published Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Tennessee Train women's football team off to winning start

Hannah McCahill, left, works against Starlisa Horton in a 2013 Tennessee Train women's football practice. Horton, a nose tackle, is the president of the Train, who won their season opener Saturday and host the Atlanta Phoenix this Saturday night at Hixson High School.
Hannah McCahill, left, works against Starlisa Horton in a 2013 Tennessee Train women's football practice. Horton, a nose tackle, is the president of the Train, who won their season opener Saturday and host the Atlanta Phoenix this Saturday night at Hixson High School.
Photo by John Rawlston.

The Tennessee Train women's football team needed only one game in 2014 to match the victory total of its inaugural 2013 season.

The Chattanooga-based Train went 1-2 against the Savannah (Ga.) Sabers and 1-7 overall last year, which began with a 67-12 pounding from the Jacksonville (Fla.) Dixie Blues. The first-year team lost 28-20 in its home opener against Savannah, which rebounded from a 34-16 loss to the Train on May 11 and won 40-32 in the teams' third meeting.

The Train opened their second season Saturday night with a 22-20 win at Savannah. They will host the Atlanta Phoenix this Saturday at Hixson High School at 7 p.m. The Phoenix derailed the Train 42-0 and 48-0 a year ago.

"It was awesome, absolutely awesome," team president and nose tackle Starlisa Horton said Monday about Saturday's win.

She forced the fumble that became the third touchdown when she and teammates Trista Smith and Brandi Oliver jumped on the ball. Quarterback Angie Causby's conversion run stood up as the deciding points when the Sabers scored again.

The Train's earlier touchdowns came on a run by Shereese Russell and a rare touchdown pass -- from Genise Fletcher to Kacee Davis. Denisha Montgomery had a two-point run after the second score.

Some of those names have been around awhile, with the Chattanooga Locomotion before the Train was formed after the Locomotion didn't have a 2012 season when the coach for almost all of their history, Steve Lewis, took the year off to concentrate on finishing his graduate degree.

The Locomotion returned to action last year, but Lewis became the coach of the Train at the request of former Locomotion players he counted among his "best friends." And he, like Horton, was impressed by how the Train progressed in their first season and into the second.

"We returned a lot of players, but a lot of them were rookies last year. Most of those never played football before," he said Monday. "We've added some good rookies this year, so now we don't have girls playing almost every snap. We had 19 in our offensive rotation Saturday night; last year we had only 13 or 14."

Several new players were part of that added depth; one of them, Fletcher, started at tight end and played some at quarterback.

"We have very good rookies this year, and the veterans really stepped up too," Horton said.

Train tickets cost $10 for general admission and $5 for seniors and students showing their IDs, with anyone under 12 admitted free. Season tickets for the Phoenix game, the Cincinnati Sizzle on April 19, the Dixie Blues on May 3 and the Sabers on May 17 cost $30. See www.tntrain.com for details.

The Train belong to the Southeast Region Southeast Division of the Women's Football Alliance, which has 42 teams in two conferences, four regions and 12 divisions spanning the nation.

• The Train are conducting a fundraiser for the Room at the Inn family shelter in the form of a drawing for a University of Tennessee shadow box featuring former coach Phillip Fulmer. Tickets for the May 17 drawing will be sold at all the home games and individually by the players for $5 each, or six for $25.

• The Locomotion start their Independent Women's Football League season Saturday by hosting the Huntsville Tigers at Red Bank High.

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