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March 6, 2013

Making his point: Brewer aims to excite Indians about football again

Murray County High School athletic director Greg Linder harped on the passion and excitement of newly hired football coach Chad Brewer when talking about the reasons why the former Northwest Whitfield defensive coordinator was selected to take over the struggling program.

Brewer met with his new players for the first time on Tuesday, and some members of the team said they felt that level of positive energy as well.

“It was amazing,” said linebacker Kevin Chavez, who will be a senior next season. “I loved his enthusiasm. He has a real passion for coaching and you can just feel it. He is something that we really need. As soon as he stepped in, he gave us that assurance that this is going to be a good future for us.”

The meeting with the players was part of a full day for Brewer, who spent the day at the high school and at Gladden Middle, its feeder school. Brewer’s hiring as a teacher was approved by the school board on Monday night after a coaching search that included more than 70 applicants.

Murray County was 0-10 last fall in the final season of John Hammond’s two-year reign as head coach. The Indians had just two victories — both forfeits — during those two years, and the program is 7-63 over the past seven seasons. For next year’s seniors, Brewer will be the school’s third football coach since they were freshmen. Their last win on the field came during John Ziegler’s final season as head coach in 2010, when the team went 2-8.

“I have an immeasurable amount of respect for these seniors, who have really stuck with it,” Brewer said. “They are still there and still toughing it out. They have been through so much and have persevered and are still going.”

Brewer’s focus is more on what’s ahead, though.

“The good thing is we can do now what RGIII does on the new commercial,” Brewer said, referring to NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III. “It shows a scoreboard and the scoreboard blows up, and the gist of it is that it is time to get back to work. All of that past don’t matter. It is time to move on. The sooner that is forgotten, the better it will be. Let’s look forward now and move forward.”

This is Brewer’s first head coaching position after serving as defensive coordinator last season at Northwest; he held the same position in 2011 at Southeast Whitfield, where he was an assistant for several seasons. He is also currently the boys track and field coach at Northwest and coached both boys and girls track and field during his time at Southeast.

A native of Polk County (Tenn.), Brewer said Chatsworth reminds him a lot of his hometown.

“I think everywhere I have been in my life has been for a reason,” Brewer said. “I played at Polk county, and it is like Chatsworth, where on Friday night everyone goes to the ballgame. We need to get back to that where that stadium is a sea of green and white. And I know that it will get back to that. It will be that way again. Sure, there is another school in the county, but that support is still there and we just have to tap back into it.”

Murray County’s football doldrums began when the school’s enrollment forced them up to what was then the state’s highest classification, 5A, and the Indians went 0-10 in 2006 in the final season under coach Bill Napier. That was followed by two seasons under Josh Lowe as the team went 1-19. Ziegler followed and was 4-16 in two seasons.

Murray County hasn’t had a winning season since 2005, when the Indians were 7-4 and made their most recent appearance in the state playoffs; the team hasn’t won a playoff game since 2001. The school’s best year on the football field came in 1984, when the Indians were 12-2 and advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals under second-year coach Tony Plavich — who was also hired away from Whitfield County Schools.

While Brewer knows he’s facing a rebuilding process, he is looking forward to taking the steps to do just that.

“There is a great amount of pride in this community and in this school,” he said. “I don’t feel any pressure to win immediately, and I don’t want the kids to feel that way either. We are going to get in the weight room, and then go to spring and then go through summer workouts and then worry about (the season opener with) Coahulla Creek.”

Noseguard and offensive tackle Clay Thornbury, who will be a senior, said Brewer will be a “good piece to the puzzle.”

“He seems very nice, and he was very energetic, and he was very enthusiastic about what he is doing,” Thornbury said. “He talked a lot about the people who had played and stuck with it and gave us a lot of respect and respect for the school. It surprised some people. I guess we don’t have a really good atmosphere with pride in the school right now.”

The players, though, know there will be no miracle fix.

“It has been tough, without a doubt,” Chavez said of the past three seasons. “It shows your character and shows your colors to stay committed to a program that has been up and down. Our main focus for our class is we would love nothing more than to change the program around.

“I have a great feeling,” he said. “He is just so passionate. He is a great man, you can just tell. He is excited to be the new Murray County High School football coach, and it really rubbed off on us today.”

Brewer said he and Linder haven’t talked about specifics with the coaching staff and said he would meet with the coaches on staff now. While he said he had some coaches he wanted to bring in with him, he wasn’t sure if there would be positions in Murray County Schools for any specific number.

“We haven’t had a chance to discuss very many specifics,” Brewer said. “I have some people that I would like to bring in, but I know that we have to have spots for teachers to be able to come in.”

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