MCHS, MCMS football • Morgan football programs to merge
By Jonathan Branch
From the mascot and players to playbooks and planning, a big change is taking place in the football program at Morgan County Middle School.
Beginning this summer, Morgan County’s High School and Middle School football programs will work together in a unification effort to help develop and prepare athletes for high school.
No longer will the middle school program work independently from the high school program. No longer will the middle school teams compete in the Piedmont Athletic Conference. No longer will the two programs use different terminology and techniques.
Instead, middle school coaches will work more closely with the varsity staff and use terminologies and techniques that are consistent with the varsity team. The middle school team will also secede from the Piedmont Athletic Conference, instead playing schools with larger populations.
“It has been evident to me for years that kids were coming to us in the ninth grade and hearing something completely different than what they had heard the previous six or seven years of playing football,” said varsity head coach Bill Malone. “Terminology has been so divided that we start at ground zero.”
Morgan County Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett gave MCHS head coach Bill Malone the OK in the spring after several months of planning.
“This is something that, since I’ve been head coach, I’ve pushed for,” said Malone. “All it took was Dr. Bennett saying ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”
Aside from the aforementioned changes, Morgan County’s Middle School football coaches will be more involved at the varsity level, partaking in meetings and attending the sidelines on Friday nights. The middle school coaches will join the varsity staff full-time upon completion of the middle school season.
“Everyone is a football coach. There’s no ‘middle school’ or ‘varsity’ coach,” said Malone. “Everybody is a football coach.”
Moving forward, the high school coach will be in charge of football activities in grades 7-12.
“Stacey Webb is the head coach of middle school. Milfred Franklin, Brian Johnson and Mark Roper will help him,” said Malone.
The uniforms for the middle school team will also look different moving forward. Aside from growing out of the “Bullpup” mascot and into “Bulldogs,” the team will also use the block “M” logo like the high school team, and coaches in both programs will be outfitted with the same apparel.
“I think we’re going to see a community getting more excited about rallying around a program instead of a group of juniors or seniors,” said Malone.
Another key component of the plan calls for a new strength and conditioning program available to eighth grade football players.
“I see us having immediate results,” said Malone of the new strength program. “Schemes alone won’t win you a championship, but athletes without schemes and knowledge won’t win you one either. We need the combination of both—kids that can play and know our system.”
The unification process is already underway and will be in full effect by the start of the 2012-2013 school year and football season.
Printed in the June 21, 2012 edition