E.A. Sports Today

Saks: No slowing down

Saks coach Jonathan Miller goes over the day's schedule before sending his Wildcats through practice.

Saks coach Jonathan Miller goes over the day’s schedule before sending his Wildcats through practice.

Up-tempo Wildcats looking to take the next step after reaching state semifinals last season

Editor’s Note: This is another story in the series of previews of Calhoun County high school football teams.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It was the first day of camp and you would expect the excitement level to be high, and on the practice field at Saks it was.

The players ran through the tunnel and onto the field. They ran to their position drills. They ran to get water. Heck, they even ran when they were trying to decide what to do next.

There’s been no slowing down on coach Jonathan Miller’s watch — and there won’t be.

“We just want to establish the tempo we’re going to practice at; we move quickly,” Miller said. “We’ve been no huddle the last two years, but last year we really picked up the pace. We had some depth, a pretty good team and wanted to get as many possessions as we could. We’re going to try to go as fast as we did last year.

“Our kids believe in it and they enjoy it – that’s the main thing. The linemen gripe about it a little bit in practice when they’re sucking wind, but if we take too long getting a play into them they motion to sideline they want to go. Our kids enjoy it. They just like our system.”

The idea is keep up or get left behind, and the Wildcats have passed a lot of people in Miller’s two seasons. They went 13-1 last year, tying the school record for wins and setting the school record for points (595). Their 21-4 record in Miller’s tenure is the best back-to-back years in school history.

Last year they came so close to the ultimate prize they almost could taste it. They made it all the way to the Class 3A state semifinals and had the lead on Madison Academy going into the fourth quarter before losing 31-21.

They finished the season ranked third in the state and start this year ranked sixth in Class 4A after reclassification.

Coming that close to the brass ring has made them even hungrier in 2014.

“Of course the kids are looking to get back to that point, but as coaches you’ve got to make sure they’re not complacent,” Miller said. “We didn’t get there by luck. We didn’t get there by slacking off and not working.

“We’ve got to keep them focused on the day-to-day and not looking ahead. If we do that, then maybe we can compete for a region title and have a good showing in the playoffs. We’ll talk about the things we did to put us in that position last year and they know that’s the thing that got us there. There are some good talking points for us.”

The Wildcats lost a core of seniors Miller said would be “hard to replace,” not the least of which was All-State quarterback Tre Smith, who took his skills to Central Arkansas, but they also return a lot.

Receiver Devin Harris will move under center after a big year in a “slash” role and Miller anticipates he’ll handle the transition just fine. He’ll double as starting outside linebacker.

They also bring back All-State offensive lineman Austin Kilgore, Monty Young and Austin Hobbs, WR-DB Darion Coleman, running back Calvin Figueroa, versatile Demetrius Powell, LB Raekwon Blake and CB Quinn Smith.
“Last year’s team had more depth; we could handle an injury or two and plug guys in and not really miss a beat,” Miller said. “This year we’re not going to have nearly as much depth (but) in August we’re going to work and develop as much as we can. We’ve got some younger guys we like; they have to step forward in August.

“I think we’ll have a decent year this year. We’ll have a few questions to answer with our younger groups, but we’re going to work to develop those guys and see what happens.”

Al Muskewitz is Content Editor/Senior Writer of East Alabama Sports Today. He can be reached at musky@wrightmediacorp.com and followed on Twitter @easportstoday1.


Aug. 29 — Wellborn
Sept. 5 — Sardis
Sept. 12 — at Cherokee County
Sept. 19 — at White Plains
Sept. 26 — at Weaver
Oct. 3 — Crossville
Oct. 10 — at Hokes Bluff
Oct. 17 — at Cleburne County
Oct. 24 — Jacksonville
Oct. 31 — LaFayette

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