Friday night lights don’t faze freshman Sanders

Freshman Reid Sanders has stepped into a few roles for the Panthers this season, most noticeably in the fullback position.   (Alex Rubio Photo)

Freshman Reid Sanders has stepped into a few roles for the Panthers this season, most noticeably in the fullback position. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By Lauren Jette

The stadium lights on Friday nights can be blinding for some football players, especially younger ones.

Those lights make freshman utility player Reid Sanders nervous, but they haven’t prevented him from making an impact on the field for District 14-4A champion Liberty Hill.

In four appearances, Sanders has accumulated 195 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries in the fullback position for the Panthers.

“I get so nervous, it’s insane,” Sanders said.

“Coach Vance tells us you’re supposed to have butterflies, you’re supposed to be nervous, it means you’re tapped in. You just go out there and do it. You practice everything four days of the week and the game is supposed to be fun, so just go out there and have some fun.”

Sanders is finally able to have some fun filling in at the fullback position, after being thrown in to two other positions earlier this season.

“I started out at free safety and that was completely new,” Sanders said.

“My mind was always jumbled, I went home and I was like, what the heck? What’s going on? Then I got moved to halfback and I’ve never played halfback before and that was just another mind jungle and then I got moved to fullback and I’ve played fullback before, but the varsity runs so many more plays than eighth grade did. It’s just a new thing every day, so I’m never really bored.”

Stepping straight into a varsity role after competing at the junior high level has had its challenges, but Sanders takes everything in stride.

“Everybody’s faster, everybody’s stronger, everybody’s bigger, everybody’s smarter,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s just another football game really.”

Making a bond with teammates he’s never played with before was the first obstacle Sanders faced.

“My brother was a senior last year, so I knew all the guys up here, but we weren’t really friends, I wouldn’t ever hang out with them, so I didn’t really have a bond at the beginning with them,” Sanders explained.

“So I came here and it was just like making new friends, like the first day of school kind of thing.

“It’s really just a new challenge everyday. I come out here and they call me ‘Fish’ all the time,” Sanders added. “It’s just a mental game really, just playing the sport. I don’t really look at it like I’m the only freshman, my teammates are my teammates.”

Although the season isn’t over yet, Sanders knows this experience will help him for future seasons.

“It’s been great. I’ve matured a lot, I think, and now, for the coming seasons, I can be the leader, telling everybody, hey, it’s going to be alright. Coaches might be yelling at you, but the game is going to go on. I think it’s just making me stronger and building me up,” Sanders said.

Even though he isn’t at the top of the fullback lineup, Sanders still hopes to contribute to the team throughout the playoff run, wherever he can.

“I’m going to be going in, maybe in the third or fourth quarter, but I’m on punt team, so hopefully I’m going to get to go out there and lay the wood on somebody when we get to punt,” he said with a laugh.