Starting from scratch

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 1, 2010

In the last 10 years, the Pleasant Home Eagles football program has grown to become a big part of such a small school.

In 2000, the first varsity football season took place at PHS and the Eagles finished that season 2-8, but that was only the beginning.

Before the school even had a varsity football team, a junior high/junior varsity team was already in place. They finished 11-0 in 1999, a year after the junior high/junior varsity team was formed under former coach Anthony Clark.

Clark coached the varsity Eagles from 2000-2002 and is currently the head boys basketball coach at UMS-Wright Preparatory School in Mobile.

Clark said the most memorable part of his tenure was his second season in 2001.

“The second year we were 7-4 and the (Class 1A) region (2) runner up,” Clark said. “That was the second year of our program and people complained that football would bring basketball down, but we had the five best years in basketball at the school in its history at the same time.”

The Pleasant Home varsity basketball team went on to win back-to-back state championships in 2001 and 2002.

Clark’s overall record was 15-26 and 12-14 in Class 1A, Region 2, and the Eagles made two appearances in the state playoffs.

Clark said the only reason why PHS has a football program today is because of community involvement.

“There was a lot of volunteer work,” Clark said. “A lot of men in the community put a tremendous amount of time into it. (Former PHS principal) Jim Garner was instrumental in it. He was very supportive and on board with it. Also, Don McCraney and Joey Barron were two of the hardest working guys in the community. It was amazing how such a small community was able to put it all together.”

From 2003-2006, current PHS softball coach Jimmy Reeves was at the helm of the football program.

Reeves said at that time there were a lot of kids who did not want to play other sports.

“We’ve had some pretty good kids that have come through the football program because there were a lot there that were not going to be basketball- or baseball-type people,” Reeves said. “We made the playoffs one time and had some really good kids that came through there. We did a lot of character building in those four years.”

The last time the Eagles made the playoffs was in the first round in 2006.

“The 2006 season would have to be my most memorable season,” Reeves said. “We had a good year. We were really doing well until we had some injuries late in the season. We could have possibly gone further in the playoffs.”

Before coming to Pleasant Home, Reeves was the head coach at Beauregard High School in Opelika. In addition, Anthony Clark served as an assistant coach under Reeves and they both came to PHS at the same time in 1998 to help set up the football program.

Reeves said the kids taught him a lot while he was coach.

“I learned that it’s a lot more to it than winning and losing,” Reeves said. “The kids taught me that. Even though we had a couple of losing seasons, our kids continued to grow and kept their heads up and persevered.”

From 2007 until today, Robert Bradford has led the Eagles.

Bradford said since then, the whole “attitude” of the school has changed about football.

“There were not many people out there that liked football,” Bradford said. “It was kind of a negative vibe towards football. Three years later, it was not like that.”

Since Bradford took over the program, the Eagles have compiled a 10-18 overall record.

Bradford said the program will only continue to get better in the future.

“I think the program has nowhere to go but up since I’ve had the chance to be there,” he said. “We have not been ultra-successful. We’ve consistently beaten the teams that are in our talent level.

“I see us every year getting a little bit better,” he said. “We’re so young right now in this. From the parent involvement to the amount of parent participation, everything is looking up. A question we’re all asking now is what is it going to take to get us past that next level.”