(WHNT) – Episode 21 of On the Road with Olivia and Claudia features the Athens Golden Eagles and the Decatur Heritage Christian Academy Eagles.
Starting off with Cody Gross and his Golden Eagles, he brings back a good amount of experience from last year’s young squad. Now, he said he feels pretty confident with what talent he has on both sides of the ball.
“I would say one of our strengths will be our receiving core, a lot of seniors there, very, very deep there, got a couple of offensive linemen that are returning as starters, returning quarterback will be a junior. Defensively, we’ve got some experience at safety, a little bit in the defensive line but we’re pretty young everywhere else but I really like this team,” Gross said.
The Golden Eagles went through some growing pains early last season but then they rattled off three straight wins, including a huge comeback win over Russellville to end the year and finish the season with a 5-5 record.
That has helped motivate this group during the offseason and Gross is ready to see it all come together on the field.
“It did build us some momentum. It would have been rough going into the offseason, the way that half was against Russellville. So, it helped us get through the winter but once we got through the winter and got into spring training, summer and all that stuff, I think all that’s kind of behind us. We’ve had the most competitive and most physical practices that we’ve had in a couple of years, and that’s a good thing because the last couple of years have not been good. So, I like the competitive spirit, kind of the grit that this team has, we’ve just got to show it on Friday nights,” Gross added.
Moving over to Decatur Heritage, it’s year two for Nikita Stover. The Eagles went 4-6 last season, and Stover said he learned a lot in his first year as head coach.
“You have expectations, you want it to go a certain way but it doesn’t always go that way. This year we’re playing a little differently as far as what we have coming back, the things that we did in the summer, just the expectations of now knowing what can happen,” Stover said.
Stover had a very young team last year, playing mostly eighth and 10th graders and the team lost just three seniors. Now with some experience, Stover is excited to see what this young group can do.
“Last year we lost four games by a combined 21 points so it was finishing and we basically had a junior varsity age roster playing a varsity schedule and teaching them finishing this year. I think that will be the biggest difference this upcoming season. We’ve got guys in place that are seniors this year that can really step up and that’s what we’re looking to build off of,” Stover added.
Decatur Heritage will open the season by hosting Section on Friday, while Athens will play at East Limestone on Thursday.