Terms like “smooth” and “comfortable” rarely rolled off Allen Brothers’ tongue last football season.
Hired at Autaugaville midway through the summer of 2012, Brothers didn’t have the luxury of an entire offseason to install his brand of football to the Eagles because there simply wasn’t enough time to prepare properly with his squad.
In other words: There wasn’t any chemistry.
Now a year later, Autaugaville has established an offseason workout schedule, the coaching staff understands what’s being asked of them and players appear more unified and prepared.
“They’re beginning to trust me, and I am beginning to trust what they can do,” said Brothers, who won three games. “It’s tremendous for this program because, obviously, they will be more comfortable in what we’re doing.”
On Thursday, Brothers introduced another element to his offseason training — the inaugural Soaring Eagles 7-on-7 tournament, an event which featured Wetumpka, Holtville, Marbury, Catholic, Verbena and Prattville Christian.
“I want this to become a place where teams know they’re going to have fun and play competitive games,” said Brothers, whose team finished third. “We’re just trying to work, work, work and see what it takes us.”
Brothers wasn’t alone in hoping for a smoother Year 2 at the helm. He has plenty of company. Head coaches Hunter Adams (Holtville), Doug Prater (Prattville Christian) and Tim Perry (Wetumpka) each experienced similar first years at their new schools, too.
Perry stumbled through a painful campaign during his first season with the Indians, who finished 4-6 in 6A in 2012. Wetumpka defeated Catholic in Thursday’s tournament championship game.
“I think the biggest thing is our players are having a better understanding of our offense and defense,” Perry said. “That allows for several things, that allows for them to play with more confidence and allows for use to execute better. Everybody is just more comfortable with their assignments, and coaches have a better understanding of the players.”
Prater had it twice as difficult with PCA transitioning from the AISA to the AHSAA’s 2A classification. The Panthers, who did have better success in other sports, limped gingerly through a two-win campaign, while also going winless against Region 5 opponents.
“We got our feet wet last year, battled some injuries and played some close games,” Prater said. “Of course, we start on a greater plain this year because the kids know more about the offense and defense. It’s been easier to communicate now, plus I didn’t have a coaching staff until after the Fourth of July, but the transition has been good.”
During his first-ever head coaching gig, Adams saw minimal improvement from his Holtville squad at the 4A level. The Bulldogs’ lone triumph last fall came in the form of a 28-24 victory over Dallas County at home in Week 7.
An established offseason program remains the foundation for future success.
“In the offseason, you got to be more precise in Year 2,” Adams said. “You know what’s necessary. You can address that in several ways. You address that with the coaching staff as far as planning, organization and authority. That makes the kids more familiar with my terminology.”