That’s the situation new Carbon Hill High School football coach Woody Smothers inherits.
Smothers, who has been an assistant on successful staffs at Walker, Cordova and Muscle Shoals, spent last season as the offensive coordinator at Addison High School.
Why did he take the job at Carbon Hill?
One word — “potential.”
“There’s a lot of opportunity here to vastly improve, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication,” Smothers said. “I can’t do this by myself. There is no way.
“If we don’t change the way things have been done around here, they will be looking for another coach in three to five years — they will get rid of me. We can’t do the same thing we’ve been doing here.”
Carbon Hill has endured back-to-back winless seasons while playing in a very competitive Class 4A, Region 8. Over the last two seasons, the schedule included games against Calera, Bibb County, Jemison and Dora.
The overmatched Bulldogs, who gave up an average of 52.2 points in region games, were done in by sheer numbers. While the Bulldogs had 25 players on the team, most of their opponents have more than 50.
Smothers needs players, but won’t pressure anyone into playing.
“I don’t try (talking them into it) because if you talk a kid into doing something he really doesn’t want to do, in the long run, it’s going to hurt you and the program.There’s more football players up there that need to be playing. The only way I can get them out is to win, and that’s the hard part. It’s sort of — how can you win if you don’t have the players, and how do you get players if they don’t come out until you win,” Smothers said.
The 2014 football schedule is more favorable than last year’s gauntlet.
Both Curry and Cordova are on the region schedule this year. Carbon Hill also plays Winston County and Lynn in non-region games.
“It’s much easier to come here with the schedule we have than what they had last year. It’s a more competitive schedule now,” he said.
Carbon Hill’s last victory came in the 2011 season finale against Cold Springs.
Smothers feels a win in 2014 would go a long way.
“It would be huge. I don’t even understand the magnitude, or the feeling these kids would feel when they win that first football game. I don’t understand it like the faculty up here does. I don’t understand it like the parents of these seniors, who have went through this school for four years. When they win that first game, I can’t imagine how it will feel,” Smothers said.
Before the first game, Smothers has a lot of work to do.
“What I’m trying to do is lay a foundation at the school. I’m trying to let the kids know — whether they play football or not — that I’m here for them. I want to be a role model for them. The kids that play for me, I want them to know we have to instill pride back in the school. If you don’t have any pride in what you are doing, you aren’t going to do it right,” he said.
“What they want out of the football season is how much work they are going to put in now, leading up to the season. Friday night is the reward, it’s not where you do the work. You do the work before Friday night.”
Smothers is still undecided on playing a spring jamboree game, or just playing an inter-squad game.
The 2014 season will start on Aug. 22 at home against Northside.