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PIKEVILLE — Now beginning his sixth season at the helm of the Charles B. Aycock High varsity football team, Steve Brooks assured that 2018 would be spent returning to more of a teaching mindset.
By the looks of practice Thursday morning, he wasn’t lying.
Although junior varsity candidates had their moments squaring off against the varsity during the second day of pads in the preseason conditioning period, there were significant periods where Brooks was nowhere to be found with the varsity edition of the Golden Falcons. Instead, he was at the adjoining practice area, giving the junior varsity unit his undivided attention.
“We’re kind of going back to our basics a little bit,” Brooks assured. “I am getting to do a little bit more teaching this year, and our kids are eager to learn. So it’s been fun to be around. We just have so many kids that are inexperienced in what we’re trying to do and then, inexperience in just playing football in general. Where some of the groups we’ve had in the past, they had a little bit more or understood a little bit more what we’re trying to do.”
Coming off a pair of 2-9 seasons, albeit with a quartet of victories that turned into forfeit losses in 2016, Brooks, who is 16-42 in five years in Pikeville, reported that CBA has approximately 40 varsity and 35 junior varsity candidates in the program. Those numbers are satisfactory given the right pieces, he said.
“I don’t think it’s the number of kids that really matter as long as the kids all buy in to what you believe in and they have one common goal, and they want to be here,” Brooks said. “You can have 70 or 80 kids so you can tell everybody you have 70 or 80 kids, but if you’ve got 60 that don’t want to be here, you’re still not in very good shape.”
Youth will be seen along the offensive line and at quarterback, where CBA will be working with junior Alijuan Moore, sophomore Clay Matthews and freshman Kaden Jones. All three are expected to see action behind center. Moore and Matthews can also be used as receivers.
The newness of it all has transported Brooks back to his days at Ayden-Grifton, where he served as offensive coordinator before taking his first head coaching job.
“Jake (Flowers) and Tyler (Daniels), they knew the quarterback position and I just had to fine-tune them,” Brooks said of his previous two CBA passers. “I’m actually getting to go back like I used to as an assistant and teach quarterbacks again, and that’s fun.”
While the offensive line will be brand new in terms of varsity experience, junior Taevian Jackson returns to pace the backfield.
Jackson, at 241 pounds, will also see time at middle linebacker and has drawn the eye of area NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
The Falcons will host one scrimmage and travel to another, hosting Ayden-Grifton and Newton Grove Hobbton at Hardy Talton Stadium on Wednesday. Two nights later, the Falcons travel to the MFCU Football Jamboree at Jacksonville Northside to scrimmage Swansboro and West Carteret.
The season kicks off at Wayne County rival Rosewood on Aug. 17.