By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Despite the various elements that come with the job, most who take on that challenge mark certain days on the calendar ready to jump back into the mix. For the Millington Trojan Football coaching staff and Head Coach Chris Michael July 22 couldn’t have come fast enough.
“Everybody is ready,” Michael said. “It’s that time of the year. If you’ve played or been involved in the game before, you’re ready for this time of the year.
“You’re just like the kids as coaches, you’re ready for the start,” he continued. “You start getting a little tingle in your belly and you’re ready to go. You can’t wait to see what the kids are going to put out there. It’s just countdown to that opening week.”
Before the Trojans open on the road at Liberty Tech Aug. 23 in Jackson, the Millington players made the shorter journey to the Millington First Baptist Church. From July 22-24, the players spent team-building time in the facility.
The staff of the First Baptist Church assisted in helping the Trojan Boosters and coaches in conducting the agenda for the players. Mixed in with the practices were spiritual, mental and emotional exercises to create more cohesion.
Michael said with slightly more than 40 players currently on the roster and a small 12th grade bunch, unity will be key for the Trojans in 2019.
“It’s a small senior group again,” he noted. “Last year we had maybe 15 seniors. About half of those were starters and key contributors. This year I don’t even know if we have double digits. We might have nine seniors. And a handful of them will be starters. But it is a small senior group.”
Michael said he has a quality group of seniors who are ready to repeat as Region 8-4A champions. The league and overall schedule has a new look.
Gone are juggernauts like Raleigh-Egypt, St. Benedict, Dyersburg and Germantown. Repeats on the schedule will be rivals the Munford Cougars and league opponents the Fayette-Ware Wildcats and the Craigmont Chiefs.
The Bolton Wildcats will be on the docket again but with more importance after joining Region 8-4A.
“Those seniors are anticipating a good year,” Michael said. “Their eyes are trying to repeat as ‘district’ champions. There are a lot of unknowns because of schedule changes. It’s positive and optimistic because we had faced some real uphill battle the past few years with our schedules.
“With the new schedule and not knowing a lot about them,” he added, “there’s the excitement and anticipation about how they are like, what do they like to do and what else we have to learn about them.”
Michael said his team will approach each game with a sense of urgency, especially the Region battles.
“The league we know it’s going to be with Craigmont and Fayette-Ware,” he noted. “We’ve lost East. Bolton came in and they’re a common foe. Coach Marshall has taken over, over there. And they’ll have a new look. There will be a renewed excitement over there.”
Michael said the goal will be to repeat in league and earn a home playoff game. Then the Trojans will roll the dices come November. But as for the time spent at the First Baptist Church in July, Michaels wanted to establish quality over quantity.
“You’ve got a lot of kids who know each other but they don’t know each other,” he said. “You’ve got incoming ninth graders who are here. There’s a few of them sprinkled in. You’ve got some kids who are coming into their sophomore year from their freshman year. They feel they are more valuable and will be a bigger part.
“As the older kids step into their new roles as being leaders, they are going to try to learn more about their younger teammates,” Michael concluded “What are these kids all about? Who are they? What are their personalities like? How are they going to be when we’re out here working and times get tough? Are they guys we can trust when the fire gets hot? So I hope they learn about each other.”