MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Christian Academy Eagles had a strong 2017 season and have several of its top players returning. In a season in which the Eagles went 10-3 under head coach Nate Sanford, they reeled off seven consecutive wins at one point en route to making the 4A playoffs before a loss to Andalusia ended their season.
In all 10 of their wins last year, the Eagles scored more than 30 points, and will have their starting quarterback returning, so there's good reason to believe ACA can return to form.
"When we're doing things right on offense, we expect to be difficult to stop," said coach Sanford.
In terms of the attitude this off-season, the team isn't focused on last season or even wins or losses, but on each individual day forward.
"This year's focus every day is getting better every day, There's no focus on winning or losing," said Sanford.
Sanford said the culture that they have at ACA keeps the focus off of winning and losing, and more on improving and being together and enjoying the process. He said the journey is the great part of the season.
Sanford said he is a strong believer in knowing who you are and being as good a version of yourself as you can.
Hopefully this is true for upcoming senior quarterback Reece Solar. Solar was one of the impact players coach Sanford mentioned and is returning after an injury ended his season last year.
Sanford described his returning starting quarterback as being very introspective. He said Solar isn't as vocal as some leaders but is vocal and leads the team in the way they need him to. Of Solar Sanford said he's extremely competitive and takes pride in everything he does.
An under-the-radar guy that Sanford said will make an impact on Friday nights is his team's leading tackler. He comes in the form of senior middle linebacker Dawson Locklier.
Sanford called Locklier a "good leader" and while he said Locklier isn't spectacular, Sanford said his defensive leader is very aggressive and plays with emotion. He said of Locklier, "He loves football. He loves the process."
Of the most talented guys, Sanford said that title would go to Garrett Cottington who plays a myriad of positions. For the Eagles, the "instinctive" Cottington can line up at defensive end, outside or inside linebacker and is a two-way player playing H-Back in ACA's explosive offense.
Senior offensive lineman Jackson Duke was called the "best" that Sanford has seen in 20 years and was described as a "fine technician."
Transfer student Bryan Farrington, whom Sanford calls "a natural," is expected to step in and make a huge impact for the Eagles. Sanford said Farrington easily fit into the culture they have on the team.
When asked about what he enjoys most about being the head coach at ACA, Sanford mentioned the pride he and his coaching staff takes in their players. While he said they aren't out on the field with water guns, they are having fun and getting better at the same time. He mentioned the team's motto includes, "A Job well done is a job done right."
"I've never had a morning where I wasn't thrilled to go to work," Sanford said.
ACA opens their 2018 season at home against Saks Aug. 24.