Last season marked the end of an era for Midland Trail.
After leading the Patriots to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, former head coach Frank Isaacs decided to step down after the graduation of his youngest son Aden.
Following him out the door was a talented senior class that helped Trail rebound from a rough start and make the playoffs after all hope seemed lost.
Hoping to maintain what’s been established will be new head coach Jeremy Moore who was on staff with Isaacs. His job isn’t an easy one with holes at QB, receiver, linebacker, defensive back and running back but he’s hoping the kids he does have returning were just overshadowed.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces in new places,” Moore said. “River Barnhouse has played quite a bit for us but was kind of in the shadow of (Aden) Isaacs. Cody Harrell was with Ayden Simms last year who had a pretty knockout year so Cody got kind of overshadowed there. On the o-line it’s pretty hit and miss. I’ve got about two freshmen on the line right now but I’ve got three returning starters. My line is patchwork but we got a transfer kid in from Meadow Bridge as well in Jaden Gladwell. We can do some similar things to what we did last year with Josh Dickerson at QB and throw the ball around a little bit. Defensively we’re pretty solid and our core linebackers were in the rotation last year so they’re pretty solid.”
For Moore the transition to head coach hasn’t been a difficult one on the field. In fact he’s found the most challenging part of it has come off of it.
“Just the administrative stuff,” Moore said. “Coaching football is coaching football and it doesn’t really matter if you’re the head coach or assistant. We’ve kind of adopted the mentality of taking care of the kids first and the wins will take care of themselves. It’s been a good blueprint for us but just learning all the different roles and balancing parents and money and all of that has been different. Before I became the head coach I just came and left and didn’t have to handle all of that stuff but it’s been a pretty good transition. I’m still learning and messing up paperwork but the coaching side of it doesn’t change.”
Each coach likes to put his fingerprints on his team but with Moore’s history with the program he doesn’t anticipate changing much. In years past the Patriots have pounded the ball because they’ve been able to but it’s largely dictated by the personnel available to him. With Gladwell’s transfer from Meadow Bridge and Harrell likely to emerge as a go-to target, Moore envisions this year’s team will look much like last year’s.
“I was with Frank the entire time he was here and we’ve always adapted our offense to our personnel,” Moore said. “I don’t think it’s fair to kind of put a square peg in a round hole. Some kids just aren’t good at a certain thing so we had a run there where we had some quarterbacks that could run pretty well but last year was the first year we had a quarterback that could throw it really well but not run so much so we adopted what we did to his skillset. It’s been the same this year too with adapting to our skillsets and seeing what we can and can’t do. We have a base set of plays, just the variations change on those based on your personnel. We’ve been lucky because Jaden has come in and given us a clear cut starter from day one. Last year we didn’t know what Josh could do until the second half of the first game so it took us awhile to find our identity. We’re a little ahead of the curve this year.”
Though the Patriots graduated a talented, experienced bunch, Moore’s job has been made easier by the leaders that have emerged from a group that wasn’t asked to lead as much last year. It’s helped ease a worry he had coming in.
“The amount of leadership these seniors show is nice,” Moore said. “When you lose a class like you did last year, you worry about the next class stepping up and taking over because they’ve never really had to. We just had a vast amount of kids last year and by sheer numbers you’re bound to have some leaders in that group. This year, I was kind of worried about kids stepping in roles they’re not comfortable with and being vocal and accountable but they done a ridiculously good job.”
The one thing Moore is concerned about is health. That concern has plagued the Patriots in their playoff runs dating back to 2018 when QB Austin Isaacs hurt his ankle. Since then key injuries have tripped Trail at inopportune times even to the point they’ve finished the season with skill players on the offensive line. To combat that, Moore has made a few subtle changes.
“That’s kind of been our biggest issue – not being able to keep guys healthy throughout the playoffs,” Moore said. “We’ve tried to get kids healthy and keep them healthy because we’re not normally deep so we’re slowing things down on offense and huddling. I’ve made the joke I teach kids how to huddle because none of them have done it in the last four years they’ve been there. You do all you can but we play a physical style of football and it’s hard to keep kids healthy over a 10, 11, 12 game year.”
Despite the regime change, the goal remains the same in Hico and Moore isn’t shying away from it but he also wants to build a culture of his own that changes the perception of football.
“Playoffs, that’s the standard and all the kids know it,” Moore said. “There’s no sense in playing the game if you’re not going to keep score. We’re trying to accomplish something and we always want to extend our season by one game and go off that. Two, we want to make it an enjoyable experience for kids. Not a lot of them have a passion for football and they just play it because their buddies play it. If I can build on that passion they’ll continue to give back and enjoy it.”
Trail will open its season when it hosts Clay County on Aug. 26.
Email: email@example.com and follow on Twitter @tjack94
|1||08/26/22||7:30PM||H –||CLAY COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL||–|
|3||09/09/22||7:30PM||A –||MEADOW BRIDGE HIGH||–|
|5||09/23/22||7:30PM||H –||SUMMERS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL||–|
|6||09/30/22||7:30PM||A –||NICHOLAS COUNTY||–|
|7||10/07/22||7:00PM||A –||LIBERTY (RALEIGH)||–|
|8||10/14/22||7:30PM||H –||JAMES MONROE||–|
|10||10/28/22||7:30PM||H –||GREENBRIER WEST||–|
|11||11/04/22||7:30PM||A –||POCAHONTAS COUNTY||–||ing|