“Rise Up”: Russell County Warriors find new inspiration
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SEALE, Ala. (WTVM) - “You try to rise up from the ashes, because that’s kind of where we were.”
It’s been 25 years since the Russell County Warriors brought home a region title.
Last year, the team opened the season with a 28-17 win over Harris County before before losing six-straight games.
Third-year head coach Dillon Griggs was looking to rally his team when inspiration came right before the next game.
”God works in crazy ways...,” he said. “Macklemore came out with this new song called ‘Chant’. I heard the song around Week 7, and in the middle of the song, he says “‘Rise Up.’”
The lyrics became part of the Warrior’s personal chant as they went on to win two of their next three games, including a 34-13 victory over Greenville to finish the season.
Defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas and cornerback Trey Gray believe the team can carry on the “Rise Up” mentality.
“We had to fight through, sometimes it came with upsets, sometimes it was ups and downs,” Thomas said. “It was happy times, it was sad times, but we still pushed through at the end of the day.”
“We’re going to win this season,” Gray said. “We got new coaches coming in, new players. I feel like we’ve been working to conquer our goal.”
One goal for the defense is to force turnovers. The Warriors had only one interception and forced one turnover last year. Gray was the one to recover the fumble, and says they’ve been working to add more.
“New DC, Coach Dickson, came in and helped us with our ball drills and I feel like we’re going to make that change.”
Coach Griggs says he’s lucky to have special teams coordinator Hunter Powell on staff. Griggs adds that he saw “a drastic improvement” in the kicking squad, but Coach Powell says the work isn’t over yet.
“We have to improve in every single phase of the kicking game all the way from field goals, which our field goals were not where they needed to be last year, and neither were our kickoffs,” Powell explained.” But, we’ve been working hard on that and that’s mainly the place where we need improvement.”
While the team is focusing on rising up, Coach Griggs says he can’t wait to showcase his rising young players.
“When you go into a season starting 16 sophomores or juniors, at the 6A level, and you’re this excited about it, it tells you the kind of talent we’ve been able to grow and get here and do what we need to do. I just can’t wait.”
Russell County kicks off their season Aug. 25 against Harris County at 7:30 p.m. EST.
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