By Reid Bankson
Coaching changes are rarely ever easy, whether it be in little league, or the high money professional leagues, new coaches often are faced with the dubious challenge of winning over sometimes reluctant communities, colleagues, and players.
However, for Water Valley’s first year head football coach Brad Embry, that quite simply has not been the case. After rumblings in the community shortly arose after Embry’s hire, the former Tupelo offensive line coach and his staff have made a smooth transition into the Blue Devil football program.
“It’s been great, the kids have done what I’ve asked, and we’ve made some improvements to our field house, and the community played a huge part in allowing that to happen, they’ve been great too,” said Embry. “So far so good.”
Now that Embry has recorded his first off-the-field victory by winning over his players and the community, the Bruce native must now turn his attention to resurrecting a football program that suffered several confidence crippling losses in 2007 on their way to a 2-8 record.
While it’s never easy to turn around a program at the first time of asking, both players and coach believe that with a solid belief in hard work and mental and physical readiness, a noticeable turnaround could be in store for the Blue Devils.
“These guys want to win, they just need to understand it doesn’t just happen,” said Embry. “They have to learn what it takes to win. During practices, we’ll come together to talk about finishing and working hard.”
While it’s only been a short time since Embry’s take over at Water Valley, the effects of his teaching is evident in both players and coaches.
“I like Coach Embry because he’s all about preparing to win rather than just wanting to win,” said running back and free safety Davidtron “DC” Logan.
Although the Blue Devils were far from a success last season, first year defensive coordinator Richard Russo and his fellow coaches believe that their team is prepared to take advantage of their first chance at redemption.
“We don’t even talk about it (2007 season), we’ve all got the same goals this year,” said Russo. “We want to restore the pride in the Water Valley football program.”
Becoming a Family
While Water Valley’s season opener against fierce rival Coffeeville is a little over a week away, the Blue Devils’ staff and players are preparing to take on the 2008 season together, as family.
“The whole team has to be a family,” said defensive tackle coach and former Blue Devil standout Bryant Mix. “When it comes down to it, it’s going to be us and these kids.”
The Blue Devils overall lack of unity was one of the team’s downfalls in 2007 according to Logan, but Water Valley is determined to not let that hamper them this season. As for developing that unity, the Blue Devils coaching staff is leading by example.
“To coach together, you have to be able to talk as friends,” said wide receivers and safeties coach Shane Brown. “And we’re there, we’ve been there since the first week.”
If this is to be a season where Water Valley makes tremendous strides forward, that chemistry and overall family attitude will have to continue to develop throughout season. If the Blue Devils can accomplish that, Embry and his staff and players could make the 2007 season a very distant memory.