The football team’s season took an unexpected turn on Oct. 10 when Principal Tripp Burton distributed letters to the team and their parents explaining that head coach Jamie Carter would not continue coaching.
Athletic director Mark Holmes is standing in as the head coach and math teacher Mark Scott and physical education and strength coach Ryan Bailey are the new assistant coaches. Scott’s approach to coaching is slightly different than Carter’s, but he is confident that the team can move forward.
“The big thing is for them to believe in what we’re trying to teach and accomplish with them because there are some minor differences in what we’re doing and what coach Carter was doing,” Scott said. “I want them to understand that even if we don’t win, we want to get better and hopefully [in the future] we have an even better chance at winning.”
Although Carter’s sudden absence has shaken up the team, senior Spicer Sabruno believes he and his teammates can make this situation positive.
“We’ve had to deal with a lot of adversity, but I honestly think the team’s gotten closer in his absence,” Sabruno said. “A lot of things have changed; we have a lot of new assistant coaches, our program is moving in a different direction now, and we’re just trying to get the good things out of this situation.”
Senior Zach Evans concurs.
“He was a big part of our team and we lost him, but now we’ve also gained other coaches who can really help out, so it could be for the better,” Evans said. “At first we thought it would slow us down, but it’s kind of picked us up and leadership has really emerged.”
Scott stepped down as head coach three years ago because of the time commitment, but felt compelled to fill in for Carter because he believes he has a duty to the school community.
“I did feel a little bit of an obligation to step up and help the kids. I wanted to make sure they were getting the best out of their experience,” Scott said. “It’s fun for me because I have a lot of things I can correct and teach. I enjoy the game planning, working all week and then getting that one opportunity to execute it.”
The student-run fan section, the Zoo, has also been doing its part. Senior Louis Heisler remembers the homecoming game and the students’ cheers that helped push him through a rough last few minutes to lead the team to victory.
“I love the Zoo. Half the fun of the game is listening to them cheer,” Heisler said. “Whenever I’m breaking down or anything, it’s in the back of my head and I’m listening for the little screams.”
The team is a little over halfway through the season with a record of 3-4. Despite the distractions, coaches and players are keeping their sights on playoff season and for Scott, a strong team mentality.
“As a staff we’re going to work towards holding them accountable for what their assignments are,” Scott said. “I’ve already talked to them that, this season, moving forward is not about whether we win or lose. It’s about getting better every day and learning the life lessons about working, persevering, and coming together as a team.”