Photos by Barry Clemmons.
0812 Harman GurayaOak Mountain’s Harman Guraya, #73, will add strength to the Eagles at center.
The Oak Mountain Eagles are returning 12 members from last year’s squad: six on offense and six on defense. Coach Cris Bell has some players he’s excited about: quarterback Jake Adams and defensive end Lloyd Time, who may see some action at outside linebacker. “He’s a good kid, with a good motor,” said Bell.
Other players to keep an eye on are Scott Hester, Billy Dasher, Brandon Gaines and John Michael Miller. Center Harman Guraya is not big but has a heart as big as a whale.
Conditioning is a huge factor according to Bell. “They’ve embraced what we’re trying to do and they want to win, but we’ve got to be in better condition.”
Goals for the summer remain getting the team stronger and in better condition, and changing their mindset so they play with a sense of urgency.
“We’ve got to learn to be good when we’re tired. We want to start fast, but we have to finish strong.”
The biggest gaps for the Eagles are the receiving corps and the defensive secondary. They have some young, untested players that will have to step up. They have played well on defense in the past, and the team needs for them to continue playing well on that side of the ball, according to Bell.
With a change in regional schedule, Oak Mountain won’t be playing arch rival Hoover this year, but they pick up Prattville, a powerhouse in recent years. They also play Spain Park, Chelsea, Thompson, Pelham, Wetumpka and Stanhope Elmore.
Despite the challenges, Bell is looking forward to what lies ahead. “I’m excited about the upcoming season; it will be fun.”
Bell is a veteran in coaching football with over 23 years experience, but he has his work cut out for him as head coach at Oak Mountain. The Eagles have struggled since 2007, and the team has only won four games total in the last two years.
One of the biggest challenges according to Bell is changing the mindset. The kids have to believe they can compete and win.
The team made some progress in the spring, but they didn’t get to where they need to be.
“Spring training was two steps forward and one step back, but we threw a lot at these kids,” said Bell. Still, they are making progress. “You have to convince the kids that they can compete and that there’s value in competing.”
Bell’s coaching staff is focusing on the idea that the team should maximize their potential every time they go out on the field, regardless of whether it’s a summer workout, a practice or a Friday night ball game.
Bell believes he has to teach the kids how to play hard for four quarters. “We’re going to play one play at a time in 10 second blowouts.” The idea is to give phenomenal effort, 10 seconds at a time.