spots. Ficklin and Geist will go from the tight end position.
Last year, Wilson’s Mason Bowman was good for four or five touchdowns and four or five hundred running yards a game, but he’s now moved on to Monterey High School and Alex Sampson, Trey Coleman, Jake Hughes, and Bowman’s younger brother, Kole, will get the call to make the tough yards on the ground.
Defensively, Cayden Ray, Trey Coleman, Tripp Sadler, Carson Riley (safety), Brown, Hughes, Hargis, Hammock, Hoffman, and Sampson will all take turns on defense along with 7th graders Tayshawn Hayes and Jackson Garrett. Matthew Dial and Ellex Barlow are expected to work their way into backup role. Both are young, but eager to learn.
Overton County is once again in the eastern division of the Middle Tennessee Middle School Football Association and will be joined in the division by York, Stone Memorial, Avery Trace, and Cumberland. The western division is made up of Baxter, Trousdale, Smith County, and DeKalb.
Last season, Overton County went 5-2 in the regular season and were eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs by Avery Trace.
“I really like our chances this season,” Coffee concluded. “We have good numbers, good experience, and the attitude appears to be here to do good. We’ll start with that and see what happens. I guarantee one thing – it’s going to be fun to see how it all unfolds.”