Perspective: Fans stick behind Roswell, despite unprecedented 0-9 record

Justin Sanderson’s inbox has been taking inspirational quotes and Bible verses from fans and friends for the past two months. Roswell’s first-year head coach says he’s read them all.

The good news is that fans are solidly behind him. The bad news is that traditional powerhouse Roswell is 0-9 for the first time in a proud football history that dates to 1950.

‘’If you were walking the hallways today or came to practice this week, you’d never know that we’re winless,’’ said Sanderson, a Roswell assistant from 2003 until getting the promotion this year. “The support is so strong and so ingrained in everybody. We’ve physically been outmatched in a couple of games for the first time in a while talent-wise, but the kids keep fighting. There’s no division, no dissention.’’

On a rainy Friday night, Roswell was overmatched again, losing to playoff-bound West Forsyth 35-14. Other times, it’s been a case of snake bite.

The Hornets have led in the fourth quarter of four losses, twice giving up the winning points in the final minute. They’re playing without five injured starters. They graduated 10 college signees off the 2010 region championship team.

But fan support remains near full-strength. Per tradition, the seniors wear camouflage to home games, and there were dozens of them Friday.

At the moment of kickoff, the students have a tradition called the flour toss. Borrowing from NBA star LeBron James, students throw handfuls of flour in the air, creating a white cloud of excitement that signals the start of another festive Friday night.

On this night, the Roswell Rowdies called it off because of the threat of rain.

“It was pouring,” said senior Hannah Dalby. ”When it’s wet, it turns to paste’’

Dalby was with a group of seniors wearing the camos. She noted that Bass Pro Shop loves Roswell seniors. Senior Cooper Surrett said it’s not just about looking cool.

‘’The team, we’re friends will all the players,’’ Surrett said. “We come out no matter what, not just to win. Teachers tell us they’ve worked at other schools, but this is the most school spirit they’ve ever seen.’’

Claire Bartlett, the mother of Roswell senior safety Joe Bartlett, said Roswell is just a city that loves its football and its school.

“Roswell is a very community-oriented city,’’ Bartlett said. “We all support each other. You don’t abandon ship in down times. You pull together even closer. This is one of those times when we’re banding together.’’

Another Roswell tradition is to promote its coaches from within and stick with him. Sanderson is Roswell’s 10th head coach. He’s been a part of two region champions and a state champion at Roswell.

Inspirational to the end, Sanderson is confident the downturn is temporary. After all, this is Roswell.

‘’If it can happen to us, it can happen to anybody,’’ Sanderson said. “My job is to keep my head up and keep them together. As much as it stinks, it is what it is, and everybody understands this is a teachable moment for us. We talk a lot about character. You cannot say effort is an issue. These kids have fought for 48 minutes every Friday night and left it all on the field.’’

30 comments Add your comment


October 28th, 2011
11:45 pm

Wow. 0-9? Really?


October 28th, 2011
11:59 pm

So they are in the Andrew Luck derby along with Colts and Dolphins? Who wins the tiebreaker?


October 29th, 2011
12:11 am

Roswell grad class of 1991 and true to the school 4 life!


October 29th, 2011
12:23 am

LOL!!! Roswell for Life?!?!?! A School that stands with the team, and the school???? YEAH RIGHT! They do that about as much as an ant goes face to face with an Ant Eater and wins. I went to Roswell from 1998-2002*.. The *-Denotes I left my senior year for Wheeler High School- I played on the football team for one year. That was a good learning experience. About how bullys love to find the weakest player on the team. About how the teachers will tell you youre going to fail. Or that they’ve given up on you. It was the most Embarassing time in my life. Going to Roswell was like going to a Maximum Security Prision that I thankfully got out of. Went to Wheeler High School, graduated with Honors. The students and teachers didn’t care about Class status with money. They embarced me with open arms. Oh and the school loves their football team and embraces them as one of their own. LOL 0-9!!! A far fall from the State Champs. I hope it continues to happen to them. Karma

Hayseed Dixie

October 29th, 2011
1:29 am

Sorry you had a bad experience, Brandon.

I played football at Roswell and I can say it was no different than any other experience I’ve ever heard of.

Football in the south is tough- it makes grown men who should know better act real darn silly, but you learn that in 85 pound. There’s nothing intrinsic to Roswell that makes it tougher than any other school.


October 29th, 2011
1:48 am

Great article…please do another one the worst teams in the state…There is one outside of augusta that need some light shined on it…it has too much talent to be 0-10.

A Hornet till the Day I Die!!

October 29th, 2011
5:58 am

A Hornet is taught to be a winner on the inside first regardless of the score board!! Coach Pete Poulos taught me that along time ago on a football field far far away…


October 29th, 2011
6:15 am

0-9. Is that all? Come on now, when I was in high school, our football team went 0-36. The only game we ever won was because of a bad call by the referee. Go JCCHS Panthers!


October 29th, 2011
7:39 am

I could kinda tell by the park (RAP) that the program was going to take a slide. The Junior program is still doing well, so I don’t imagine seeing this happening again. I coached kids on both teams, starting at Roswell, ending up here at West. Nice to avenge a loss from last season. Good luck in the playoffs Wolverines.


October 29th, 2011
8:07 am

I hope they go 0 and ten years


October 29th, 2011
9:01 am

WOW. I went to RHS from 1980 – 1985. I do hope that the hornets can turn it around, if not for this season but in te future.


