Archive for November 8th, 2011
Charleston coach Brett Blackman is not a man of many words….but what he does say carries weight and meaning and he’s not afraid to put it out there; tell it like it is….I like – and respect – that about him…
And so, as the second year head man of the Blue Jays, Blackman has the program headed in the right direction and with full support his players, fans, coaches, administration and the community.
No small task considering where the program was three years ago; and where it is today. Much has been made of the turnaround – and with just cause. Charleston put together 1-9, 1-9 and 0-10 seasons before finishing this year at 5-6 following Wednesday’s disappointing 16-13 regional playoff loss at Crystal City.
Charleston also passed the eye test. It was hard watching a game in recent seasons. This year, the Jays were competitive from the get-go, including the Sikeston season opening rivalry game that ended up a blowout but was evenly contested until the Dawgs scored twice in the final minute of the first half.
And while there were a couple of games in the season where the Jays played a clunker, Blackman knew his team had grown with their response to the defeats with the way Charleston together a 3-game winning streak that lifted them to the playoffs.
Joining the 2011 Charleston Blue Jays baseball team’s first ever state final four appearance; and the 2011 Blue Jays basketball team that made another appearance in the final four. Blackman wants that same sustained success for the Jays football program.
“To be perfectly honest, there was coach’s and kids last year (0-10) that didn’t even want to go to practice…I never felt that way for a minute this year; the kids got along well together, supported each other.”
“The chemistry that developed over the years; encouraging each other and growing together. Those are some of the key things I will take away from this year. It’s just a shame for our kids to end the season like that.”
“I’m very pleased with the way our kids battled back and through the disappointments, bouncing back after the disaster at Portageville was a good indication of the character of this team.”
Well, the 2012 edition will have a chance to continue to build on the foundation that has been laid by seniors Maurice Moore; Jamaul Gray; Krushon Scott; Michael Baugh, DeMarcus Coleman and Cody Hailey…
Blackman had glowing things to say about all of the above but singled out Hailey for his perseverance. While not a game changer, Blackman said Hailey was at every practice, weight program and was every bit as much a part of the rebuilding process…
That will continue in 2012 with leaders Kalen Armstrong, Cole Byford, among others that will continue to the off season program with eyes to the future…The Blue Jays must add an element of depth to the roster to continue moving forward.
“Cole took his lumps as a sophomore. He came out this year, dedicated to the weight room and had a great year. One thing people don’t know is that Cole works on the farm in the summer and couldn’t make the 7 a.m. off-season weight program. He came in at 5:30 instead and got his work done and then go out in the heat and work. Not a lot of kids do that.”
I will have the complete schedule soon, but the storied rivalries of Sikeston and East Prairie will continue. Charleston is still Class 2 and is in the same eight-team District as the Eagles with Caruterhsville, Scott City, Herculaneum, St. Pius, Crystal City, Malden.
The Blue Jays open the 2012 season with 4A Sikeston, 1A Hayti, 2A Caruthersville, 3A Dexter – week 5 is open currently as Principia was shuffled out of a game with the Jays due to realignment in StL – then 3A NMCC, 3A Kennett, 2A Ep and end the regular nine game season with 1A Chaffee.
The new playoff format comes into play in 2012 and the Jays will benefit with playing 4 larger schools on the slate; the 1A teams will cost more points in a defeat. For a review of the playoff system, see previous Ep 2012 schedule post.
Blackman was also candid about possible movement within the SEMO Conference. Two years ago, Charleston petitioned the Conference for realignment to the South Division. That request was denied. The Jays did not make a motion this year but the hard work will come when Kelly begins competition at the varsity level in the 2014-15 season.
The Hawks – under coach Kennett Reddinger – will field a JV team the next two seasons before establishing a varsity program. Tentatively, Kelly will be on the Charleston JV slate, though a date has not been set.
“We welcome them to the conference,” said Blackman. “It will be a natural rivalry for us, with the schools being so close. It will help at the gate and it will force (the SEMO Conference) to take a look at realignment.”
REALIGNMENT proposal coming in NEXT post