MCDONOUGH — For most of us, eight plus three equals 11.
But for coach Adam Collins and his 2012 Community Christian football team it has meant changes. It’s meant adjustments.
It has meant coming out of a comfort zone — and a championship zone.
The Knights, 2011 champions of the Independent Christian Schools of Georgia-Alabama’s (ICSGA) eight-man football division were reclassified this season into 11-man football. And Collins will admit that the transition has not been seamlessly smooth.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble this year,” said Collins, in his third year as coach of Community Christian. “As small as we are, the biggest thing has been just having to put another three guys out there every play. It makes it kind of difficult.”
Anyone who has played or watched 11-man football all their lives, might be tempted to underestimate the difficulty of having to get used to three extra players on the field.
And for these players, what might be a silly question to others is a need-to-know matter for the 11-man squad.
“I have receivers who have played in passing leagues this summer coming over to me saying good things like, ‘Why are there so many people in the middle of the field?’”
And because of the difficulties in making the transition, along with a pretty heavy influence of the injury bug, The 3-4-1 Knights are sitting in a much different position as they approach Friday’s playoff game against Unity Christian than they were last year during their championship run.
“One of the honest things I think is different especially early on is I think we thought too much of ourselves,” Collins said. “We would lack the hunger, and I don’t understand why.”
Last year, Collins said that quick starts and strong finishes were Community Christian’s modus operandi. But the loss of several key seniors to injuries, including having to go several games without its top two quarterbacks have caused for some anxious moments for Collins in his third year at the helm.
Difficulties aside, the Knights are getting healthy again with the return of senior quarterback Zarren Riley and senior standouts David Nuckolls (running back/defensive back) and Hunter Lovell (defensive end/tight end).
After going 0-3-1 in their last four games before their Sept. 28 bye week, Community Christian won two straight in convincing fashion, outscoring Griffin Christian and Creekside Christian by a combined score of 90-22.
And with that, Collins believes his Knights have reason to feel rejuvenated as they travel to Rome this week for the first round of their title defense.
“I see new enthusiasm out there at practice,” Collins said. “It’s a chance for us to show what we’re supposed to be.”
And don’t think Collins is one of those coaches who tries to shy his players away from revenge talk. In addition to playing Unity, who defeated the Knights 20-13 on Sept. 21, the Knights — if they win Friday — will likely face another team that they’ve previous lost to.
And if they win that one, then another, and possibly another.
“That revenge factor; it’s all we talk about,” Collins said. They’ve bought into the fact that (the playoffs) is a new season. Doesn’t matter what your record is. We like to see it as a reckoning.
“But there’s a lot of football that needs to be played between now and then. So we’ll just worry about Unity for right now. It’s put up or shut up time. Win or go home.”