Autaugaville finished last season 4-7 overall and 4-3 in Class 1A, Region 4 play. The four region wins were enough for a playoff berth. But first-year head coach James Brothers wants more.
“We should at least go 7-3,” Brothers said. “A successful season is not necessarily based on wins and losses. We’ve reached the playoffs the last two years. Anything above that can be done, but it’s going to take a lot of effort.”
Brothers spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach at Marbury High. He primarily dealt with the defense. Now, at Autaugaville, he will head both offense and defense.
“We want to make it fun for the kids,” Brothers said. “We’re going to be very detail-oriented but also very aggressive offensively.”
Autaugaville will run an up-tempo spread offense. Freshman Delronn Maynard will be asked to lead the offense at quarterback. The prospect of a freshman leading the offense does not bother Brothers.
“We’ve done it before,” Brothers said. “If he understands the game and manages the game, he’ll be fine. He’s got a lot of athletic ability and understands what we’re trying to do with the spread.”
Brothers said he will ask his five seniors to lead his group of 30-35 varsity players.
One of those seniors is wide receiver and cornerback Kelson Palmer. Junior outside linebacker Devonta Wells will join Palmer on the defensive side of the ball. Brothers referred to Wells as the defensive leader. Autaugaville will run a 3-5-3 defense.
“I want to stress defensive fundamentals and effort,” Brothers said. “We’re obviously athletic, but the determination and fundamentals will be important.”
Autaugaville’s first opponent is Lanett. From there, it’s a home region game against Akron and then a visit to familiar and recent Region 4 returnee Billingsley.
“It’ll be nice to have them back in the region,” Brothers said. “Our kids know their kids, and it’s turned into a real big rivalry.”
All four of Autaugaville’s wins from last season were within the region. Three of the four teams — John Essex, Sunshine and Holy Spirit — return for this season. Autaugaville defeated those three opponents by a combined score of 119-6.
Rival St. Jude looms at the end of the schedule. The Pirates defeated Autaugaville 41-7 last season.
“We treat rivalry games like other games,” Brothers said. “Kids always think they’re bigger, but we try to treat them like other games. But we obviously try to win those.”