Every time I speak with Brindlee Mountain coach Keith Garner, I’m amazed at his optimism. It’s admirable.
He knows the situation he, his coaches and his student-athletes face at Brindlee Mountain. It’s a small, rural school that draws from a large territory. Some students spend maybe an hour on bus rides to school.
Not all have the where-withal to consistly get rides home after football practice. It makes for an unsteady – at times – situation for players and for those who coach them, predating Garner for sure. It’s one of several reasons the team has won three times just once. Every season has ended with a losing record.
Now, there have been bright spots, but it seems – again, predating Garner but including him also – the program takes one step forward but follows that with two or three back.
It’s just been the nature of Brindlee Mountain football, which has not had the benefit of a consistent feeder system, like travel ball or rec league teams. Players who come out for middle school football often are playing the game for the first time.
But through it all, Garner remains steadfast in his belief Brindlee Mountain can have a successful program. And this time, he might be right.
Now, I’m not predicting a winning season in 2019 for this still-young team (just three seniors). But some of the building blocks Garner – and others – have been trying to put in place, finally seem to be taking hold.
One is the recruitment of athletes in other sports. Garner has had success in this previously, but it hasn’t been sustained. This past spring, he got several athletes to come out and give football a try and – surprise, surprise – many of them stuck around and seem to be in line for significant playing time this season.
One is Christian Adams, a 6-foot, 160-pound basketball player who is projected to play wide receiver and defensive back. He’s a junior.
“Christian came out in the spring and we’ve been able to keep him out,” Garner said. “He’s a tall, rangy kid.
“When he came out this spring, he was immediately one of our better players. I’m excited about him. He has a chance to be a really good football player.”
The key point there is Adams stayed on the team through summer workouts. Garner believes that’s going to be a growing trend at Brindlee Mountain.
“We’re making a turn to get all the athletes at the school getting more involved, and we’re having more success getting them out and keeping them out,” he said. “We’ve made a school-wide push to have a unified strength program with Evan Lemons in charge.”
Lemons, who coaches basketball, cross country and track, has a strong strength and conditioning background, according to Garner.
“He’s been a real strength for us,” Garner said. “We’ve had a lot of division among the athletes in the past, and he’s helping us close the gap, to pull the kids together.”
Garner senses something special starting to happen in the overall Brindlee Mountain athletic program.
“Every coach, it’s like a band of brothers,” he said. “Everyone is working well together.
“We all want what’s best for Brindlee Mountain and the students.”
• When the Cubs acquired Derek Holland last week, they reunited him with former Wallace State-Hanceville teammate Craig Kimbrel.
• In case you missed it – I didn’t but forgot to mention it Saturday – ESPN’s College Game Day will be at the Week 1 Oregon-Auburn game in Dallas (Aug. 31).
• One interesting note pointed out by The Tuscaloosa News’ Cecil Hurt is that Alabama had 10 offensive players named to the first, second or third team All-SEC preseason predictions (QB, RB, TE, three WRs and four OL).
Basically, that’s everyone but the center and the guy who caught the game-winning pass in the College Football Playoff Championship as a freshman (Devonta Smith).