Coolbaugh praises East Jackson team with eye toward ‘bright’ future
By Mike Moore
Jackson – When training camp officially opened, the East Jackson football team had all of 19 guys suited up and ready to battle.
A season after folding the program for one year, this was hardly anything to shrug at.
By the time Week 1 rolled around, though, the number of healthy bodies was down to 15.
At one point, it’s been as low as 13.
“But you know what, these guys never quit,” coach Tra Coolbaugh said. “We went into the first game with 15 guys, and we rushed for 250 yards and were in it for a while. That’s been the case all season. Yes, times are tough and they could very easily give up, but they don’t. They stick with it.”
And that’s where Coolbaugh said he’s gotten his greatest appreciation for this group.
Down and out so many times, battling bigger and better teams in games that are often lopsided sooner than later, the Trojans trudge forward.
“We’ve been down 40-0 and we’ve got our 15 guys battling,” Coolbaugh added. “I give this group a ton of credit. They say every week they want to go out and play. It’s tough to ask for more than that.”
The numbers aren’t pretty, nor surprising for a group with just one senior that’s played football before, and a roster made up of mostly sophomores.
Through six weeks, East Jackson is 0-6, has been outscored by 220 total points, been shutout three times and scored in double figures only once.
Yet, they trudge forward.
“They really don’t think about the numbers or being young or looking for excuses,” Coolbaugh said. “The guys know they have to improve. They focus on small goals to build on. A couple weeks ago we fumbled five times. Last week, we didn’t fumble at all. It’s small things like that we are getting better at.”
And getting better is the goal for this program, which has been the playoffs once and hasn’t won more than two games in a season since going 5-4 in 2011.
“The bright part is we have almost all of these guys coming back,” Coolbaugh said. “We’ll return our entire line, our running backs our quarterback. We’re going to get nothing but better. The future is very bright here, and we’re looking forward to it.”
The Trojans also have a 23-person roster at the junior varsity level, so reinforcements are only nine or 10 months away.
But as for this year and this group, one that will more than likely finish the year 0-9, but do so battling to the very end, Coolbaugh said he has nothing but pride to heave in their direction.
“I’ve told those guys I’m very proud of them,” he said. “They are playing for themselves, the school, and each other. They’ve come out and battled through some very tough times. We’re still tough on them. We’re still teaching and pushing them.”
The Trojans trudge forward.