As the fall sports season gets ready to crank up, Thunder Radio sports concludes our series of previews for the fall prep sports season. For the last 11 days, we have shown the spotlight on each of the 12 different local prep teams which will compete this fall. Today, we look at the Coffee County Central High School Red Raider football team.
The Red Raiders donned the pads on Monday morning for their first day of full contact work. Battling heat and contact restrictions, Coach Ryan Sulkowski begins his 4th season at the helm of the Red Raider program. “It was a little sluggish for a Monday, but overall I was pleased with the work of the 1st and 2nd groups” said Sulkowski when asked about the first day. Coach Sulkowski is pleased with the spring and summer workouts and feels that this year’s team is ahead of schedule when compared to his previous teams especially in leadership. “Not to take away from previous senior classes, but this year’s seniors are coaching the kids (and holding them accountable)” said Sulkowski. “Physically speaking and athletically, this is our best group in 4 years.”
You can’t begin any discussion of Coffee County without mentioning UT commitment and senior Alontae Taylor. Taylor is expected to begin the season at the wide receiver position, a position he is projected to play at the college level. “Obviously Colton Prater(Sr.) is doing a good job for us at the quarterback position” said Sulkowski but he quickly added that Taylor will line up at a variety of positions to year to get more touches and to serve as a decoy as well.
In the backfield, Sulkowski called out the performance of junior running back Byron Sullivan who is “running hard.” Senior Zach Vaughn has practiced well at the wide receiver position and will complement Taylor’s presence on the outside. Up front, Sulkowski was pleased with Tyler Luttrell(Soph) who appears to have nailed down the center position. Sulkowski said that he “likes the competition” amongst the other linemen as he considers their knowledge of the system as the best he has seen in his time at CHS.
Sulkowski and his staff are attempting to platoon this season and limit the number of players having to play on offense and defense when possible. On defense, a pair of seniors lead a strong linebacking corp as Cameron West and Deaaron Rozier have shined all summer. “They are running to the ball and their football acumen and athleticism are special” said Sulkowski. He went on to add that the defensive secondary is strong anchored by senior cornerback Keishaun Creel and sophomore cornerback Claudius Williams. He called out their knowledge of the defensive concepts and the ability to run “the system” as well as communicate and work as a team.
One additional benefit of platooning is the opportunity to work more with the freshmen and sophomores. The underclassmen are getting quality preparation and practice experience. Sulkowski was effusive in his praise for many of his younger players, especially freshmen who have stepped up this summer. Sulkowski praised the work of freshmen Bryce Damstra(OL/DL), C.J. Anderson(WR) and Matthew Pittman(QB) for their progress thus far. “I want our kids to continue to show up and be ready to work hard every day” added Sulkowski.
The Red Raiders open the season on August 18th when they travel to Winchester to take on Franklin County in a non-region game. The first home game for the Red Raiders is August 25th when Tullahoma visits Carden-Jarrell Field for the Coffee Pot Game. As always, Thunder Radio is the exclusive home of each and every Red Raider football game with Lucky Knott and Dustin Murray on the call. Additionally, the Ryan Sulkowski Show returns to Thunder Radio again this fall airing at 6 PM on Wednesday nights.