E.A. Sports Today


Two months into ‘God-led’ move to Weaver, Cofer finds players ‘starving’ to win, willing to discipline itself to get there

Cover photo: First-year Weaver coach Ken Cofer talks during Monday’s preseason interview. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Editor’s note: High school football practice has started, and East Alabama Sports Today editor Joe Medley has begun his annual round of preseason visits to football-playing schools in Calhoun County. Check out East Alabama Sports Today’s Facebook page for live interviews each weekday leading up to season openers. Columns and key facts will also appear at EASportsToday.com and our social-media platforms.

WEAVER — In the 11-man game of football, most mistakes go unnoticed in a pile. An less-trained eye in the stands never sees it.

Weaver under first-year coach Ken Cofer will gladly own it. It’s called self-disciplining, in the form of pushups.

Joe Medley, Editor

“You make a little boo-boo, a mistake, you get over there and do three pushups,” Cofer explained Monday, in a preseason interview. “You drop a pass, you go over there and do three pushups. …

“We don’t have to say anything. They have trained their minds to do that kind of stuff, and, against Donoho, if we jump offsides, line up offsides, you’ll see the whole defense or whole offense doing three pushups on the field, on a game night.”

There’s a new sheriff in Weaver.

He’s the fourth sheriff in five years, but Cofer is a veteran sheriff, having coached four Georgia schools.

After retiring in Georgia and trying two years as Cleburne County’s offensive coordinator, he got the itch to be a head coach again. He’ll be the latest to try to pull Weaver out of its four-year swoon and get it back to playoff football, a Bearcat habit not so long ago.

The cliff drop from eight playoff berths in nine years to three wins in four years requires a steep climb, and the Bearcats have had two months since Cofer’s June 6 hiring to find grips.

They can grip onto the confidence of a coach who’s won elsewhere.

“We expect to make the playoffs, period,” Cofer said.

The sound of confidence makes public pushups acceptible, especially when it comes from a coach who owns what he sees as his own mistakes.

Cofer had five head-coaching stints at four Georgia schools, chasing the rewards of success at Wilcox County when he returned to Dodge County. Who can blame him for jumping offsides?

“When you’re younger, you see some success, and you have all of these other coaches, more money, and a vehicle is offered, and you get your gas paid for,” he said. “When somebody approaches you with that?

“I pride myself on being a Christian, but I make a ton of mistakes all of the time. That was offered to me, and, without consulting with the good Lord, I jumped on it.”

He won a region championship in his last year at Dodge County. Kids, coaches, parents and booster club were great, he said, but he sensed his family wasn’t as happy. He didn’t always feel in a synchronized heartbeat with administration.

He retired from Georgia and moved to Alabama. His wife a Heflin native, he joined Joby Burns’ staff at Cleburne County.

Two years later, Gary Atchley went from Weaver to Jacksonville, where his wife works and younger children attend school. Weaver came looking for a coach.

Back attuned to whispers from above, Cofer felt called to a program trying to climb back up its cliff. Cofer chose trust over proverbial pushups.

Cofer looked at his devotion book the day he was to interview for the Weaver job.

“It made a little comment in there right before I came in here to interview that morning, and it said, ‘If God provides you with an opportunity, see that you take it,'” he said. “It just happened to be that day.”

Two months later, Cofer cites synchronicity with administration. Four assistant coaches who serve as head coaches over a combined six Weaver sports worked to smooth a crammed transition. 

Cofer calls the move to Weaver “God-led,” and his new players don’t mind those potential public pushups.

“I think these kids are starving,” Cofer said. “Starving not for food and stuff, but starving for winning in football. 

“They’ve won in other things, but they’re starving for the weight-lifting program, and it’s been awesome, watching them get better and get excited about the weight room, putting on muscle and flexing, and it carries over to the football field.” 

Bearcat facts

Things to know about Weaver football heading into the 2023 season:

— Ken Cofer enters his first season as Weaver’s head coach after two seasons as Cleburne County’s offensive coordinator. He served five head-coaching stints in Georgia: Cook High School (2010-14), Bacon County High School (2014-16), Dodge County High School (2016-18 and 2019-21) and Wilcox County High School (2018-19). He also served as Cook’s offensive coordinator from 2005-09.

— Weaver went 2-8 in 2022 and has won three games in the past four seasons under two head coaches.

—Key graduation losses from 2022 include three All-Calhoun County players: OL Brent Parks, DB/WR/KR Carson Cason and RB Payton Marton. 

—The following All-Calhoun County picks return: senior QB/DB/DS/WR/KR/K Kaden Gooden, junior FB/TE Christian Marturello, senior OL/LB Richard Knowlton, junior OL/DL Brandon Jolliff and junior OL/DL Eric Barnes.

— Player to watch: Gooden’s many different roles on the team show his impact, and colleges have started to notice his talent. He picked up an offer from Marshall over the summer. RB/LB Gabe King transferred from Pelham, and OL/DL Zach Rhodes moved in from Jacksonville.

— Cofer’s staff includes veteran assistants who are head coaches in other sports … Andrew Fulmer (wrestling, softball), Beau Winn (track, boys’ basketball), Jeremy Harper (baseball) and Chris Strott (soccer). They had input in the search that led to Cofer’s June hiring and have been helpful as Cofer tries to establish culture in such a short turnaround.

—Joe Medley

You must be logged in to post a comment Login