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2016 Football Preview with Coach Jeff Brothers
After winning a state championship for the first time in school history, Coach Jeff Brothers sat down with us to talk about what we can expect in the 2016 season ahead.
What have you been doing since last year’s state championship to prepare for the new season?
The preparations for this season started just days after the last one ended in December. Off-season weight training and speed/agility work began before Christmas of 2015. Our guys have learned to love the weight room, and that's a great compliment to Coach Crosby. The coaches spent the off-season visiting with staffs at several colleges including Georgia, Vanderbilt, Houston, Western Kentucky and others. Spring practice in May gave us a look at players in roles that we needed to replace from last year's senior class. Summer 7-on-7 scrimmages with Ensworth, CPA, BGA, Rossview and Grace Christian allowed us to work on defensive coverage and quarterback/receiver timing.
How is this year’s team different from last year’s?
This year's team has plenty of talent to make another deep run in the playoffs. We need to develop depth at key positions, and we lack the experience of last year's group. Most of those seniors had started three or four years. They were more battle tested for sure. This group will have to learn and improve quickly as the season moves ahead. While many on this year's team played quite a bit last season, the game was in hand by the time they saw the field. We believe in the talent of this group, but the poise and urgency to perform under pressure will have to come in time.
Who is standing out so far as someone to watch on your team?
Jesse Watson has continued to work hard and become a playmaker in all three phases (offense, defense and special teams). Lelan Wilhoite and Xavier Myers have shown the ability to run the ball with great speed, vision and power. Daniel Watson and Adam Young have stepped in at Fullback. Brant Lawless and Andrew Sullivan have moved to the Tight End position and give us some depth there along with Will Irwin. Bryce Pemberton has some good arm talent and will continue to develop his timing and understanding of our schemes at QB. That said, any coach will tell you that the stars are in the trenches. Jack Elliott, Joseph Dyer, Noah Schurman, Maverick Marlin, Tanner Goodman, Warren Hanson and Hayden Jarrell will be the key to our offensive line. Along with Brant in the defensive line, those guys will rotate to allow for some depth. Slater Howard is a guy with college offers too. He plays well and can also be a game changer in every phase. As the season progresses, I expect many others to rise up and get everyone's attention.
Describe some of the things you do to help these players grow as leaders and men.
We always want to speak into the lives of these boys as often as we can. We want to be intentional and authentic in how we work and play. Every year I pick a book to use as the backdrop for what the boys call "story time." Each Thursday practice ends with story time in the shadow of the scoreboard. This year's book is Legacy, by James Kerr. It was recommended to me by one of my former players, Golden Tate. He thought the boys would appreciate it, and I think he's right. My wife and I also host a senior dinner at our house each week to enjoy fellowship and encourage the senior players. Most everything you get in football is an opportunity to teach, to learn, and to grow. With that in mind, everything is geared towards helping these boys all become better players, students and men.
What are your goals personally, as a staff, and as a team for the 2016 football season?
Our goal every season is to win the championship. However, that's not how we'll measure this team or this season. John Wooden's definition of success is doing everything you can to become the best you are capable of being. Sometimes that means a championship, sometimes not. In the end, we'll measure ourselves by that. Personally, I want to hit the mark as a man who has a platform to speak into the lives of these young men. We'll coach them up on the field, but the lessons learned and the impact we have is so much broader than that. I understand that over my career I'll never be able to remember 100% of the players that play for me, but 100% of the players will remember me. That is a responsibility that we, as coaches, will take very seriously. We have a talented team, and with the right amount of character and unselfishness, we can accomplish big things.