By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In recent years, the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels have taken to the field on Friday night with a smaller roster than their opponents.
And that difference would take its toll after three competitive quarters and the Rebels’ opposition pulling away for victory. Since Head Coach Dodd Gengenbach has led the program, TRA has seen progress winning multiple games last season.
Now Gengenbach is entering his fourth season with a large group of upperclassmen with a full understanding of his methods.
“We’re optimistic especially this season because we have a good group of kids,” senior defensive back Sean O’Brien said. “And it’s going to be an older team. That might be a little harder down the road but this year is going to be a good year because we have a lot of experience. We’re going to play pretty good with anyone we face.”
TRA senior wide receiver Logan Mayo said the senior class will combine forces with the 11th graders to navigate the 2013 schedule and be leaders in the locker room.
“Our juniors are going to help us out tremendously,” he noted. “Our seniors are great leaders. We just have leaders among leaders which is great.”
Two of the leaders are Tyler Racicot and Hunter Wilson. The pair of linemen will establish the work ethic needed to have a winning record and reach the postseason.
“We need to work hard at practice and encourage the team to push through the pain to get through all the obstacles we have to overcome,” Wilson said. “It should be a good season.”
The Rebels will face league opponents like Fayette Academy, Rossville, USJ and St. George’s. And TRA will travel down to the Magnolia State for games and welcome some opponents from Mississippi early in the season.
“It is very important to start 1-0,” O’Brien said. “Especially going into that district game against Fayette. If we’re 2-0 by then, it will just lift the team’s spirit so much, especially when we get into those bigger league games. We need the momentum but we need to be focused and not overlook anyone.”
Other key players for the Rebels in 2013 will be quarterback Austin Chambers, who ranked in the top 20 in passing in the Shelby-Metro area. An all-purpose weapon for the Rebels will be junior Logan Stewart. And in the linebacking corps. Sean’s little brother Shane O’Brien will be an anchor.
The entire roster has the same focus heading into the season.
“Every game that we have is really another chance to say, ‘We’re here and ready to play,’” Mayor said. “We’re going to approach as that. We have a community to show that Tipton-Rosemark is here and we’re a different team. We’ve changed for the best.”
Wilson said another way to show everyone they’ve change for the best is reaching the postseason.
“I believe we can,” he concluded. “We’ve worked hard through spring practice and the offseason. And we’re going to do everything we can to make it to the playoffs. I know we can.”
TRA will host a jamboree Aug. 16 at Rebel Field. The Rebels kickoff 2013 with a trip to Tupelo Christian Academy Aug. 23 with a 7:30 p.m. start.