It’s safe to say Edgewood Academy (Elmore, Ala.) had an eventful offseason.
In the eight months since the Wildcats celebrated a sixth consecutive state championship and extended their winning streak to 71 games, everything has changed.
They lost their coach in June, lost a lot of talented players and withdrew from the Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl to start the season.
But the roster flux and coaching changes have opened the door for new players and coaches alike.
Edgewood opens the season Friday against Morgan Academy (Selma) and puts the nation’s longest active winning streak in 11-man football on the line. It is the 12th longest football streak of all time.
“We have really good athletes that maybe at some point haven’t got the opportunity to really show what they can do,” coach Eric Folmar said. “We’ve got a good group of kids that have worked really hard, that have stayed positive and stuck with us through this whole thing.
“It’ll be a little more ‘iron-man’ football than what’s been at the school the past few years, but that’s the way it is at most small schools — you’ve got to play both ways and never come off the field. That’s what we’ve expected of our guys this year, and they’ve stepped up to the challenge.”
Folmar, an Edgewood graduate, takes over for Bobby Carr. He played for Carr in 2003, and was a member of Carr’s championship staff in 2010.
Some of those players getting their opportunity are seniors Tanner Payton and Matt Waters.
Payton started at cornerback last season, and will play wide receiver as well this year. He said Folmar has been keeping them positive during the whirlwind summer.
“Like coach has said a bunch this summer, ‘If losing a couple players and a coach from a football team is the worst thing we face in life, then we’ll have a pretty dang good life,’ ” Payton said. “So I haven’t worried about it too much. I’m just happy. Nothing’s changed. I’m the same person, optimistic.”
Waters — an outside linebacker fighting for the quarterback spot — echoed Payton’s sentiments.
As for the winning streak or the championships, they’re non-factors.
“You hear about it, but I just don’t put a lot of thought into it,” Waters said.
There’s no denying there’s been change at Edgewood, but it’s been as stable as it could considering the circumstances.
Folmar’s late hiring put the Wildcats behind schedule, but he grew up in Carr’s system. He won’t be a copy of Carr, but they’re likely to have similarities and he knows how Carr ran things.
“Luckily, we’ve got a few guys on staff that’ve been around Edgewood for a long time, so it’s not a complete overhaul,” Folmar said. “Myself and coach Carr are the same in a lot of ways, similar in the way we go about doing things, so it hasn’t been a complete overhaul.”