Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball career as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites, and for eight years served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by Morningside Books, in Dayton, Ohio.  Widely knowledgable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the country.  Involved with a number of writing projects, he and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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A new year brings a new coach, a new enthusiasm, and a new set of realizations to Troy football.  But don’t be misled…the expectations of the past are all there, alive and well with Scott Brewer and the 2012 Trojans.

From a distance the man standing at the end of the field watching Saturday’s practice was very reminiscent of Steve Nolan…same red shorts, same gray T-shirt, a folded playsheet and a whistle clenched between his teeth.

Some things should never change with Troy football, and Scott Brewer is fine with that…prefers it.  You see, he’s steeped in the tradition now placed in his charge.

He played at Troy…for Nolan.  He’s coached at Troy…for Nolan.  And as the 2012 season unfolds he’s more than comfortable in taking over the program as head coach…from Nolan.  This, in the wake of a quarter century of success and 200-plus wins…by Nolan.

A winning tradition is what Scott Brewer inherits from his predecessor and coaching mentor, and while the newness of the position…the expectations of the position…must be intimidating, Brewer is not intimidated at all.  Familiarity is his ace in assuming control, and he’s more than knowledgeable about some familiar signs responsible for both past and future success.

“So far, so good,”  he said last week, taking a break from July camp to cool down over a beverage and talk about the myriad of expectations and emotions that come with being the head football coach at Troy High School.

“Camp has been a grind.  We’re fighting some nagging injuries.  We’re fighting the issue of size and depth on our offensive and defensive lines.  We’re dealing with the usual bugs.  You want to be healthy and be ready to compete going into 2-a-days.

“So far I’m very pleased with the experience of being the head coach and with what I’ve seen.  The kids have been tremendous.  They’ve bought in to what we’ve asked them to be…a classy representation of Troy High School to the Troy community.  They’ve been involved this summer with a number community projects.  They’re working hard on and off the field.  You watch them and it makes you proud to be their coach.”

After nearly a decade of being the architect of what’s become the program’s formidable defense, Scott Brewer is more than aware of what it takes to be a winner at Troy…what it will take in the wake of Steve Nolan’s fabulous tenure.  And, after eight months on the job the signs of a seamless blending of past and future were there to see in the first week of fall training camp.

“We’ll put some studs on defense and build on that…create turnovers and opportunities,” says Brewer. “Our goal is to make practices tougher than the game on Friday night.”

* A sign:  Aggressive pursuit on defense, building on that which is already established at Troy.  They’re smaller than teams of the past.  The number of available “athletes” perhaps for a time limiting.  But you go with what you know, and how Troy kids can best relate to their new coach is through the still-fresh memory of last year’s swarming defense that almost pulled the upset of state power Middletown and that physically dominated Piqua in the county rivalary, a convincing win over the Indians, their fifth in as many years.

“The defense is ahead of the offense,” admitted Brewer, taking a long sip on an iced-down Sprite on Wednesday.  “But, we’re putting the ‘studs’ over there.  We’re thinner than we want to be and some guys are going to have to play both ways…on both sides of the ball.  Depth-wise, we’re a Division II program, realistically.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t play hard, and we will.  We’re going to find 11 guys who want to play hard.  We’re going to find those kids who want to be disciplined.  We’re going to find those kids who can find a way to win.  We’ve got about 75 out this year, including 30 freshman, but what’s that they say…give me 30 that can play?

“Fundamentally, Steve would have taken the three biggest kids we have and put them on the offensive line.  I’m taking those three and making their primary focus on the other side of the line.  Our focus has to be on defense.  It might be a challenge to move the ball for a while on offense, but we can control the game with what we do on defense and with our special teams.”

A sign:  Traditional Troy football mandates a strong running game.  Once upon a time another Brewer ran wild out of the Trojan backfield on his way to being named Ohio’s Mr. Football.  There’ll be no forsaking that tradition under Brewer, who smiles over the prospect of having a “stable” of fullbacks that look and play like linebackers.  “Guards in a 2-point stance,”  he calls them.

