FOOTBALL TAB -- New coach wants players to create their own legacy
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 22, 2013 1:47 PM
PIKEVILLE -- First-year Charles B. Aycock head football coach Steve Brooks has spent more time talking to his seniors about one word that in his mind bears more weight than wins and losses.
That one word is legacy.
What his players do in the classroom, the type of person they are off the field and the type of men they grow up to be goes a long way to determining their legacy in Brooks' eyes. It's a lesson he's preached repeatedly over the summer and plans to remind his players of throughout the season.
"We're trying to make these guys better men, better sons, better boyfriends and one day better fathers and better husbands," Brooks said. "It's not about wins and losses. As a coach and a competitor you want to win, but if we go 0-11 and we've taught them to be better men we've done our job.
"Pushing them to get a great education and do the right thing is our No. 1 goal. I really believe in stressing legacy to our kids."
The Golden Falcons have embraced Brooks' desire to play a smart, fast and physical brand of football during an intense summer of workouts.
The majority of Aycock's assistant coaches remained in place when previous head coach Randy Pinkowski stepped down last December. The continuity among the rest of the coaching staff helped make Brooks' transition into the role of head coach a smooth one.
"The transition has been simple due to the staff that I have," Brooks said. "The staff said 'we're here for the kids' and they put the kids through the breaks this summer and they busted their rear ends in the weight room this summer.
"Me and the other new coaches that have come in have tried to embrace what Aycock is and have tried to create a family atmosphere."
Junior quarterback T.J. Morrow, a transfer from River Valley High School in Yuba City, Calif., has turned heads in practice, 7-on-7 passing league games and scrimmages throughout the summer. The 6-foot, 165-pound Morrow ran an offense at River Valley that was similar to the shotgun oriented, wing-T scheme Brooks has installed.
"Our offense is very similar to what we ran when I was in California," Morrow said. "I feel like my transition into the starting role has been smooth and I really worked hard with the receivers during the passing league to develop chemistry. I've seen my arm strength and my ability to see the field improve over the summer."
A football, basketball and track athlete, Morrow has demonstrated keen field vision, a strong arm and an awareness of when to pull the ball down and run. Brooks has also been impressed with Morrow's ability to command the huddle, and lead his teammates with his words and his play.
"I don't think you wouldn't find 10 other guys on our football team that would say they wouldn't follow T.J. into a fox hole," Brooks said. "At the same time the guys know who the senior leaders on our team are so T.J. doesn't have to worry about being the guy. He throws the ball so well, and he's already shown the ability to see the field and to get the football where it needs to be."
Senior Neil Clark returns to the backfield and has been described by Brooks as, "the best running back I've ever coached."
Fellow seniors Michael Eutsey and Austin Westbrook have locked down the starting receiver positions over the summer. Eutsey and Westbrook not only possess play-making ability in the passing game but their willingness to block on running plays has pleased Brooks.
"Michael is an explosive, athletic kid that can go and make plays," Brooks said. "Austin has great hands and he's got the ability to go and get the football. Both of those guys have done a great job blocking this summer and all of our receivers know if they don't block they aren't going to see the field."
Senior Battle Burnette returns to the offensive line after missing all of the 2012 season with an injury he endured in a summer practice. Jackson Yelverton, another senior, is also back up front on a line that helped the Golden Falcons average almost 22 points a game a year ago. Aycock also racked up close to 4,000 yards of total offense last season.
The Golden Falcons return six starters to a defense that has Brooks admittedly excited.
Eutsey is expected to be used in a "Spur" position and has the ability to line up at various positions depending on the opponent's offensive alignment. Middle linebacker Triston O'Brien has caught Brooks' eye in practice and Dillon Baker has found a home after moving to safety.
Tyree McNair will anchor the defensive line.
Aycock finished 6-6 last season including a 3-3 mark in Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference play. The Golden Falcons reached the second round of the state playoffs before losing at Eastern Alamance.
Aycock opens the season at home against Rosewood and begins play in the new Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference on Sept. 27 at defending 4-A state champion New Bern.
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