PREP FOOTBALL: Bearcats gearing up for new year with new coach

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The Bearcats will open the 2019 season on the road against Jasper Thursday, Aug. 22nd. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – With more than a dozen seniors missing from last year’s roster, several of whom were impact players on both sides of the ball, one of the biggest challenges for new Bearcat Coach Oscar Glasscock and his staff going into the year is creating depth. Glasscock is looking for leaders to step up this fall whether they are seniors or not.

“One thing is we have a really small senior class and you know there’s a coaching axiom ‘You’re only as good as your senior class’ so we’re going to have get a lot of mileage out of them and some of those guys are going to play on both sides of the ball. We’ve got a big junior class and some of those guys are going to have to step into leadership roles to make up for the lack of numbers in the senior class,” Glasscock said. “You know, I’m their fourth head coach and I went through the same scenario when I was in high school. I played for four different head coaches when I went through here and I think we had seven seniors, so this isn’t necessarily unfamiliar territory, but it does bring a different set of challenges. You’ve got to find leadership from some guys that are younger, and we’ve got to make it happen.”

Cullman’s numbers are a little lower this season than they have been in the past and that forces the coaching staff to see more guys playing more positions before the season begins.

“We’re hovering around about 55 kids 10-12 but to build depth everybody has an offensive and defensive position,” Glasscock said. “We’re not going to have anyone that starts both ways but we’re going to be rotating receivers in and stuff like that. We may have defensive linemen working in that are starting on the other side of the ball, so we’ve been working hard on not being too complicated. If you’re starting a guy on defense, we’re not going to ask him to know the whole offense, but he’ll know a package of plays in case injuries or anything else happens.”

Schematically, Coach Glasscock plans to change things up a little to adjust to the personnel Cullman will have on the field. The Bearcats have focused on moving the ball through the air in the past but this year they want to try and control the ball and the clock to better manage each game.

“The biggest change for us is putting a big emphasis on running the football and being a physical, downhill type of team. I think what people have seen in the last several years is a lot of pass-first and we’re going to be run-first because we’re going to control the clock, control the ball and try to keep the opposing offense off the field. We’re going to try and make people snap the football on defense,” Glasscock said. “We’re not going to be taking a bunch of chances at midfield with zero coverage because we want people to have to snap it a bunch of times to score. On the flip side of it, we want to snap it 12-15 times on offense and that’s going to give us a chance going into the fourth quarter against some of these teams that are really talented that we’re going to play. That’s what I believe in and I think the kids have really embraced the changes we’ve made.”

One of those personnel is running back Jayden Sullins. Sullins is returning as the feature back in the Cullman backfield after earning an honorable mention on last year’s Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA) 6A All-State Team. The senior recently committed to play at the next level for the United States Naval Academy and Glasscock credits Jayden’s success to his work ethic and leadership.

“Jayden’s here every time the door is open. He strives to get better and Jayden’s really focused on the team first and that’s what I’m really proud of. He doesn’t let the individual attention that he’s getting distract from his role as a team leader. He’s a leader and if other guys aren’t here, he’ll call them, and he wants the most for his senior year with this team first,” Glasscock said. “I’m really happy about the opportunities he’s going to get at the next level but the thing I’m most excited about it is seeing him run the football. He’s going to be our feature player on offense whether we’re throwing it to him or handing it to him or whatever, he’s going to get the ball.”

Cullman High School collected this year’s 6A AHSAA Sportsmanship Award in July and Glasscock credits the culture around campus that was being established even before he arrived.

“I give a lot of credit to Mark Stephens, the Athletic Director and Mrs. (Kim) Hall, our principal, and Coach (Matt) Plunkett who was here last year. There’s been a big emphasis on sportsmanship, playing with class and I think it’s a huge deal to win that sportsmanship award at all-star week,” Glasscock said. “I don’t think that can be highlighted enough and you know football is a sport that has a fine line between being aggressive and physical and getting after people and then crossing the line and getting into unsportsmanlike behavior.”

Glasscock continued, saying that his team still has a little growing to do before they strap it up in Jasper for their first game but he’s proud of the way they’ve worked this offseason and knows they’ll play with class once the lights come on.

