New Chief set for work
PORT NECHES — Saturday afternoon officially kicks off the beginning of Port Neches-Groves spring football practice at 1 p.m., inaugurating a Brandon Faircloth era on The Reservation.
Planning to bring in a total of six new varsity assistants and receiving a most generous financial support from the Port Neches-Groves ISD, the 31-year-old Brownwood native can brag today that he would have the privilege to work around Saturday’s first pick in the NFL Draft.
Faircloth did not directly coach former Highland Park quarterback Matthew Stafford but he worked with him as running backs coach. The son of Brownwood principal Bill Faircloth instructed three straight Odessa Permian record-setting quarterbacks in succession — Tate Smith in 2006, Taylor Byrd in 2007 and Trevor Adams in 2008.
Those reasons, and plenty others, have created a new atmosphere of excitement within a program that has ranked with Permian, Highland Park and Austin Westlake as one of the state’s more prestigious high school football schools. Brandon already has had the chance to coach a little at each of those four places.
Faircloth’s timing also arrives with the complete renovation of the playing surface and home grandstands. It also coincides with the liftoff of a new booster club which meets for the first time this Monday night.
The new Indians’ chief sat down Thursday morning for a question and answer session in between his many meetings and up-to-his-neck schedule:
Q: How familiar are you with all these up-and-coming 2009 PN-G football players at this early point?
A: We spent the first six weeks in off-season putting the kids through some outside stations and some weight-room stations. We’re becoming very comfortable with them and how they move around. We’re moving into our outside phase of off-season with offense and defense and starting to get to know them as football players.
I’ve had some real surprises and I’m real excited about the guys we have. We can’t wait to get the pads on May 2…. I believe I know the name of every young man… but definitely their position coach does, so if I have an old-man moment, I’ll just make sure the position coach helps me out.
Q: What’s your biggest adjustment so far after all of your successful years as an assistant coach?
A: Besides the humidity…. probably the biggest adjustment is being in charge of the whole athletic program. Dealing with baseball, tennis, and golf and those kind of sports, I’ve really enjoyed working with those coaches. We have great ones here and I’ve learned something from them already. And I have enjoyed working with them and learning things from them so far,
Q: What are your primary spring football objectives?
A: The first objective is for the players to learn our schemes, and make sure that we are solid on our job — that our kids know their job on every play. Make sure that we have answered all of their questions. Make sure that we put them in plenty of opportunities to succeed or mess up. And then, with film, correct all those mistakes. Make sure that when we leave spring training, there are no questions going into the fall as far as their duties and their jobs.
The second objective would be to find out who our players are. Everybody here has a fresh start with a new head coach. They may be playing a different position. They may be playing just on offense, or just on defense, but we need to make sure they are playing in the right position. And if not, have enough time to make the move on that change.
We talk about personnel every day so we’re going to continue to talk about personnel and make sure when we get to fall, that we will know exactly who our best 22 players are.
Q: Let’s address your new varsity staff members and how many remain available?
A: We have retained Kyle Segura (running backs), Mike Arnaud (defensive line) and Jake LeFort (defensive backs) from coach (Matt) Burnett’s staff and the coaches that are here now are Joe Dale Cary from Aledo, our assistant head coach and offensive line coach; Jared Wingfield from Austin Westlake, our offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach; Duane Kroeker from Keller, our defensive coordinator; and Zane Guy from Brownwood, our special teams and defensive backs coach.
We intend to bring in two more varsity assistants but they will not be able to join us during spring practice or in this school year. I think we’ve got our guys. They have not been approved by the school board yet. (PN-G principal Marc) Mr. Keith is still working on references and things like that, but I’m hoping to be done on all of that by this week.
Q: Talk some about your offense and what type of run-pass balance do you intend to have?
A: Fifty-fifty. We want to throw it 30 times and run it 30 times. I will be calling the plays probably for the whole season.
We will be doing exactly the same things on offense that we’ve done at Odessa Permian. That’s what we’ve taught our new coaches. We always take input. We’ve hired guys from really great programs. They already have brought in some good new ideas and I definitely don’t mind changing if it makes us better. I’m not stuck in my ways. I expect them to bring in good ideas. That’s why I hired them.
I got to be exposed to the commitment and work ethic of Matthew Stafford, before the three straight quarterbacks at Permian. So I’ve been around four straight pretty good quarterbacks since 2005. They have each raised the bar and that is the bar we will hold all the PN-G quarterbacks accountable for. I have no reason to believe they won’t be as successful as everyone else in the past.
Q: What sort of an asset should the new booster club provide?
A: The areas where they make a big difference will largely be up to them. Their purpose is to support and enhance Port Neches-Groves athletics. They meet Monday night (Apr. 27) in the school cafeteria at 7:30.
The booster club can help us in areas of equipment to meeting the needs that the budget can’t meet. Every sport is different. But in this day and time, it’s hard for the budget to meet the needs of every sport. And the booster club is here to meet some of those needs.
It may mean that we don’t have needs at the beginning. It may mean we have a lot. It just depends. Every year is different.
Q: What stands out most about your background and influences?
A: My dad has been the biggest influence in my life by far. I’m exactly like him as far as attitude and how I deal with students. I’ve learned a lot from him about the education business and it’s great to be able to call someone like him if I have any questions. He will always answer the phone when his son calls.
My parents are very supportive and they still are. They will be at some PN-G games even though Brownwood is a long ways away. There’s no doubt I wouldn’t be any where without my mom and dad.
Ron Schroeder at Westlake, Randy Allen at Highland Park and Darren Allman at Permian, who is now at Westlake, all have been great influences. I’ve probably been THE most blessed guy around to be with three great high school football coaches. They all have had not just great teams, but great programs and that’s what I intend to bring here at Port Neches-Groves.