Whittell High School’s new football coach Phil Bryant knows how to win.
Bryant held the head coaching job at Westwood High School for 25 years and, for the four years the team played in an eight-man league, he garnered a record of 38-5 with four league championships. Most recently, he led Whittell’s 2013-14 boys basketball team to a state championship in his second year as head coach.
Bryant is taking over the coaching job after the Warriors’ less than stellar season last year.
“Whittell football has been down for the last several years and the administration felt there needed to be a change in philosophy from the previous years,” Bryant said. “I was not interested in coaching football at the time the previous coach was released but after talking to several players, I decided it would be a good way to spend my time in the fall.”
Whittell moved to an eight-man league for the 2013 season and ended with a 1-7 record.
“I interviewed several players from last years team and most of the coaches as well. It was easy to see what they felt the issues were with the program, so immediate changes were made,” Bryant said.
After meeting with the coaches from last season, Bryant has implemented a mandatory weight-training program to improve strength. For the past few years, players have been kept on the roster to increase numbers and fill roster spots, but the new idea is to improve quality as opposed to quantity.
The team has already seen improvements. When the weight-training program went into effect, only two players were able to bench press their own weight and now, 14 can press their own weight or exceed it.
Bryant also noticed a lack of understanding of basic game fundamentals from the players.
“I got the coaches together and we discussed philosophies, techniques, schemes, etc. Each coach has an assignment in the program and the success or failure of that area is that coaches responsibility and ours together as a staff,” Bryant said.
With the help of last year’s coaches Doug Patton and Adam Fountain, Bryant will be doing a lot of repositioning of players and will be relying on returners Logan Manchester, Sean Noyes, Jake Sharp, Quinn Kixmiller and Colin Buchholz to lead the team.
“This will not be an easy turn around. It typically takes three to four years to get a football program re-established from down years. We may take a little backward step this next year just to get the players up to speed in fundamental football,” Bryant said. “If we hope to reverse some of the scores from last year it will be an uphill battle. Coleville is always tough with Will Sandy coaching and so are all the other schools that handled Whittell easily last year.”
Bryant has also coached at Chula Vista High School, Marian High School, Santana High School and Southwestern College. As a player he was a quarterback and defensive back in high school and defensive back in college.
“Hopefully I can get some changes in place and turn the program over to one of the young bucks in the next two years,” Bryant said.