“Some guys need to mature and understand how you play this game and it’s the greatest game there is, but you have to understand how to play within the rules. We’re going to promote sportsmanship, playing with class and we have a goal for zero ejections but it’s always a work in progress. I’m proud of our school and proud of the steps we’ve taken,” Glasscock said. “Since arriving here, I’ve been extremely impressed with the focus on character development, sportsmanship and playing with class in all sports and I think it’s a top-down approach that goes from the superintendent to the athletic director. Now we’re going to play physical and be aggressive and get after people but it’s going to be within the rules of the game.”

The Glasscock era at Cullman will begin Thursday, Aug. 22nd when the Bearcats travel to Jasper for another matchup with the Vikings. Cullman won last year’s game in Oliver Woodard Stadium in dramatic fashion so Jasper will be looking for some revenge when the Bearcats arrive to kick off the 2019 season.

Cullman (Class 6A, Region 7)

2018 record: 3-7 (1-4)

2018 opponents record: 79-39

Averaged 19.5 points per game, allowed 25.6 points per game. Opened season with game-winning touchdown pass from Max Dueland to Dylon Wallace to knock off Jasper at home 28-27.

Departing seniors: Dylon Wallace, Seth Gable, Jimnie Chau Le, Peyton Colvard, Ezra Burks, Canaan Lipsey, Riley Bradford, Jordan Ray, Keaton Kinney, Carter Borden, Cameron Starnes, Gavin Burtis, Luke Andrews.

Oscar Glasscock entering first season as head coach.

2019 Schedule

Aug. 22nd – @ Jasper

Aug. 30th – @ Mortimer Jordan

Sep. 6th – vs. Decatur *

Sep. 13th – @ Columbia *

Sep. 20th – vs. Albertville

Sep. 27th – vs. Hueytown

Oct. 4th – @ Athens *

Oct. 11th – @ Muscle Shoals *

Oct. 18th – vs. Hartselle *

Oct. 25th – vs. Fort Payne

Life Touch Photography

2019 Cullman Varsity Cheerleaders 

Lindsey Skinner, Amberly Brown, Jacey Mickle, Maddie Witcher, Chloe Echols, Krislyn Scroggins, Averi Wallace, Lilly Rutherford, Lauren Sumrall, Karli McGehee, Lindsey Lowery, Ellie Jones, Ashton Story, Sydney Ratliff, Emily Klair Brown, Elizabeth Baughn, Autumn Calvert, Sophie Harrison, Bailey Battles, Katelyn Kress, Adyson Bauer, Kathryn Dueland, Lexi Sumrall, Emily Newman and Emma Speakman

2019 Cullman Football Roster

No.      Name                          Grade

1          Isaiah Jones                 11

2          Max Dueland             11

3          Kennedy Griffin         11

4          Brayden Scroggins      12

5          JT Blackwood             10

6          Jaylen Hughey            11

7          Noah Bussman            12

8          Jaden Kay                   11

9          Jake Dueland              10

11        Bartle Jeb                    11

12        Ethan Echols               11

15        Logan Holley              11

16        Kaleb Bates                 10

17        Gabe Sosa                   11

18        Matt Brock                  11

19        Griffin Barksdale        11

20        Parker Hodges            10

21        Jamar Kay                   10

22        Dustin Speake             12

23        Jayden Sullins             12

24        Sam Brand                  11

25        Drew Conway             10

26        Cole Herfurth              11

27        Ethan Moore               11

28        Alex Sheppard            11

29        Lindsey Carter            12

31        Logan Crawford         11

32        Cooper Clemmons      12

34        Peyton Warren            11

35        Brody Adams              11

37        Noah Key                    10

38        Jackson Ray                10

39        Noah Elrod                 10

40        Banks Baker                10

42        Houston Smith            12

43        Cody Lynn                  11

44        Drew Ball                    10

45        Christian Canseco       10

46        Cannon Trimble          11

47        Jonathan Hood            10

51        Lane Smith                  12

52        Josue Miranda             10

53        Mason Richards          10

54        Carson Hill                  10

56        Bailey Hayes               12

58        Lane Parker                 10

59        Ben Turner                  12

62        Mason Williams          10

63        Evan Richards             10

64        Gavin Bush                 11

65        Will Stallings              12

68        Jay Knop                     11

73        Tanner Heatherly        12

74        Tyler White                 11

75        Parker Hyatt               11

77        Lance Larue                10

80        John Dudley                10

90        Layne Dial                  10

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Nick Griffin

nick@cullmantribune.com