It wasn’t easy at times, but through sheer force of will by its players and coaches, the Brewer football team made great strides as a program in 2022.
That season ended last Friday with a 5A, first-round playoff loss at Scottsboro, 45-14. The Wildcats (7-4) play at undefeated Leeds (10-0) in a second-round game.
While disappointed, Brewer coach Matt Plunkett knows his players reached a new standard for the Patriots that he’s certain can and will be sustained for the next few years – at least. The team was 0-10 two seasons ago and 2-8 last year but finished 5-6 this season.
“This football season was a roller coaster of emotions per se.,” he said. “We felt we could be competitive this season and felt stronger as program coming out of the summer.
“I still felt we had some players who were unsure of themselves and lacked the confidence it takes to win at the highest level in 5A.”
Senior Caden Childers wasn’t one of those players. The quarterback threw two touchdown passes in the loss to Scottsboro, one for 62 yards to Austyn Holmes and another for 9 yards to rising young star Walker Latham.
Still, Childers went through some adversity as well, as the offense wasn’t always as effective as Plunkett hoped, especially in the red zone.
There were other hurdles. Big senior defensive lineman Carson Humphries, 6-foot-5, 321 pounds, was lost at midseason because of a very serious car wreck.
“Carson, thankfully, walked away from the wreck but his injuries led to him missing five games his senior year,” Plunkett said. “He fought hard to make it back for the state playoff game and was able to play in a limited role.
“We were very proud of our team and Carson for rallying around each other at the end of the season.”
Also, Brewer faced some internal issues that led to the dismissal of two players. After that, things seemed to get better.
“As a coach, I’m very proud of how our leadership inside our team handled this and moved forward immediately,” Plunkett said. “And I thought this leadership showed strongly the last few games of the year.
“I’m very proud of the progress we have made at Brewer, but we also missed some great opportunities this season. We matured as a team late in the year and did what it took to be a 5A playoff team.”
Plunkett added getting to the state playoffs is a great accomplishment for the Brewer program in general but one he hopes becomes standard fare moving forward.
“This is the second time in the last 20 years the program made it to the playoff level,” he said. “We are very young as a football program and are going to return a core nucleus of great, hard-nosed young me who have been through the fire.
“We will have four freshman starters, five sophomore starters and six junior starters all returning, along with a huge class of 26 freshmen.
“The boys are very hungry for bigger and better results! I believe the sky is the limit.”
Brewer’s development into a playoff-caliber team, Plunkett believes, is being assisted by the upward trajectories of nearby foes.
“Arab and Fairview and Priceville have all recently had or currently having record-breaking seasons, and that fact alone makes the football in our area/region even better,” he said. “I believe Brewer football has the kids and the ability to build our program into a region champ and compete with the top teams in our area.
“The work will take place in the weight room this off season and the players are only going to continue to build confidence moving forward. Our kids are developing great pride and we are learning how to win.
“We have a ways to go still but I have great confidence in our boys from Brewer and the future is going to be very bright.
“This is a great time to be a Brewer Patriot!”
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