By Matt Hill
Three years ago, Matt Bray was given the task of building the JCHS track program into a successful entity and now the Longhorns are gaining respect.
Now, Bray is being put in charge of the JCMS Football program in hopes of making the entire program in Johnson County better.
Bray, a teacher at JCMS, is moving from an assistant at for the high school football program over to the middle school, though he still plans to help the high school program on Friday nights.
Im excited and Im coming into this with realistic expectations, Bray said. Its going to take time to build the program back up and I want to be positive and have fun with the kids because thats whats football is about is enjoying and hopefully we can teach some fundamentals and get some basic stuff down pat so that when they go to high school they can be prepared.
I want to win, but at this level they do need to learn. I want people to realize great programs dont happen overnight. We may have some difficulties we have to face. It will be a new experience for me with the younger kids, even though I teach them at the middle school. Some of them may have never played football before and I want to get them excited and teach them so they can succeed at the high school. I dont think this will be walk in and win. If we do that will be great. I want to start playing the bigger feeder schools from the middle schools. Youre only as good as your competition.
One thing that will be addressed is trying to get the seventh grade kids to come out for middle school football instead of playing their last year of eligibility in the Pee-Wees.
Bray says there are a lot of benefits to playing middle school football in seventh grade.
I dont want to take anything away from our youth league program, but even if a child is not playing as much if their playing larger, stronger, better competition theyll get better, Bray said. I see nothing wrong if a kid is too small to play middle school playing down, but we need to look whats best for the kid. If the kid is able to play, they need too. They need to be part of our program because our program is going to be one with the high school. All kids goal is to be good in high school and the sooner they start with us and the kids who did play in seventh grade are going to have an advantage over kids who dont. Theyre going to have an advantage. Theyve been there and they know everything and will be run the same all the way through.
Bray coming to the middle school is actually a coaches swap and Steve and Phil Nave, former middle school coaches, are going to coach the JCHS junior varsity.
Some people feel this may be a demotion for Bray, but he doesnt see it that way.
The high school and middle school are going to be one program in a sense, he said. On Friday nights, I will be on the sideline coaching like I did last year. I see this as another job in the program and another way to help the program. Teaching at the middle school will help me recognize talent when I see it, to recruit and to build character and a good work ethic with the kids. Its not a demotion, its an opportunity. Its an opportunity to help the overall program.
Bray knows its a challenge, but one hes prepared to meet.
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