After a much-needed (and rare for me) weekend break to rest up before getting to work on the Walker County Playbook 2018, I had a chance to also reflect on our second annual Football Media Day that …
After a much-needed (and rare for me) weekend break to rest up before getting to work on the Walker County Playbook 2018, I had a chance to also reflect on our second annual Football Media Day that took place on Friday.
I think I can speak for not only the staff here at the Daily Mountain Eagle and WJLX 101.5, but for the coaches and players in our area who participated — Media Day 2018 was a great success (once we got past the initial technical difficulties).
Mr. Bean’s was a superb venue to hold the event — Butterbean and his entire staff went above the call to ensure Media Day was going to be special for everyone involved. Though the big guy might be years removed from action in the squared circle, he’s still finding a way to score knockouts and we appreciate the work of the Mr. Bean’s family.
I was greatly amazed by the poise of not only the coaches, but the vast majority of the players at Media Day this year. When posed questions, very few players and coaches responded with short, drab, one-sentence answers — instead, we were treated to thoughtful insights that made us smile. They were a genuine joy to interview and we can only hope that our future Media Day participants are as insightful as they were.
At this point, I think I’ll borrow a moniker from my colleague Ed Howell’s weekly column and say “Let’s clean out the Media Day 2018 notebook,” for my thoughts on some of the things we heard and witnessed on Friday:
— Mark my words: This year we’ll see a much different Carbon Hill Bulldog team than we’ve seen in over 10 years. There’s a buzz around the program and this year’s team, and rightfully so. A wealth of experience follows this squad into 2018 and there’s plenty of playmakers to set the tone on offense and defense. It’s clear that head coach Scott Curd and assistant coach Chavis Williams have worked hard to get the most out of the Bulldogs in terms of strength and conditioning in the offseason — the young men who were present Friday all looked formidable regardless of position. It should translate into more victories for the program and I believe Carbon Hill fans will genuinely enjoy watching the play of their Bulldogs this season.
— Oakman head coach Mark Hastings is beginning his 10th season with the Wildcats, a rarity in our area. Whereas most coaches in the Walker County coverage area stay at a position for between 2-4 years before departing for various reasons, coach Hastings continues to put quality football teams on the field year-in and year-out — to the average of eight wins a season and always at least one victory in the postseason. He’s also a man of good character, kind and gracious with his time and a joy for Sports Editor Johnathan Bentley and I to deal with.
— The Dora Bulldogs replace a lot of stellar playmakers to graduation. Don’t let that opening statement fool you — yes, Dora will have some re-tooling to do from the onset as new starters get adjusted to life in the heat of the action. However, the upside of this team should definitely turns some heads throughout the Bulldogs’ schedule. Accurately predicting what Dora will do at this point is too variable, but if growth gets close to matching the potential the rabid Bulldog fan base will have plenty to go wild about.
— Friday was my first time to meet and interview new Jasper head coach Bryan Moore. To say I was impressed was an understatement. Moore has a great philosophy in not only what he expects from his players on the field, but even more importantly, off the field. I personally love to hear of a coach who treasures the fullback position on offense — which is nearly gone extinct in today’s era of no-huddle, spread offenses. His example of college coach Mike Leach’s eradication of the fullback position in his programs and having little success scoring within the 20-yard line struck a tone. It harkens to a time where execution, not gimmicks, won football games. His mindset on how he expects his players to carry themselves as part of the Viking program spells success on many levels — another aspect that rings a bell. There may be a growth period for coach Moore and his staff to get the results they desire, but I’m confident those results will come sooner than later.
— Everyone watching and/or listening to Media Day got to experience one of the Eagle’s secret weapons — correspondent Zak McCullar, whose football knowledge and interviewing skills dazzled coaches and players throughout Friday. Zak joined us on the final segment of the day during our reading of the Eagle Elite Preseason Team to announce the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, as well as posed some excellent questions during each team’s time at the microphone. I’ve come to know Zak well enough over the past few years to realize that we all better be on the lookout — we most likely will see him on a broadcast crew for a football team in the future. Until then, we’re overjoyed to have a Zak as a part of our team before he hits the big time.
W. Brian Hale is the sports writer for the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.