In 2018, Twin Springs struggled through a 1-9 season — and the future of the program was in serious jeopardy. After all, when coach Keith Warner took the field for the first practice last year, only nine players had shown up.
Going into this season, that number has nearly tripled.
“They’ve really bought in to what we’re trying to do,” Warner said. “Last year we had nine kids on the first day and this year we come out on the first day and we’ve got 26. After going 1-9 last year, they could have easily quit and not played any football, but they didn’t. I just admire these kids for sticking with it.”
Warner said his team is looking to improve this year regardless of what the final record shows.
“We want to win and I want to win more than anybody. Anybody who knows me knows I want to win,” he said. “But these kids, we’ve already got a win. We only had one kid quit last year. So I had 20 other kids that stuck it out that could have easily folded it up. That’s a win.
“We got a win against North Greene. That was two wins for us. Kids didn’t miss practice and they were on time to practice. They kept their lockers clean. That’s a win.
“Little things like this is the reason we have 26 kids this year and are way, way ahead of the game at this point this season than we were last season.”
One of those players back is sophomore quarterback Mason Elliott, who was thrown into the fire last year.
“He’s got stronger, he’s grown and he’s not a freshman anymore,” Warner said.
All-Cumberland District running back Corbin Kilgore, a senior, is back to lead the offensive and defensive units. Another senior leader is offensive lineman and linebacker Kaleb Carter.
“Since Day 1 when I got here, he’s been in the weight room every day,” Warner said of Kilgore. “He’s been to Governor’s School for two weeks. That’s the only time he’s ever missed a day in the weight room. Even when the team doesn’t lift, he’s in the weight room.
“We’ve got linemen where we can sub this year. Last year we were playing 19 kids and it’s hard to sub. And of those 19 kids, only five of them had varsity experience. Right now, we’ve got 26 and we only have a couple of freshmen. So we’ve got varsity experience and that’s not an excuse for us this year.”
Another team leader is junior Conner Gilmer, a fullback and linebacker.
Buoyed by experience, Warner said his team is ready to move forward into the season.
“Last year I felt like I held us back a little bit trying to teach fundamentals and basics and really being simple. Trying to teach them the game of football and how to react to playing instead of thinking,” he said. “Now they’re reacting and they’re reading keys.
“When we get all 11 guys doing that, it’s going to show,” Warner added.
The Titans open the season Aug. 30 at Northwood.
Aug. 30 at Northwood
Sept. 6 Holston
Sept. 13 at North Greene
Sept. 20 J.I. Burton
Sept. 27 at Hancock County
Oct. 4 Jenkins, Ky.
Oct. 11 at Castlewood
Oct. 18 Eastside
Nov. 1 at Thomas Walker
Nov. 8 Rye Cove