October 29th, 2011
9:19 am

Not to worry Roswell. The first win of the season is just 7 days away. Next Friday is your Rose Bowl vs the Milton Eagles. Just ask Josh Dobbs from Alpharetta how to go deep on the weak Milton secondary. Air it out and you will walk off that field a winner!

Go Raiders

October 29th, 2011
9:45 am

Gee whiz, Brandon. You sound like you need to contact a therapist. SOON!

Looking to next year

October 29th, 2011
10:06 am

Given the number of Roswell’s starting seniors that are injured and the fact that 1/2 the team should be playing on the JV (which by the way is undefeated this year), the next 2 – 3 yrs will be great! Keep your heads high, Roswell, and just remember that unlike many Atlanta teams, you so not cheat and recruit students from other states to play for you.

A Hornet till the Day I Die!!

October 29th, 2011
10:25 am

did Milton go 0-48 and will always be know as the most defeats in a row for a high school football program. Milton sucks!


October 29th, 2011
11:05 am


You sound like a pathetic loser that has probably been hanging out with all the bottom of the barrel scum at the Occupy Atlanta. Don’t be made at the world because you were not good enough to play football. Look in the mirror! Good luck with that interview at the McDonald’s drive thru once you get out of jail.


October 29th, 2011
11:44 am

LOL! Hey Brandon….the one year you played football at Wheeler their record was 0-10 (, including 4 shutouts. You must be very proud of your contributions. Is your picture still in their trophy case? BTW, Roswell was 7-3 in 2002….do you think there was a reason you could play at Wheeler and not at Roswell? Hint: you’re a LOSER!


October 29th, 2011
11:48 am

Yo Brandon. Sorry you have such hatred for Roswell. I guess you wishing them to have bad karma years forever is kinda like wishing you to be in a bad accident and being in a wheelchair for the rest of your life? Lighten up dude.

Ya moms

October 29th, 2011
3:45 pm

Brandon crying like a baby


October 30th, 2011
7:01 pm

@HornetFan brandon life must suck cuz he was in h.s back n 2002 thats when I was n 5th grade and this dude is still talking about it well @brandon where are you know in life lmao

north fulton parent

October 30th, 2011
9:48 pm

Roswell best of luck this week we are very cheering for you to beat Milton. I hate to see such a geat program suffer but we all have our year. At least you dont encourage fake hardships and transfers to load your team. Your hard work will pay off = prove it this Friday!!!

long time roswell

October 31st, 2011
10:11 am

The players are not the problem but the coaching are the problem no wisdom all are new coaches who have not been in this position before also there is a 11 men on the field who play at a time and when you try to get the ball to just two players all year it doesn’t take a expert to figure that out. especially when it is the coaches son. Roswell needed to hire outside especially since there was no one inside the program. Just because you have nice guys inside the program doesnt mean they are the right person for the job.

not happy

October 31st, 2011
10:40 am

for looking to next year you got to be crazy they are playing the junior and soph. this year and look at what it has got us. Put Casey in Bring back Leo should of keep Tim! Those same players who are getting the playing time now will be back next year. What do you think the other teams are going to get worse.

Adam Zander

October 31st, 2011
3:26 pm

It was a tough school, they never let me wear my short jean shorts in class. I guess it was a good thing i flunked out in 9th grade from RHS.

Keith Dorio

October 31st, 2011
3:28 pm

Maybe if they would have let me play QB with my 100mph fastball arm. I would have torn up the field. Seems like they’re still keepin the great players off the field. It’s all politics!

the real truth

October 31st, 2011
4:04 pm

yes the coaches need to own up to loosing some of those regional games instead of making the excuse about the lack of talent in the upper class. We had the talent to win some of those regional games we just got out coached. It takes talent and good coaching and that is something Roswell lacks.


October 31st, 2011
9:50 pm


Open Your Eyes

November 3rd, 2011
9:42 am

Has anybody watched a Roswell game this year? They are the smallest and least athletic team that I have watched all year. They don’t have a QB that gives them a chance and their OL is the worst that I have seen in all of AAAAA or AAAA. Did Sanderson forget how to coach OL or has the well run dry for a year? Sanderson is a good coach and a GREAT man who will have the program back where it belongs in a few years. Don’t do something stupid and fire the man after one season. He will learn and grow from this experience and surround himself with more competent coaches to help get the most out of these student athletes. Keep your head up RHS you are a GREAT program and one that other programs strive to become.

Roswell Mom

November 4th, 2011
5:14 pm

Yep, the Offense stinks almost as bad as the Defense. There are some good players watching on the sidelines, wonder if they will stick around to see what happens. The problem is the OL practices against a pathetic DL then on Friday night they play kids that aren’t awful. Politics picks the starters. You have to buy in to the program to get in the game and the coaches just throw it all against the wall to see if anything will stick.


November 4th, 2011
8:20 pm

I played for Roswell 04-08 we lost 4 games total in all 4 years. Sanderson starte off as my 9th grade coach. He’s a great guy and an even greater coach. Don’t doubt him. He’s earned the head coaching job. I watched a game. Plain and simple they have an extremely undersized and because of the early losses, an unmotivated O-line and D-line. That is the center of any team and is necessary for any team to sustain a winning record. It’s unfortunate being that it’s his first year, but I have faith in Sanderson and the program. They’ll go back to the drawing board and be back on top soon. We thrive being the underdog an have proven ourselves time and time again.