Allen Brothers had a lot of walls to tear down after accepting the head football coaching position at Autaugaville two summers ago.
He had just became the third coach in as many seasons at the school, so parents and players weren’t exactly chopping at the bit or offering a friendly ear about Brothers’ plans of creating a championship atmosphere.
It wasn’t that they were rude, rather they were more interested in discovering whether Brothers had lasting power.
“I remember the first parent meeting, we had about 10 parents there which is about what you’re going to get from a 1A school,” he said. “And they were wondering if I was going to stick around, that was the biggest thing around here for this community.
“They wondered was somebody going to come in and not look for this to be a stepping stone, but rather look for this to be a place where you were going to build something.”
Antonio “Bam” Richards coached the Eagles for one season prior to stepping down, and Will Randolph did a repeat performance the following year in 2011, leaving the school without a head coach once again. Both former coaches led the school to the playoffs.
Brothers — Autaugaville’s defensive coordinator from 2006-2008 — believes not everyone’s cut out for life at the 1A level. It’s the small community, hands-on approach that ultimately led him to apply for the then-vacant position while still at Marbury, a program which had began preparing to leap from 3A to 5A.
“You’re not just coaching,” he said. “I had missed that. At Marbury, we had a crew who would come out to cut the grass and stuff like that, so you had more time to put into coaching. Here, we wash the clothes, guys from the community come help cut the grass and paint the field.
“Everything that we do here is basically solely based from us. It takes a toll on you as far as your preparation and commitment level, but you have to be committed to do it all.”
Those examples of willingness played a large role in getting players and parents to buy in to what Brothers was selling.
“It shows that he wants to be here and that he wants us to succeed,” senior Ell White III said. “If we don’t buy, in there’s nothing he can do. He cuts and paints the field, which means he wants us to look good on Friday nights. It made me feel prideful because nowadays, a lot of people from my generation don’t take pride in anything.”
Of course, gaining the community’s trust didn’t happen overnight. Autaugaville took its lumps in 2012, finishing with a dismal 3-7 campaign during the first season under Brothers, who had never been a head coach at the varsity level.
Despite the losing season, Brothers was able send the Eagles through offseason workouts implemented by the same coach the school ended the season with for the first time in three summers.
“They did a lot of work in the summertime,” the second-year coach said. “Plus, they were able to get more comfortable to what we were doing offensively and be more balanced. Now, guys are trusting what we are doing and understanding the details.”
And boy, has it paid off. Autaugaville (3-1, 3-0) enters Friday’s road game at John Essex riding a three-game winning streak and has put itself in position to challenge for a postseason berth.
“I’ve bought into his program and stand behind him,” said Davonte Well, a senior linebacker and receiver. “At times it was hard, especially last year, but I feel good that everything is starting to come together.”