Success follows Sanders boys on the football field - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Success follows Sanders boys on the football field

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ANNA -- The Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats are one win away from a trip to the 3A state championship game. A-J will visit Pleasant Plains Saturday afternoon in the semifinals, and one Wildcat will not only be playing for a shot to go to state, but also a little familial bragging rights.

It was 2003 when Wildcats head coach Brett Detering first took a team to the state semifinals with quarterback Chris Sanders running the offense. A-J's next trip to the semis came in 2006, David Sanders played tight end and linebacker for the Wildcats.

And now fast forward 11 years, as the Wildcats prepare for the third semifinal appearance under Detering, it's Nick Sanders shutting it down on the A-J defense.

"I think we're all just really hard-working individuals who put all of our heart on the field, no matter how big we are. No matter how strong we are, it doesn't really matter.  It's just how much heart you have," said Wildcat middle linebacker Nick Sanders.

In the Sanders family, football truly is life.

"It means everything to our family. It brings us closer together as a family in general," said Sanders.

Along with the three Sanders boys playing football, their father, known as Coach Duff, began the area youth football league back in the 1990's, making the name Sanders synonymous with football in the Anna-Jonesboro area.

"So a lot of guys have been around either a Sanders boy as they're playing, or Coach Sanders and his wife. So kind of a neat story that all three of these teams have had a Sanders kid on the team," said Detering.

With Nick being the final Sanders boy to play under his wing, Coach Detering is banking on the 'Sanders charm' to just be coincidental.

"Well, I hope, well you k ow this is the last one, so I hope that doesn't mean this is the last chance that we get. Because you know, I'm not sure I can wait around for another Sanders boy to come around," said Detering.

With the first two Sanders boys' teams falling in the semis, Nick hopes to return home from Saturday's game with a little bit of bragging rights.

"Oh they will never hear the end of it. But they will be very proud of me, I'm sure," said Sanders.

A win at Pleasant Plains on Saturday would mean the family Thanksgiving plans will change, but nobody would complain about being in DeKalb Friday for the state championship game.

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