E.A. Sports Today

Ohatchee: All eyes ahead

 

New Ohatchee football coach Scott Martin has his players focusing on the future instead of dwelling on the past.

New Ohatchee football coach Scott Martin has his players focusing on the future instead of dwelling on the past.

Under new coach, Indians seeking first winning season, playoff berth in 11 years

Editors Note: This is the second in a series of previews on Calhoun County high school football teams. We featured Anniston earlier this summer.

By Al Muskewitz

East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE – If Scott Martin had his way – and it didn’t infringe on any highway safety rules – he’d remove all the rear-view mirrors from every car in the field house parking lot.

Under the new Ohatchee football coach, the view is always going to be through the windshield, looking forward, not looking back.

That’s probably a good thing for a program that hasn’t had a winning season or playoff appearance since 2003. The only way to change that culture, said Martin, the Indians’ fifth head coach in that span and third in five years, is to not dwell on the past.

“Our big concentration all year has been about no rear-view mirrors,” he said. “I think it’s important we put the past behind us. You learn from it, but we don’t want to get caught up in what we did last year, this is what happened last year, this is how it’s been the last five or 10 years. At some point we’ve got to break that mold.

“I haven’t been caught up in the past. I don’t know very much about their past, so what I’m doing is I’m coming in and here’s my ideas, here’s our plan, this is what we’re going do, this is how we’re going to work these kids out, this is what our goals and emphasis is going to be.”

And that’s no different an approach, he said, than when he had winning teams at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa and Calera prior to coming to The Creek Bank this spring and when he was on championship teams at Louisiana power Destrehan.

“We’re not going to treat this team any differently because they haven’t won games in 10-11 years,” Martin said. “It’s the same work process, so I know it works. Now, it’s a matter of transferring over to the kids and I believe the kids have really embraced what we’re doing. It’s been a very good spring and summer so far.”

He’s not just saying that. The players genuinely have embraced what the new coach is selling. They’re hungry for things to change. Their best years since the program’s last winning season were back-to-back 5-5 in 2006 and 2007. That was four coaches ago.

Last year’s team won one game – and that was a forfeit. They haven’t won on the field since Nov. 1, 2012, and haven’t won a season-opener since 2009.

“The motto we have is don’t look back and we just don’t talk about (the past),” senior lineman Caleb Dickey said. “Last year was the first year I ever played, really, so I can embrace that – I don’t have anything to look back at.

“I really think we have a chance this year. He’s changed a lot and changed for the better. We like a lot of things he does and a lot of the things he says He’s straight-forward.”

Martin has been down this road before and gotten results.

His first coaching job in 1993 was with a struggling program and over the next four years he went from 0-10 to 7-3 and the program’s first district title since 1958. It went 7-3 the following year and made the playoffs again, back-to-back for the first time in 41 years.

“I probably don’t have the patience to wait four years anymore, so I want to win more games than none the first year,” he said. “But I would hope in 30 years of coaching my experience level is going to allow us to speed that process up. You’ve still got to have players who can get it done.”

He believes he does. Shortly after the new coach arrived, the program lost five players for various reasons that in a smaller program like Ohatchee’s would have accounted for 10 positions. Still, the cupboard’s not bare.

The Indians are going to be young in the skill positions. Quarterback Taylor Eubanks and running back Austin Tucker both are sophomores and their receivers are underclassmen, but senior RB-LB Coleman McCombs does return after suffering a broken leg in the Red-White Game right before last season started.

The team’s strength clearly lies in its line. Even though the Indians lost two linemen to knee injuries in the spring, Martin still is hopeful of playing up to 12 in a game with the goal of each giving “five quality snaps” a half. Center Kyle Wesley is flanked on his left by Dickey and Garrett Young and his right by Tom Barnett and Hunter Barclay.

“I don’t think we’re short of having players in key positions,” Martin said. “We don’t get caught up in what we don’t have; don’t sell the kids short that you’ve got who are still there. Somebody’s going to step up and do a great job for us. Somebody’s going to be put in a different situation and they’re going to be able to answer that bell.

“As coaches we haven’t changed our mentality towards that and I think the kids feed off of that. I think when the players see the coaches move forward with confidence it gives them more confidence. As things happen we just move on. We just keep moving forward and that’s going to benefit us.”

Al Muskewitz is Content Editor/Senior Writer of East Alabama Sports Today. He can be reached at musky@wrightmediacorp.com and followed on Twitter @easportstoday1.

 

OHATCHEE INDIANS

Aug. 22 — at Southeastern School

Aug. 29

Sept. 5 — Westbrook Christian

Sept. 12 — at Piedmont

Sept. 19 — Ashville

Sept. 26 — Cherokee County

Oct. 3 — at Weaver

Oct. 10 — Glencoe

Oct. 17 — at Pleasant Valley

Oct. 24 — Wellborn

Oct. 31 — at Ragland



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