MOUNT CARMEL, Ill. – The last time the grandest football program in southern Illinois changed its’ head coach, in 2001, Michael Brewer was a junior at Mount Carmel High School.
Sixteen years later, it is now Brewer who is in charge at his alma mater, succeeding Darren Peach, who resigned last year after the winningest tenure in school history.
Monday was Day One of the Brewer Era, and nothing looked out of the ordinary, save for one nod to the modern athlete, a speaker sitting on the sideline gently pumping out beats in the background during practice. Brewer, who takes the reigns after six years as an assistant, has made other changes as well.
“We’ve done things here and there a little bit different, but outside of that we don’t want to mess up a good thing,” said Brewer after the first official day, which consisted of two workouts, wrapping up at dusk on the practice field next to Riverview Stadium, where the Aces debut on August 25th against Harrisburg.
“We’re not changing a whole lot. We’ve won a lot of games in the past.”
The Aces won a lot last year, finishing 10-1 after their first undefeated regular season since 2007. The Big Eight Conference championship was their third title, outright or shared, in the last four years.
“For the most part, we will look the same, offensively and defensively,” Brewer said. “There are some minor things we’ll try to adjust the kids to. Other than that, we’ll try to do stuff like block and tackle, and catch, do the basic things as well as we can.”
The numbers are up, with Brewer checking in around 65 freshman through seniors for pre-season workouts. “It’s good to finally have everyone out here,” he said. “In the summer, you have those days the IHSA gives you (for practice), but kids have a lot of commitments and get pulled in a lot of different directions. So, it’s good to have everybody out here. “
The increased number of players could allow the staff to organize the practice regimen differently.
“We’ll be able to split an offense and defense for practice, to get more reps for the kids so they’re not standing around,” said Brewer, who was an assistant for ex-Aces coach John Hart at Indiana’s Warren Central for two years, helping the Warriors win a Hoosier state championship in 2009.
“We’ve got the coaches for that, and we’ve got the kids for that, so we’re set up to do it that way. So far so good.”
One of the coaches Brewer welcomes is former Aces great Kyle Buss. He too has an Indiana coaching past on his resume, a part of Nick Hart’s staff at southern Indiana power Gibson Southern.
“Kyle is going to be our defensive coordinator this year, so that will change some language to stuff that he’s used to,” said Brewer, adding that on offense, “there will be a little bit of a different play call.”
As for the music, “If you go to any college practice, it’s on,” he said. “It helps everybody’s energy, and keeps kids moving around,” Brewer said.
ACES ASIDES… Junior Austin Rager has been taking most of the snaps at QB… Senior lineman Bryson Phelps may get the green light to return to practice Tuesday, after suffering a slight knee sprain… Brewer is 17th head coach in MCHS history, though two (Howard Beard and Hurley Gould) coached two different stints… New head coaches are 14-5 in openers (last loss in 1983, Larry Lockhart lost opener vs. Mascoutah).