Daily photo by Brennen Smith|
Brewer assistant coach Daniel Gullion watches over Michael Barnett, white jersey, and Zach Graham participating in a drill.
HIGH SCHOOL COUNTDOWN
Brewing higher goals
After another 2-8 record, Brewer
aims to 'push down the wall'
Eleventh in a series
By Mark Edwards
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2461
FLORETTE — Brewer High football coach Billy Coleman likes to give his team a motto before each season, and this year he thought he came up with a pretty good one: "Whatever it takes."
However, as off-season workouts progressed, Coleman, his assistant coaches and his players gradually began repeating another phrase: "Push down the wall."
Whenever a player reached what he thought was his limit, his teammates and coaches would try to coax him to find something more. Each player tried not only to reach the wall but push it down.
Coleman realized that the Brewer program was trying to do the same — the program has shown improvement since he arrived three seasons ago, but the Patriots haven't won a whole lot more games.
After one win in three seasons previously, Coleman's Patriots have won six games with three straight 2-8 seasons.
He wants something more. And his coaches want something more. And his players want something more.
"It seems like many times in the past, we've gotten to the wall, but we haven't pushed it down," said Coleman, who is in his 15th season as a head coach, which includes eight seasons at West Point and three at Dora.
So during summer workouts, the motto changed to "Push down the wall," and those four words sum up Brewer's mission for the season.
"The playoffs," said senior Miles Cloer, a fullback. "I want us to make the playoffs. I want us to be a physical team, too. I'm not saying that we should play without class — I just want us to be mean."
It could take that and more for Brewer to improve its record significantly.
The Patriots lost 21 seniors from a year ago, although Coleman said there is a good base of players returning, including a 13-member senior class.
Also, Brewer has the misfortune of playing in Class 5A, Region 8. It produced last season's state champion (Athens), a semifinalist (J.O. Johnson) and two quarterfinalists (Hartselle and Russellville).
In the preseason rankings, J.O. Johnson is second, while Russellville is fourth and Athens is eighth. Hartselle is third among other teams receiving votes, and another region member, Decatur, is a traditional power even though it's coming off a 4-6 season.
Brewer will have to play all five teams this season.
"Those are five of the best teams in the state, and they're all in our region," Coleman said.
However, there is reason for optimism.
The Brewer offense showed plenty of life a year ago by scoring at least 20 points in five games, and the Patriots return several key contributers.
At quarterback, Brewer returns junior Tony Dickerson, a key reserve who tossed a touchdown pass in the Patriots' 9-6 win over West Point.
Coleman said sophomore Tyler Parker will compete with Dickerson for playing time.
At tailback, junior Chris Dickerson and Dylan Whisenant will compete for playing time, but Coleman said the field isn't limited to those two.
"We have five or six tailbacks, who there isn't a ton of difference between," Coleman said. "I'm not sure anybody is going to get the bulk of the carries."
Cloer will play fullback, and the offensive line has plenty of experience back. Seniors John Tallent, Chris Kern and Nathaniel Thomas return along with juniors P.J. Casey, Keith Partain and Rusty Bowling.
"The offensive line has worked so hard," Coleman said. "They're very much aware of working as a unit."
At receiver, Brewer lost its main pass receivers, but Coleman said that names such as Chase Oden, Vinny Muggeo and Matt Pinkerton have stepped forward, among others.
On top of the talent on offense, Brewer is coming off a productive off-season. Like other schools, Brewer had voluntary summer workouts, but Coleman set his at 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Coleman said many of the players attended the 5:30 a.m. workout.
"We worked for an hour and 15 minutes," he said. "It was a little more demanding than some.
"We worked a lot on speed and quickness."
Tallent said the workouts helped the team unity.
We worked every day, conditioning and running a lot," he said. "All the players are committed to play."
Coleman said he sees a lot of good from his team. He said the roster is full of young players but they're hungry and willing to improve.
On a recent Saturday, Coleman prepared to head out the locker room door before a Brewer practice in 100-degree weather.
He smiled and gave this one nugget about his players and what he thinks of them: "It takes a special kid to practice in this heat."
BrewerHigh at a glance
Last year: 2-8. Did not make the state playoffs.
Head coach: Billy Coleman (6-24 in three seasons at Brewer; 95-78 in 15 seasons as a head coach, including 53-44 at West Point and 26-10 at Dora).
Noteworthy: Coleman says that senior center John Tallent is so good at deep snapping for punts and kicks, “he’s a college deep snapper.” ... Coleman said he sees signs of improvement even if the results haven’t changed much for the Patriots:“The scores are similar, but it’s happening in the fourth quarter instead of the first quarter.” ... Brewer’s last winning record was a 7-4 mark in 1999 when it fell in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs to Decatur. Both teams now are in 5A,Region 8.
- Mark Edwards
Brewer High schedule, results
9-7 at Russellville (R)
9-14 Muscle Shoals (R)
9-21 at West Point (R)
10-5 at Hartselle (R)
10-12 J.O. Johnson (R)
10-19 at Athens (R)
10-26 Decatur (R)
11-2 at Arab
(R)-Class 5A, Region 8
at Priceville L, 27-20
vs. Russellville L, 48-0
at Muscle Shoals L, 49-28
vs. West Point W, 9-6
at Hayden W, 28-14
vs. Hartselle L, 38-15
at J.O. Johnson L, 46-24
vs. Athens L, 48-12
at Decatur L, 56-33
vs. Arab L, 17-7
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