Coming off a second-round playoff finish in 2013, Autaugaville headed into last season with much higher expectations.
The Eagles weren’t the same in 2014. They ended last season with eight straight losses and their worst record (1-8) since it posted the same mark in 2007.
The Eagles gave up 376 points in 2014. Autaugaville allowed at least 40 points five times and allowed at least 60 points three times.
Autaugaville head coach Allen Brothers said he takes full responsibility for the defensive woes, but said the defense wasn’t their only issue last season.
“Our numbers were low last season,” Brothers said. “We lost some great players last season, and it’s hard for a 1A program to maintain consistency. I had to recruit the hallways to find more players for this season, but we should be a lot better.”
The Eagles sputtered to average 14 points a game. Brothers said the success during 7-on-7 this summer will be a huge lift.
“We’ve vastly improved our passing game,” Brothers said. “A lot of our skill position guys are returning from last year. We’re a little weak up front, but our focus will be to move the chains and get off as many plays as we can.”
Eagles senior wide receiver Stefan Palmer said the team was inexperienced last season, but he hopes they’ve learned from their mistakes. Palmer said the offensive line will take the Eagles as far as they want to go this season.
“The seniors have to step it up and the team needs to feed off our leadership,” Palmer said. “Our offensive line has to know they’re getting better. There wasn’t a lot of encouragement last season, so we need to try to change that.”
The Eagles will switch to a multiple 3-3 defense this season, and Brothers said the new scheme will help add intensity and aggression.
“We couldn’t win in the trenches last year,” Brothers said. “The big key for us is stopping the run. We just could not do that last year. It really got to me because I’m a defensive coach. We’ve added some different fronts and blitzes that we think will revamp our defense.”
Senior cornerback/wide receiver Dwayne Jones-Smith says health will be a big factor for the success of the defense.
“We had a lot of injuries last season,” Jones-Smith said. “We’ve improved a lot, and we don’t want to look back at last year. We do want to learn from it and work hard at everything we want to do.”
The Eagles are no stranger to success, but have a lot more to prove in 2015. Brothers said there’s more continuity in his locker room this time around.
“We had more players attend summer workouts,” Brothers said. “We’ve handled the offseason very well, and we also had a great spring. Our kids are confident and are working hard each day.”
Region: Class 1A, Region 3
2014: 1-8 (0-5 region)
Coach: Allen Brothers (fourth season, 12-19)
Coordinators: Todd Thayer (offense), Malcolm Palmer (defense)
Best-case scenario: The Eagles follow the roller-coaster trend of Brothers’ first three seasons and go 7-4.
Worst-case scenario: Last year’s porous defense returns and Autaugaville amends its nickname to the Scalded Eagles.
Friday Greene Co.
Aug. 28 at Calhoun
Sept. 4 at Verbena
Sept. 11 Isabella
Sept. 18 at Notasulga
Sept. 25 Central-Hayneville
Oct. 2 Kinston
Oct. 9 open
Oct. 16 at Loachapoka
Oct. 23 Billingsley
Oct. 29 at R.C. Hatch
Calhoun W, 30-16
Verbena L, 24-20
at Isabella L, 49-0
Notasulga L, 40-6
at Central-Hayneville L, 34-14
at Kinston L, 61-18
Loachapoka L, 24-12
at Billingsley L, 60-6
R.C. Hatch L, 68-20
— A. Stacy Long