ACA turns to Sanford as new head football coach
By Tim Gayle
Alabama Christian Academy wasted no time in announcing offensive coordinator Nate Sanford will take over as the Eagles’ new football coach.
Sanford was formally introduced by athletic director Scott Galloway on Wednesday morning.
“When I met him, I felt really connected because, one, I think we speak the same language,” Galloway said. “Nate Sanford brings out the best in people. Nate Sanford instills confidence in people. I got to see it this year, I got to see him work in the classroom which is very important to me. He’s also a ‘camp’ guy and there’s just something about people who give time to little ones, little kids that really can’t give a whole lot back.”
Sanford is the seventh Alabama Christian Academy head football coach in the last 17 years after school officials asked for the resignation of Bill Moore on June 2. Sanford’s first on-the-field duties will take place on Tuesday at the Eagles’ annual seven-on-seven camp.
“I came here a year ago perfectly content to be the offensive coordinator and teach classes,” Sanford said. “I thought Coach Moore would be around for a long time. Things happened. When it all broke, it was a little bit of a conflict for me because Bill is my good friend. I wish him all the best. He’s going to do a good job there (at Hooper Academy). He’s got a good offensive mind and some experience at a couple of places in Houston with some athletic directorship.”
Moore had previously served as Sanford’s coordinator a dozen years ago at Northland Christian in Houston before eventually getting the job at Alabama Christian in 2013 as the successor to Leslie Mote. In a strange twist, Moore hired Sanford as his coordinator at Alabama Christian last spring, only to lose his job in early June and get replaced by his former boss.
“I did not know who Nate Sanford was about April of last year, but I got to know him,” Galloway said. “I did not know we had some connections. I described to Kevin Starks, who is now the athletic director at Harding Academy in Memphis, our football situation. I said I need somebody to turn the football program around. He said Nate Sanford can do that.”
Moore probably believed he had turned around the program in 2016, earning a new contract after leading the Eagles to the state playoffs for the first time since 2009. Months later, he was abruptly dismissed, leaving Alabama Christian officials with few options other than promoting a current member of the coaching staff.
Sanford spent most of his time in Texas and developed a reputation for turning around programs. In 2001, he started the football program at Northland Christian School and went 55-15 over the next six seasons. He also coached a semi-pro team in 2010, the Arkansas Bengals, and was head coach in 2011-14 at The Woodlands Christian School, compiling 8-5, 5-5, 7-5 and 12-1 records at the school.
He inherits what is potentially the best Alabama Christian Academy team in more than a decade, including an offense that returns 10 of 11 starters.
“The region, in general, is going to be tougher,” Sanford said. “But we have 16 starters coming back. You can’t ask for much more than that. We’re extremely excited about that. That gives us some continuity in the summer and heading into the season with some confidence.”
Sanford’s previous duties including coaching the boys’ soccer team and serving as offensive coordinator on the football staff, two positions he will need to fill before practice starts in August.
“We’ve got a little bit of time to think about it, not a whole lot because it’s June,” Sanford said. “But as I’ve said before, we have a fantastic staff in place. So good, in fact, that I’m not even sure how much they need me. Our offensive systems are in place, our defensive systems are in place. We’re going to have a renewed focus on special teams. I think that can help us improve our season.”