Blake Anderson’s first season with Lanier Christian Academy went about as well as Anderson could have expected. In only the school’s third season of having a football program, Anderson led the Lightning to a 5-5 record and the team’s first ever appearance in the GICAA playoffs.
Now all the team has to do is repeat it.
Thankfully for Anderson, he now has the largest group of seniors the program has ever had, and with the blueprint of winning already laid, Anderson expects another jump in success in Year 2 of his tenure with the team.
“We are way beyond where we were at this point last year, for sure,” Anderson said. “So that’s a blessing for sure. And these guys have made it happen.”
5 things to watch
Believing in coach Anderson
Lanier Christian is still a young program, but at least its players believe the school has found the right coach to put the team on the map. Anderson arrived before Lanier Christian Academy’s third season as a team, and the impacts were immediate, as the Lightning won as many games in Year 3 as they did in Years 1 and 2 combined.
But beyond wins and losses, the Lanier Christian Academy players respect Anderson as a coach, making the implementation of his systems easier and smoother for a Lightning squad that is seemingly on the rise.
“I’ve never had a coach before who’s not only a coach but also a mentor and a friend whenever I need it,” senior running back Spencer Sanderson said. “It’s just really nice to have a coach you can be close with.”
‘Double thunder’ backfield
In an environment of continued emphasis on passing in football, Anderson and Lanier Christian Academy are taking the game back to its roots.
The Lightning’s combo of Sanderson and fellow senior Charlie Vera provides a one-two punch that Anderson hopes will carry the Lanier Christian Academy offense to consecutive winning seasons.
“Some people like having a thunder-and-lightning backfield,” Anderson said. “We’ve just got double thunder is what we’ve got. And that’s good. They’re physical, and having those two guys back there is helpful.”
Rise of the linemen
When Anderson arrived at his team’s first practice of the summer, he was stunned to look around and see how many kids had showed up with the hopes of playing offensive or defensive line.
“As a football coach in the past, I’ve always seemed to have more skill position players than we’ve had linemen and things like that, but this year it’s kind of neat to look out there and we’ve got a lot of linemen,” he said.
It was a positive sign for the coach who, like most high school football coaches, has a soft spot for the guys doing the dirty work in the trenches. Anderson hopes the numbers will contribute to solid line play come the start of the regular season.
“We’ve got a lot of big boys,” Anderson said. “And that’s what we’re trying to build our team from. We want to start up front. It all starts up front. We want to build our team on the offensive and defensive lines, and I believe that we’ve got the right ingredients to
Focus on discipline
As a small, private Christian school, Lanier Christian Academy does not have the numbers or the size of most football powerhouses. But Anderson said he’s keeping his focus on what he’s able to control for the time being, putting an emphasis on disciplined football rather than worrying over his players’
According to Anderson, disciplined football beats uncontrolled athletes in nearly every scenario.
“We feel like we might not be the fastest team on the field, not necessarily the strongest,” he said. “But we can be the most physical and the most disciplined, and that’s our goal.”
The Lightning opened the season with a 21-18 loss to Notre Dame Prep on Friday at Gainesville Middle.
“I think that having that early schedule will help us a lot just getting right over it and getting it going,” Anderson said.
At least one other member of his squad is also happy about the earlier start.
“I can’t wait to hit people,” running back Charlie Vera said.
Friday LAFAYETTE CHRISTIAN
Sept. 6 HOLY SPIRIT PREP
Sept. 13 at Fullington Academy
Sept. 20 KING’S ACADEMY
Sept. 27 at Central Christian
Oct. 4 CHEROKEE CHRISTIAN
Oct. 11 at John Hancock
Oct. 18 at North Georgia
Oct. 25 at Community Christian School
HOME Games played at Gainesville Middle School
50. Micah Adams OL/DL
75. Bennett Backman OL/DL
52. Timothy Brent OL/DL
12. Wyatt Cash QB/DB
22. Josh Hart TE/LB
42. Ethan Jarrard OL/LB
60. Dawson Jones OL/DL
56. Kai Jorgensen OL/DL
31. Spencer Lane RB/LB
19. Johnny Louth TE/LB
25. Luke McCoy WR/LB
11. Ray Montgomery WR/DB
18. Landon Ogle WR/DB
15. Andrew Perry QB/DB
13. Dylan Pittman WR/DB
44. Spencer Sanderson RB/DL
35. Gray Stephenson RB/LB
14. Charlie Vera RB/LB
24. Isaiah Williams RB/LB