Wildcat football head coach Brian Brocato isn’t making any promises on whether or not the team will win more games this year. During last Wednesday’s Richmond Hill Exchange Club meeting, he said any good coach would be foolish to make such a prediction.
What he did do was outline his strategy to take the team to the top.
A strategy that has already broke the Cats’ losing streak and gained them a renewed reputation in the region.
"When I took over the varsity position last year, we were 0-20 for the 2 previous years," said Brocato. "When I first took over, I didn’t promise wins. What I did promise was discipline – that we’re going to look like a team and act like a team."
Last year, the Cats got two long-awaited wins and came within a hair of winning three additional games.
Also last year, 11 kids made the all-region team for either first, second or honorable mention which Brocato said has not been done before. This includes current player Caleb Brewer, who took 2nd all region.
"We made a pretty good impact with the fact that we played hard and we hit hard. Most teams we played didn’t want to play us again. That’s the first step, and you’ve got to take baby steps when you’re building a program.
Brocato said he has been asked a hundred times how he’s going to do this year. He said he referred several people to some knowledge that was gained from an old advisor of his.
"I learned from a really good coach, Erk Russell, who said this about coaching: ‘This isn’t about you. It’s about getting a program that the community cares about and that the kids want to play for. If you sell out to make the program work and don’t worry about you, then the kids will believe in it, the community will believe in it and you’ll win games.’ The winning comes after you get everybody to buy into it."
Brocato said he was a student of Russell’s while gaining a minor in coaching he attained from GSU.
He then added this about the football program at RHHS: "We made big strides last year and anybody who played us will tell you – we’re not the joke around here anymore. We were the least penalized team in the region and one of the least penalized teams in the state which means we are more disciplined."
Part of Brocato’s strategy for the coming season entails rallying community support for the team.
He said that is what brought him before the Exchange Club on this day.
"What I’m trying to do is get this town to put out some black and gold on Friday," he said. "Put up signs in your yard or in front of your business. We’ve got to get these kids to believe and the way they believe is to know that the people in this town believe in them. One way to do that is for them to ride through town before a game and see signs supporting them."
He spoke of the level of support the town he grew up in Oklahoma had toward its football team where "they’d shut the town down on Friday nights. The team colors could be seen everywhere you look and the stadium was packed. We can have that here."
He said the support will be warranted because of the enormous potential that exists within the program for not only this season’s players, but for players on the horizon.
"I’m telling you – the athletes are coming in the freshman and sophomore class," he said. "If they remain together and remain eligible, Richmond Hill is going to be competing for a region championship in two years and going fairly deep in the playoffs."
Brocato encouraged everyone to attend the games in a show of support.
He also spoke of the radio contract the Cats recently got to have their games broadcast on 104.7FM The Hawk "which is a way to keep up with the games when folks aren’t able to be in attendance."
In response to a question from Exchange Club member David Aspinwall about alleged recruiting from private schools, Brocato said he has had some run-ins regarding this issue.
He said he has witnessed private schools, because of the lack of rules regarding recruiting at that level, lure potential top players from Richmond Hill Middle School. He said he has heard there may indeed be an imminent change on the state level in having private schools competes in the same region as public schools because of practices such as this.
Brocato said the best way to avoid this issue being a threat is to "keep winning" and turn his program into one that kids want to play in.
"It’s been 12 years since Richmond Hill has had a winning season, but we’re getting much better," Brocato concluded. "The middle school has started winning, and the JV had a winning record last year. We’ll feel some of the effects of that this season as we have a young team. This year our goal is to get on a roll and stay there."