Clements High School’s first-year football coach has a simple strategy for reversing the fortunes of a program that went from four straight playoff appearances to 1-9 records in each of the past four seasons.
“We’re trying to build, trying to have some consistency. We want to always try to win in the present but have a plan for the future,” said Cody McCain, who came to Class 3A Clements in April after two years at 1A Pleasant Home in Andalusia and one year at 3A Excel.
The 28-year-old is the youngest head football coach in Limestone County, emerging from a pool of 107 applicants to become the Colts’ third coach in three years in early April. Despite being only a decade older than some of his players, the physical education teacher already has earned his master’s degree and is the married father of two sons and a daughter.
McCain said about 51 players in grades 7-12 came out for spring drills, including 36 at the varsity level. He said practices were squeezed into “eight or nine days” after the April 28 tornado inflicted heavy damage to the Coxey and Clements communities, including ripping off the Clements' field house roof.
“When we finally got to do our spring practice after the storms, most schools were wrapping up practice,” said McCain.
He said the Colts’ roster has more team speed than his players at Pleasant Home, which means he is adapting his offense. He said the defense must be built to stop the run.
“It’ll be a little bit different because, athlete-wise, we have more speed at Clements, while we had big kids at Pleasant Home. I’ll always be a run-first coach but we’ll be more spread out, a little faster and have more of a zone-read option scheme,” McCain said. “At Pleasant Home, we used more of a smash-mouth style. At Clements, we’re going to have to be different because a lot of teams in our region will be bigger so we’ll need to be faster.
“My theory defensively is to study your opponents and build a defensive system off of that. The schedule we play, there are a lot of Wing-T, run-heavy offenses. We’ll present an eight-man defensive front, attack and try to take them out of their comfort zone.”
Among the biggest position battles is at quarterback, with three leading contenders on the depth chart.
“We’ve got three kids working a lot at quarterback. You want to find a kid in each class to work in at quarterback so you’ll always have someone ready by the time he’s a senior. Our number one right now is Onterrio Patrick, who will be a junior. We also have Christian Wilson, a senior, and Ryland Kirk, a freshman,” he said.