By the time the Alcovy football team’s freshman-to-be get through with coach Chris Edgar this week, he’ll be expecting the current eighth graders to execute a wardrobe change.
“For these freshmen, I want them to come in here from day one with pride to be an Alcovy Tiger,” Edgar said. “Those incoming freshmen, they’re gonna come in here with Veterans t-shirts and Liberty t-shirts and Indian Creek t-shirts. But at the end of that first day, they’re going to get a nice, yellow t-shirt that says Alcovy football. Because at that point, it’s no longer the three middle schools they come from. It’s all about Alcovy and building for our future.”
As the spring football season comes near for all three schools, Edgar will welcome in what he calls a promising crop of eighth graders who will be rising ninth graders come summer time.
These youngsters will get their first glimpse of what high school football is going to be about, starting Monday through Friday as the incoming freshmen will engage in spring drills two weeks ahead of the returning players.
It’s an opportunity, Edgar says, to help spread even further the message of resurgence that has embodied his first year and a half at the helm of Alcovy football. And starting with the middle school feeder programs represents an added strategy for Edgar’s program.
“One of the main things I wanted to do when taking over the program was make those middle schoolers a priority,” Edgar said. “Coming in, they didn’t really know us at Alcovy. We didn’t do a good job of making them priority in the past. But that’s changing now.”
The change began during the 2016 middle school season, when each week the coach would assign someone from his staff to go and take in a middle school football game.
“This past season they played home games on Wednesdays,” he said. “And I made sure that someone was there for each one of their home games. Whether a position coach, or just someone from our staff, we wanted to make sure they saw our faces and they know we care.”
If the incoming freshmen have been paying any amount of attention, they’ll at least know that Edgar can coach. It’s been well documented that Alcovy High’s four wins in 2016 are three more than what the team was able to muster for the 2014 and 2015 seasons combined.
Edgar said he’s pretty confident that the players and coaches on the middle school level has seen the difference in Alcovy’s program in just one season. The culture is, indeed, shifting, Edgar says. And the reason why he’s putting in extra time building relationships with his three feeder programs — coaches included — is because he wants them to trust in what the Tigers are building for the long run.
“For my freshmen, I want them to come in and see day one that these coaches are gonna care, that we know what we’re talking about and that if they listen to us and trust us, they’ll become fantastic football players,” Edgar said.
Edgar said he sees an opportunity to truly build a solid foundation with the combination of returning upperclassmen talent, underclassmen skill and freshmen potential. In his freshmen focus, he’s not ignoring his ample returning talent — Edgar said his team is returning 90 percent of his skill players for the 2017 season.
But he’s hoping that the fusion of all three elements will be the beginning of something big.
“When you take over a program, you definitely want to try and do right by your seniors,” he said. “But you’ve gotta focus on your younger kids. I believe this current ninth grade class with our sophomores, combined with these freshmen coming in are going to be the tale of what we are and can be as a program. I’m very excited about them.”