08/12/18 — PREP FOOTBALL: CBA's Brooks revisits teaching roots

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PREP FOOTBALL: CBA's Brooks revisits teaching roots

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 12, 2018 3:11 AM



PIKEVILLE -- Charles B. Aycock could easily have one of the most-talented football teams in the Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference this fall.

There is one drawback, though.

The Golden Falcons are oh so young with unknowns in both trenches and in the passing attack.

There figured to be some growing pains during spring ball and summer workouts, but head coach Steve Brooks accounted for his group's inexperience. He shortened the playbook, simplified offensive and defensive philosophies to give his players some confidence.

They've adjusted to Brooks' teaching ... well ... like a duck takes to water.

"As far as the teaching aspect, I think it's been fun for all us, but especially me as a head coach," Brooks said. "Yes, I'm a play caller and coach the quarterbacks. With this group having such inexperience, it's been really fun for our whole offensive and defensive side of the ball coaching-wise, especially me to actually get to coach the quarterbacks again."

Three QB names are on the whiteboard in the coaches' office -- sophomore Clay Matthews, junior Alijuan Moore and sophomore Kaden Jones.

All three have commanded the huddle during the preseason and are athletic in different ways. Moore has the ability to bounce to the edge, Jones sits longer in the pocket and Matthews -- like his older brothers Chandler and Caleb -- relies on his natural instinct and athletic ability.

Moore, who was on Aycock's 4x1 state-qualifying relay team last spring, and Matthews each earned some playing time at receiver a year ago.

"They all have a little bit something they bring different to the table, and that's unique and fun and can make the offense a little bit different," Brooks said.

Jackson emerged as the team's top ball carrier in 2017.

But the 6-foot-1, 235-pound junior is an explosive, game-changing talent who has gained considerable attention from Division I recruiters as an inside linebacker. Just about everything the Golden Falcons do this fall will depend upon the highly-regarded athlete living up to expectations.

"The guys who coach offense, they joked with me that I was selfish because I didn't let him play defense last year," Brooks said. "That was coming from the running backs coach at Carolina. I told him 'you coach running backs, too.'"

Joining Jackson at inside linebacker is 5-11 senior Tyler Parrish, who led the team in tackles a year ago. Brooks thinks the duo can clog the middle and have a big impact every game, but how much they work each Friday night will depend on how well the front line blocks.

Aycock is more athletic on the back end defensively.

However, Brooks stressed his team must put pressure on every opposing quarterback and find a way to disrupt their offense. The Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference has developed the reputation as a "throw-the-ball-around-the-yard" league -- almost comparable to 7-on-7 passing leagues during the summer.

If there is no consistent pass rush, the Golden Falcons' defensive backs will be called upon to cover somebody in quick fashion. Moore, Matthews, Josh Wall, Adrian "AJ" Lee and newcomer Jaylan Robinson, a possible difference maker who joined the team last spring, will comprise the secondary.

"We can't ever find somebody to be down," Brooks said. "It always seems like the 11 teams we play, everybody is pretty darn good. It seems like everybody we play has one or two great receivers along with a good quarterback, even in our non-conference schedule.

"It's what makes it a dogfight and makes it fun on Friday night."

CBA's fate depends on effort and attitude, two factors it can control.

"I'm a sole believer that sometimes when you play with great effort that overcomes your inability physically and experience-wise," Brooks said. "If you lay it all on the line, you can put your head down at night [to sleep]. Take the gameplan, take what's in front of you, play with great effort, have a great attitude and compete, and you're going to have a chance in the fourth quarter.

"There's obviously some teams who are way better than we are, but at the same time, crazy things happen."

With youth, it usually does.