The upheaval of the sports has had a major effect on high school football coaches across Alabama, but for first-year head coaches like Central-Phenix City’s Patrick Nix and LaFayette’s Juan Williams, making the best use of their limited time is even more important as they try to introduce themselves to their new teams.
Nix is no stranger to success after leading Pinson Valley to a pair of state championships in his three seasons as head coach. This is a new challenge for the former Auburn University quarterback though.
“Quite honestly at our level, most schools, most teams in the state have a lot of seniors that play and lose them,” Nix said. “So you are really counting on an offseason in the spring and summer to really get a lot of reps with guys who haven’t played as much.”
Nix is grateful that he did have some time with his players before the hiatus began.
“The good thing is we had two months when we did see them,” Nix said. “Pretty much had our staff hired by then and were able to spend a lot of quality time with (the players), get to know them and them get to know us. Very thankful for that.”
Building a culture
Tallassee veteran head coach Mike Battles Jr., says he doesn’t feel like the advantage of being a veteran head coach is as much about football and teaching the game as as it is about the new coaches having less time to establish the culture they want.
“The X’s and O’s, you have time,” Battles explained. “Those things (regarding team culture) are different, they take time. That would be difficult.”
Nix has been happy with the way his group has bought in to his coaching.
“All kids are the same,” Nix said. “They want to win, and they want to be loved and respected. If you love and respect them, and get after them and give them an opportunity to be successful, there is not a whole lot of problems. I think we’ve done that.”
Williams feels the disadvantage is mitigated a bit considering that everyone is in the same boat.
“With stuff being unprecedented, the advantage is the disadvantage,” Williams said. “Everyone is pretty much at the same disadvantage I feel.”
Controlling what you can
Over the first few workouts after starting up, Williams and his Bulldogs have had additional learning to undertake with following social distance protocols in addition to the football things he needs his team to learn.
“We started last week, but it was a lot of learning how to deal with the mask, learning how to wipe down after each one, keep clean, go wash your hands and we are still learning that,” Williams said.
Williams is planning on keeping up with the guidelines sent down from local and state officials. He is following an old cliche and ‘controlling what you can control.’
“We are doing what we would always do,” Williams said. “We aren’t varying from the path of what we would always do. We are still going to install, do what we are supposed to do when we are supposed to do it. That is something that we can control. Things that we can’t control, we can’t worry about, but things that we control like install and working our kids out, we are going to do that.