Brewer players ready to follow coach's lead
22nd in a series.
By Brooke Milam
DAILY Sports Writer
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
FLORETTE — Brewer High football coach Billy Coleman calls himself retired.
DAILY Photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Brewer High coach Billy Coleman, left, moves his team inside as a rainstorm soaks the practice field Tuesday. The Patriots bring a two-game winning streak into the 2005 season.
Well, that's accurate if getting to the school at 8 a.m. and spending all day there sounds like retirement to you.
Coleman's players also report that he went through summer workouts with them. They called that impressive, especially when you consider that while the players had to make only one of three sessions a day, he worked out at every one.
"He did them with each group, so he did like triple the workouts we did," senior linebacker Eric Hughes said.
Coleman, 49, plays down the comments, but one thing is certain — his players took notice.
That isn't limited to his workout regiment. They've noticed the dedication and confidence Coleman has brought to a program in need of new life.
Coleman inherited a Brewer team last year that had won only once in its previous three seasons and had an active losing streak of 13 games. Coleman's first squad lost its first eight before winning the last two contests of the year.
"When I got here, the psyche was so shattered," Coleman said.
Coleman was 89-54 during 1983-94 at Dora and West Point before retiring from coaching. He served as principal at West Point from 1995 to 2002 before retiring from administration.
He returned to coaching last year and didn't shy away from Brewer's problems. As a result, the Patriots' confidence appears to have grown.
"Our coach doesn't give up on us, so we don't give up," senior running back Joe Burton said.
With a 21-12 win over Curry in the ninth game of the year, Brewer broke what was then the area's longest active losing streak — 24 games.
"You wouldn't believe the excitement," Coleman said.
Now it's time to move forward, Coleman said.
"Now coach talks about 'Taking the next step,' " Hughes said.
"For us that means win some ballgames."
Despite years when the win column was lean, Brewer's varsity still numbers in the mid-50s, and Coleman said sees interest for the future.
"We've got about 20 juniors playing — we're starting to see numbers down the line," Coleman said.
Ten seniors are set to lead the Patriots this year. They said their class has lost a significant number of players since their freshman season, but they've stuck with it for one reason — "It's fun," offensive lineman John Shivers said.
Added Hughes: "We love the game."
Echoed Burton: "Love for the game."
The Patriots have 15 starters back, giving them experience on both sides of the ball.
Shivers said playing to their potential will be important this season, and failing to do so might have been part of the Patriots' downfall in years past.
"There's a lot of talent that people haven't fully used yet," Shivers said. "We need everyone playing to potential."
Coleman said his team is "light years ahead" of where it was a year ago, but he can't say how many wins it will take to be successful.
"We define 'taking the next step' as being competitive," Coleman said.
"The kids here have been great — they've done everything I've asked them to do. They've tried hard. More than anything, I want them to have some success."
Brewer schedule, results
Aug. 26 at Madison County
Sept. 2 vs. Russellville*
Sept. 9 vs. Athens*
Sept. 16 at Curry*
Sept. 23 vs. West Point
Sept. 30 at Walker*
Oct. 7 vs. Cullman*
Oct. 14 vs. Muscle Shoals*
Oct. 21 at Hartselle*
Oct. 28 at Fairview
*-Class 5A, Region 8
vs. Madison Co. L, 21-14
at Russellville L, 50-6
at Athens L, 49-0
at West Point L, 48-14
vs. Walker L, 56-10
at Cullman L, 49-21
at Muscle Shoals L, 61-27
vs. Hartselle L, 42-0
vs.Curry W, 21-12
vs. Fairview W, 42-41
Did you know?
Win streak: Brewer has won two straight games, and if the Patriots can win a third straight by taking their season opener Friday at Madison County, they will post the school's longest win streak since the 2001 team won its last three of the year. Brewer hasn't won four straight since 1995 when the Patriots finished 7-3.
Starting 'em young: Ten seniors bring a wealth of experience to the Patriots' starting lineup. Running back Joe Burton and offensive lineman John Shivers have both started since they were freshmen and most of the others saw playing time as early as their sophomore years.
You've gotta want it to win it: The difference between wins and losses this season may lie in the Patriots desire. They know what it's going to take: "Hard, smash-mouth football," Shivers said.
— Brooke Milam, DAILY Sports Writer