Nevada alum Sanderson gives Tigers pep talk
Former Nevada Tiger standout student-athlete Cole Sanderson was in town on fall break, stopping by Logan Field to give the Nevada Tiger football team a motivational talk at the conclusion of its Thursday practice.
Sanderson, who graduated in 2014, played linebacker, fullback and offensive line for the Tigers. Sanderson was a senior during Nevada head coach Erik Yoakam's first season with the Tigers.
The fifth-seeded Tigers (2-7) are set to square off against fourth-seeded Grandview High School in the opening round of the Missouri Class 4 District 6 playoffs, Saturday in Grandview.
Sanderson told the Tiger football squad he was familiar with Grandview, as the 2014 team played them in district-play with identical seeding to this year.
"One thing you need to know about Grandview is that they're going to play fast but they're not going to be disciplined," the NHS product said. "With a team that's not disciplined, you have to hit them in the mouth right off the bat and they're going to lay down."
Sanderson continued, "For you seniors, it might be your last time going out there ---- hopefully not, but you don't want to leave without giving everything you have."
Sanderson currently attends the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, where he plays the catcher position on the baseball team.
"A lot of guys don't go play a college sport," he said. "I did, but there's still nothing like high school football. All my buddies from high school that I talk to ---- they all miss it. So do everything you can, and give everything you have. Don't leave anything in the tank. You're going to miss it, so you might as well not have any regrets about it."
Sanderson told the Tigers to view district-play as a fresh slate.
"It's a new season starting tomorrow, everybody's record is zero and zero. It's a fresh start, so get after it and make everybody proud," Sanderson said to applause.
Yoakam told the Daily Mail that he tries to bring in a former player each week to give his squad a motivational speech, as he views it as a way to build tradition for the Tiger football program.
"Before the Springfield Central game (Sept. 23) we had some guys off the (undefeated) 1966 Nevada football team come in and give a talk," he said.
Despite Sanderson only playing one season at various offensive line positions, Yoakam said he's the best o-lineman he ever had. Sanderson had already played for two head football coaches prior to Yoakam's arrival in '14.
"It was a tough situation," Yoakam said. "Cole could have been an All-Area fullback. After three straight losses to open the season, Cole approached us and said, 'Hey, I want to play offensive line to help out.' And it wasn't much later that we went on a five game winning streak. Cole is a good role model for our kids."
Yoakam said Grandview is a big and athletic team.
"We're definitely going to have to contain their speed and tackle well on defense," he said. "Offensively, we're going to have to protect the ball. Three years ago against them, we marched the ball up and down the field, but we had seven turnovers, with four of them inside their 20-yard line."
Yoakam said he is confident his squad can get the victory if they play hard, physical and fast.
"We need to control the clock and really utilize our offense as defense," he said, "and try to speed up the game. The best defense is always your offense. So hopefully our offense can put together some drives and keep them from getting back on the field."
Yoakam said that after spending many hours scouting Grandview, that he has his game-plan in place.
"Defensively, they have a couple of D-1 (caliber) players," he said. "Cartez (Crook-Jones) is a very good player at defensive end for them. They have some very skilled defensive backs."
Grandview (3-7) is led by dual-threat quarterback Cirr Davis.
"(Davis) can be dangerous with his feet on the read-option play," Yoakam said. "They use a tailback by committee, running a couple different tailbacks in. And they have a good receiving core."
Yoakam said Grandview has some major size on the left side of its offensive line.
"Their left tackle is 6-foot-5 and weighs 315 pounds," he said. "Their left guard is 6-foot-4, 305. So they definitely have some size on one side of their line.
"We're going to key on (Davis) and try to make him panic a little bit, because he has this year at times. And he's made some mistakes against other teams.
The Tigers defense will be without a key contributor tonight, as safety Braxton Shadden is out with multiple injuries.