News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: Christian Collegiate Academy Bulldogs
Who said you need 11 players to play football? Certainly not Christian Collegiate Academy, a steady force in MAIS 8 Man Class 2A District 2.
Stop number six on News 25’s Teams in 25 Days, where a much improved and stronger Bulldogs team meets a happy homecoming.
Center/ Defensive End Tyree Morris said, “We are small but mighty. Very strong team. We’re stronger than we’ve ever been before. We’re looking really confident, too.”
Head Coach Steve Spinks said, “What’s new for us is that we’re definitely gotten stronger. We noticed on film last year we were getting pushed around, so we’re stronger. We’ve got a lot of the same guys back, and we’re ready to go after it.”
Rumor has it, this is the strongest team Christian Collegiate Academy has run onto the field since the 2015 state championship game runners up, perhaps even more rocked up than they were. “It’s a few guys that came out this year. They really weren’t out here last year and our line is bigger than any CCA line that’s been here, sir. And our team is bigger overall. We’re a bunch of young guys, juniors and sophomores and senior. One senior, that’s me.”
Holding it down for the class of 2022 is Houston Mack and that’s it. Coming off a 400-yard rushing season with six touchdowns to go along with 44 tackles, three sacks, a fumble recovery, and an interception on defense. “He’s a stud for us. He’s a bell cow. He runs hard. He gives his all. He’s a good leader. He’s vocal.”
Mack said, “Me being the only senior, it’s kind of a struggle cause if you’ve got more seniors you don’t have to worry about the whole group yourself, so just me being a senior by myself I’m trying to help my team become better. I’m trying to leave the example by when I leave here, so I’ve just been trying to step up and show everybody what I can do.”
On the bright side, the Bulldogs only lose one starter from a team that started 0-5, but bounced back to win three out of its last four games en route to a second-place finish in the district. “It really was just coordination and trusting each other. At first, we didn’t know about each other. We were all new to the team, and after a little bit we started to bond.”
“We started believing, and as we started believing, we started making some things happen. Our players started showing up. It was pretty impressive.”
Perhaps the biggest addition to the 2021 Bulldogs is their new offensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach. Reintroducing Devan Roberts, the quarterback from that 2015 team that went to state. “Well yeah, he had went to a state championship a few years ago, and we’re just trying to get to the same place he’s at. He’s already been there. He knows what you’ve got to get to get there, so I’m just trying to learn from him and learn and get better from him just to learn to get there.”
Coach Roberts said, “Some of these guys watched me play, so it’s special. D.J. – I think he was 8 or 9 years old and now he’s my quarterback, so just trying to pass on that knowledge and pass on what it takes to get to the state championship. It’s more than just saying you want to get there, it’s a lot of long days of working out and taking care of your body.”
Coach Roberts, also the son of the late Coach Joe Roberts, who passed away in April 2020. It’s that legacy of passion carried on through the next generation that feels oh so familiar to the CCA football family. “He studies the game, and he’s a great X’s and O’s guy. He’s always thinking about strategy. He’s always thinking about football, so it’s just in his blood. And it is sort of like watching Coach Joe out there. He wouldn’t like that, but it is.”
“I always thought one day I would end up coaching. I grew up around the game from him, learned everything from him, so it really felt like I needed to come back and finished what he started rebuilding this program. And not only just creating good players, but creating young men.”
After CCA, Coach Roberts went on to play one year in the NAIA at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas before joining the Air Force.
CCA opens the season with three straight road games starting on August 20th at Columbus Christian before kicking things off at home against Wilkinson Christian on September 10th.