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Russell Roberts joins Smoking for Jesus football staff

Long-time athletics director and coach Russell Roberts is donning the red and black of the Smoking For Jesus Ministry School Eagles.

Roberts, who is most familiar to Highland Lakes sports fans as the football and boys track and field coach at Faith Academy, decided to become part of Eagles head coach Charles Frazier Sr.’s staff in early April.

The two developed a friendship when Charles Frazier Jr. played for Roberts in the seventh- and eighth-grades when Roberts was the Faith Academy Junior High football team coach. Frazier liked the way Roberts coached another student-athlete, Royale Brown, when Brown was playing on the Flames high school team.

“I’ve watched coach Roberts for years,” Frazier said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have that much experience help me out. I look up to him so much. I liked watching him build that (Faith) program when it was coming up.”

Roberts had been attending the Eagles practices in the fall as a fan. But it’s hard to turn off something that’s second nature, which is what happened to him. He began to notice ways the team could be more efficient and get more done during the practices, a skill he learned because the University Interscholastic League allows only so many practice minutes a week.

“My initial thought was to help him organize,” Roberts said. “They’re very consistent about work habits, and they seem to have a great attitude. What they lacked was organizational practices. How do you get 35 to 45 minutes of work in 15 minutes? Every coach spends time and effort in squeezing every minute they can into their practice drills. Coach Frazier knows football. It’s not so much what you do, it’s how you do it. It’s more impactful on how you drill those players.”

Roberts spent four decades coaching 11-man football in Texas public schools. When he and his wife, Tricia, moved to the Highland Lakes, Roberts accepted the head coaching job at Faith Academy where he learned how to coach six-man football, a position he kept until he retired in 2016 and then returned to the sideline to coach the Faith Junior High team. Once he left the junior high team, Roberts decided to become a football official.

“Officiating never fulfilled me,” he said. “I enjoyed it. But I often left the field thinking about a kid who screwed up that I could have helped.”

That desire to help players and love of the sport is why Roberts passed drills and other thoughts to Frazier on practices. Then he began sharing other observations and tidbits he thought could help the Eagles. That led to conversations about joining the staff and what role Roberts might play.

“I gave coach Frazier a couple of ideas on paper,” he said. “That’s when he said, ‘I think I’m going to have you do the offense.'”

That knowledge of the sport is why Frazier is happy Roberts is joining the Eagles staff.

“Compared to coach Roberts, I’m a rookie,” Frazier said. “It’s an honor to have someone of his caliber come and work with us. It was a no-brainer for me. He sees so much in the boys.”

The Eagles have bulked up their 2022 schedule after joining the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations in the spring.

“We’ll be hitting on all cylinders and getting the most out of every kid we can,” Roberts said.

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