Brian Alred’s first season as football coach at Glencoe High School, his alma mater, proved challenging. The Yellow Jackets lost their first nine games — five of them by shutouts — before breaking through with a 40-6 triumph over West End in their season finale.

The key to reversing that, according to Alred, could be as much mental as physical.

“We need to work on team chemistry and being able to handle adversity,” he said. “Last year, we’d be in a 7-7 or 14-7 game, then in three or four minutes it would be 28-7.

“Physically, we played hard and I know we will this year as well,” Alred said. “We’ve just got to fight through those little battles. We’re doing a little of everything — doing a program to try to build mental toughness — to help the kids not quit when things get tough.”

 

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Glencoe has 42 players on its squad but only returns five seniors and three offensive and three defensive starters.

“We’re going to be relying heavily on (our seniors),” Alred said. “We’ve challenged them, told them that it’s their team. They’ve done a good job so far. We had a good spring and guys have stepped up and are trying to do right and challenge the younger players.”

Lineman Connor Gray, one of the seniors, said, “We want to be an example for younger players, push them to be the best of their ability and to work. In certain ways, players will listen to a teammate more than they will a coach.”

Offensively, Glencoe will run a spread-based Wing-T.

“We’re going to try to be fleet of foot,” Alred said. “We want to create some space and some lanes we can run through. The key will be our offensive line. We’ve got to establish a line surge, create holes, be physical, do our job. Our line is farther ahead than last year. We’re not really big, but that’s not a concern if we can be physical and the kids know their assignment.”

Alred said the Jackets “have a chance to be good” defensively after the unit was ahead of the offense in spring practice.

 

Key Players

Aside from Gray, Glencoe’s seniors are receiver-defensive back Daniel Maye, lineman Will Harrison and tight end-defensive end Trevor Blevins.

Junior Sam Hines entered fall practice as the No. 1 quarterback and “throws well,” according to Alred. Two freshmen, Garrett Gaskin and Thomas Skaggs, also could see action.

Gaskin and juniors Eli Huff and Tristan Cox will anchor the backfield and sophomore Drew Glanze and freshman Connor Brown will fill out the offensive line.

The returning defensive starters are Maye and defensive ends Kade Crowder and Levi Long.

 

Keys to a Successful Season

Being in Class 3A, Region 6 will be the biggest obstacle for the Jackets. Last year’s top three finishers — Piedmont, Randolph County and Saks — posted 34 victories between them and, respectively, reached the championship game, semifinals and quarterfinals of the playoffs.

“There’s no doubt that this is the toughest region in the state in Class 3A football,” Alred said. “Weaver (No. 4 finisher last year) is athletic, Walter Wellborn didn’t lose a starter and Pleasant Valley has its best team in a while and is one of the most physical teams in the region.

“We feel we can make it if some things go our way,” he said. “Will it be tough? Absolutely, but if you can be 1 through 4 in this region, you’re going to go at least a couple of rounds in the playoffs.”

Either way, Alred believes the community will be behind his squad.

“They love football and support the kids and coaching staff,” he said. “We’ve struggled a bit, but we’re going to be better this year.”

Maye added, “We want to get Glencoe back to where it needs to be, where it was a few years ago. (The Jackets were in the state semifinals as recently as 2014).

“Last year was frustrating,” he said. “We’re ready for something good to happen, and we can build on that.”