Athens head football coach Cody Gross has long given credit to his assistant coaches for the amount of success the team has enjoyed the past few seasons.
One of those assistant coaches is proving that to be true by winning a statewide award.
Golden Eagles offensive coordinator Drew Phillips has been selected as the Class 6A Assistant Coach of the Year by the Alabama Football Coaches Association.
Phillips and the other winners, one from each classification, were nominated by their peers, recommended by a committee and certified by a vote by the ALFCA Board of Directors.
“He's just one of many great coaches that I have,” Gross said of Phillips. “The thing I learned a long time ago is to be successsful, you better surround yourself with good people. We've been fortunate to be able to do that here.”
Phillips was nominated by Decatur head coach Jere Adcock, which he said made his nomination even more special.
“Coach Adcock is a guy I've admired, from when I was in high school playing,” Phillips said. “I really have a lot of respect for him as a coach now. For him to nominate me means a whole lot.”
Legendary area coach Bob Godsey, who currently coaches at Madison Academy after stints at Brooks and Hartselle, is the one who broke the news to Phillips
“Coach Godsey was my high school coach at Brooks,” Phillips said. “To have him call and tell me about the award was really special. Both of those guys (Adcock and Gossey) are guys I've looked up to. It means a whole lot for them to be involved in me getting this award.”
Phillips is in his seventh year at Athens High. He spent his first five years as wide receivers coach, and when former offensive coordinator Shane Smothers left to go to Muscle Shoals, Gross promoted Phillips to that position.
The Athens offense took flight this season. The Golden Eagles averaged more than 30 points per game this season with an attack that featured big seasons from quarterback Jordan Scott and running back Jaylen Gilbert.
As good schematically as Phillips is, Gross said his intangibles are his biggest asset.
“He loves his job and he loves the kids,” Gross said. “He's just an extension of me. Whatever I want done, he takes it and runs with it. He's extremely loyal and very intelligent. He's one of those guys you'd have to see him in action to understand what all goes on, but I think it's his love for the kids thats the biggest thing.”
Phillips said he wouldn't be as successful as he has been without the help of the other Athens assistant coaches and players.
“I'm very humbled to receive this,” Phillips said. “And really it's a collective deal. We've got great assistant coaches and a great staff and great players. I just happen to be the one fortunate enough to be recognized.”
In addition to his work as Athens' offensive coordinator, Phillips runs the middle school weight program for all sports.
“He does a great job there setting the tone for those guys and girls as they move on to the high school level,” Gross said. “He's going to be a great head football coach one day.”