Nevada alum Sanderson excited to join Tiger football staff
Upon graduating from Nevada High School in 2014 Cole Sanderson was off to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College on a baseball scholarship, then to the University of Central Oklahoma. Now he’s back at his alma matter as a member of the NHS football coaching staff.
Sanderson was a part of Nevada football’s most recent golden period, when the Tigers went a combined 14-7 during his sophomore and junior campaigns in the fall of 2011 and 2012. Sanderson opened his prep career as a fullback on NHS head coach Wes Beachler’s squads, before eventually transitioning to offensive line his senior season. A two-way player, Sanderson was also a four-year outside linebacker.
“Even if he didn’t know football, he’s worth having around because of his character, work-ethic, and integrity,” Beachler told the Daily Mail. “With those three things, he knows football. So I think it’s one of the best assistant coaching hires we’ve probably made here in recent history. He’s just an outstanding guy to have on board. And, he played for me. So he understands the system, he understands my expectations. He’s a great pickup."
Sanderson said his fondest memory from his NHS playing days was being part of a dramatic turnaround his sophomore and junior seasons, marking Beachler’s first stint as head coach of the program. The Tigers were fresh off a winless season prior to Beachler’s arrival in 2011.
“Just being a part of the shift in the program,” Sanderson said. “Going from a team that went 0-10 my freshman year, to having some success when Beachler came here my sophomore and junior year, and just kind of changing the outlook of the program.”
After a 5-6 season, which included a resounding playoff victory in the first year of Beachler’s second stint back with the program in 2017, the Tigers followed up with a 1-9 season last year, and are in the midst of a rebuild that is eerily reminiscent to the early part of the decade.
“He came into a situation where we had a lot of kids that love football, and we just needed a little direction, we needed some attention to detail,” began Sanderson of the 2011 team. “He brings excitement to football, attention to detail, and discipline. (We) were a team that was lacking discipline, and he brought that. I think it was a good blend of football talent that needed direction, and a coach that could get it out of them. He got the most out of us, for sure.”
Recalled Sanderson of the 2011 and ’12 seasons: “I just remember guys loving football. I remember coming out here and seeing more people (at Logan Field) than I ever thought. I just remember a whole feel of excitement from Nevada. A town that was really just craving to have a successful team for a while, and finally got it, and everyone was supporting us. It was awesome to see that.”
Said Beachler of Sanderson: “As a player he was disciplined. He didn’t make every play, but you knew he was going to be where he was supposed to be, or be on his way there. So his discipline really stands out to me.”
The success resulted in much positive exposure, and an uptick in the program’s numbers.
“Once we had a little bit of success, the school spirit changed,” he said. “There were kids in school you never thought would have played football, (who) started playing football. Because it was a cool thing to do at that time, everyone got excited about it.”
Sanderson drew parallels to the success eight years ago, and believes Beachler will again engineer a major turnaround.
“Yeah, I think so, there’s a lot of excitement from these kids,” Sanderson said. “Numbers are low, which is always going to be a difficult thing. But the kids that are here are working their butts off, and doing a good job of being ready to play. They’re going to have to be tough — mental toughness will be huge for this team. We’re not very deep, so it will be tough for us to get off the field. Our guys are going to have to play the whole game, all the time being physical.”
Sanderson noted that the future appears bright, as Nevada’s middle school program has a robust 80-plus man roster across seventh and eighth-grades.
“It’s looking good,” he said. “Some of our younger classes are really solid, and coming in ready to play. So it looks like the middle school program (will do) a good job of feeding us football players.”
Sanderson discussed his greatest coaching attributes.
“I’m someone who knows what the coach wants,” Sanderson said. “Someone who came from this program and learned a lot of things from (Beachler). Someone who loves Nevada, and brings passion and energy to the team, and will do anything to win.”
Sanderson said he hopes to be a role model for the student-athletes.
“Maybe some of these kids got to see me play, or grew up around me, and I just hope to bring that hometown kind of feel to this team,” said Sanderson, an outside linebackers coach.
Sanderson also gets the unique opportunity of coaching his younger brother, freshman Case, who made his varsity-debut this past Friday. Case is one of just a handful of freshmen who have received varsity reps over Beachler’s 28-year coaching career. With injuries wreaking havoc in the season-opener Case seized the moment as the Tigers’ workhouse back in the second half.
“It’s pretty awesome, and is a big thing I was really excited about coming back to do,” Cole said of coaching Case. “Going through college, and not really getting to be around a whole lot, I haven’t been able to see him play (much).”
Sanderson received his Bachelor of Science in education this past spring from the University of Central Oklahoma, and in addition to his (H.S) math teaching duties, was also added to the Tigers’ baseball staff for the 2020 campaign.