For a program that began in 2010, Saraland has proved they’re a program on the rise. In their first season, the Spartans finished with just three wins … since then, Saraland has advanced to the playoffs three straight years, including a trip to the state semi-finals last season.
“It is an exciting time of the year as a coach it’s my favorite time of the year, we’ve been going through off season workouts, we’ve been working hard, doing all of the things that we can do inside and in the weight room and now’s the time we can get out and throw the ball around and strap up the shoulder pads, do all those things. We want to see what our guy can do and a lot of our guys, like everybody else, they come in and they work in the weight room and in the offseason and now’s the time to go out and see how that players a little bit different than he was last year,” said head coach, Jeff Kelly.
“It’s my senior year so it’s very exciting for me and I’ve played since my freshman year, so I’m really looking forward to getting a ring this year. I feel like this is our strongest team since we’ve been here and I’m excited for that,” said fullback, Jeffrey Gatewood.
The Spartans will be tasked with replacing thee-year veteran quarterback Jay Ward. Ward will walk on at South Alabama this fall.
“He did an outstanding job, we feel good about where we are. Chris (Weaver) is a guy that played probably 30-40 percent of our snaps at QB last year and so it’s not like he’s not done it. Chris is going to be just fine. He’s going to get out there and compete and play hard and do all the things that we need him to do. Leadership is one of his strong points; we’re all on him real hard to be great leader there,” said Kelly of his new starting quarterback.
“I know there are high expectations to fill his spot. There’s huge responsibility, coach Kelly is always talking to me. How I need to lead more to show what I can do on the field and I know what he’s teaching me and what I’m doing is what needs to be done,” said Weaver.
Saraland’s loss last year to Spanish Fort in the state semi-final game has motivated to team to take that next step in 2014.
“It wasn’t good enough, we want a ring and we plan on getting it this year,” said Gatewood.
“I’ve always wanted to have a ring on my finger. We were close last year, we fell short, I would love to go back to that same day but we’ve got to work hard, stay I the weight room and we’ll be fine,” said Weaver.
“That’s why you do it. That’s why we do what we do. That’s why we work the long hours and push these kids to be the best they can be year round, to hopefully have that opportunity. And that’s something that every coach and player would love to do. I think if you get caught up looking at that as your goal, sometimes you can overlook some things. The thing that we need to be focused on is being the best player and best football team we can be week one and play our best football game that week one and then we’ll finish that game and we’ll turn around and do the best job we can do to prepare for week two and so we’ve got to take it week in and week out and if we do that, stay healthy and our guys become a team, then we’ll have a chance when it’s all said and done,” said Kelly.