“We’ll have some new looks on offense,” he admits.  We’re going to do a lot of things out of the ‘I’ formation, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to leave the Wing-T altogether.  A lot of what we’ll do will still have a Wing-T flavor.

“We’ll have some experience and speed at running back.  We’ll pound the ball on the ground when we can.  Fred Whitson and Miles Hibler are back.  And we’ll have some new faces that can help us.  We’ve changed some things, and the verbage of what we do is different, so the kids have had to learn a lot in a short amount of time.  We actually installed our whole offense during the ten days of camp we had in July and the kids really did well with it.  Now, we have to start all over in 2-a-days, making things instinctive.  We’re not going to have a big book of passing plays, but we won’t be afraid of taking some shots down the field, either.  Matt Barr (6’3″, 190 lb. senior) is getting a lot of time at quarterback, but there’s competition for the position.”

“We’ll pound the ball on the ground when we can. Our passing book isn’t very thick, but that won’t keep up from taking some shots down the field, either,”  says Scott Brewer.  Senior Matt Barr (above) is the heir apparent at quarterback.

A sign:  With 30 freshmen in uniform, nearly 40% of the roster, you do the math.  The 2012 Trojans are young.  That said, Brewer concedes nothing and sees a bright lining to the uncertainty of depth and inexperience at key positions.  Inexperience notwithstanding, he expects to compete.

“We’re accustomed to being at the top of the GWOC on total defense, and I mean the entire GWOC,”  he boasts.  “And that’s where we’ll draw from as we start the season.  Our defense will reflect the personality and the attitude of the coach.  I’ll guarantee you this…we will play with energy.

“We will create turnovers and offensive opportunities through those turnovers and a short field.  We will improve week by week.  We know we’re going to be challenged right out of the gate by Chaminade and Springfield Shawnee, and they’re Division III and Division IV.  CJ’s got athletes and one of the best prospects in the valley (Darien Howard).  Shawnee is the state runner-up and has a running back that’s 6’3″ and 230 pounds.  We don’t have a guy on our roster that’s 6’3″ and 230 pounds,”  he chuckles.

“The goal is to make our practices tougher than the game on Friday night.  Like I said, we’re going to find 11 guys who want to play hard and compete.  You can’t predict wins and losses.  It’s football…it’s a game.  You go out there and play your heart out, do your best, and rely on that.  I think our experience here over the past 25 years is that you’ll win more games than not if you do that.  People will be proud of how hard we play.”

A sign:  Steve Nolan never won those 200 games in a season.  And Scott Brewer has no illusions about making people forget Nolan in one season.  He respects the tradition, yes.  But his eye is on the present and the future of Troy football.

“We want to create a program in Troy that has an influence from the 2nd grade all the way through the 12th grade,”  he says.  “You know, we had ten clinics over the winter and all the junior high and little league coaches were there…all of them, never missed a one.  Everyone was on the same page.

“It’s a different day for football in the respect that there’s more for kids to do than there used to be, and a lot of them don’t want to work as hard as you need to work to be successful and enjoy the game of football.

“But Troy has the best little league program around.  You won’t find a better one for the fact of participation and coaching.  We’re going to build on that as our advantage going forward.  I want to make Friday nights at Memorial Stadium an event.  We want everyone involved…the band, the students, the adults.  We want it to be memorable…our ultimate home field advantage.”

By the end of the first week of fall practice on Saturday nothing had changed. Scott Brewer smiled and conceded that the Trojans are still lacking depth on the interior lines and experience at other key positions.

“But, we’re all here,”  he smiled.  “We’ve just started to hit and we have some guys that are sore.  But they’ll be more sore in a few days.  We’ll look at some film over the weekend to see where we are.”

He’ll see it with pride in what it represents.  Scott Brewer is the new coach…the past, present and future of Troy football.

They’ll always compete.

They will build for the future.

People will be proud of how hard they play.

The signs of a winner…past, present, and future!

*  Press Pros streaming audio will be the broadcast voice of every Troy football game in 2012, as sponsored by the Unity National Bank.  The games can be heard on PPM streaming audio, or audio archive, and those who carry radio headsets to the game can listen while they watch on FM signal 107.3

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