As we gear up for the high school football season, News 19 will be previewing more than 40 of our Tennessee Valley programs in On the Road with Olivia and Claudia.
Episode seven features the Buckhorn Bucks and Hazel Green Trojans.
It’s year two with Matt Patterson leading the Bucks. He said last year his guys bought in right away, and now it’s about continuing what they started.
“Changing the way we do things from the way we practice to the way we lift, the way we talk with each other, just changing the culture just like you do when you go anywhere and take over a new program,” Patterson said.
Despite graduating a large group of seniors, Patterson says they return a good amount of experience that is looking to improve on last year’s 5-5 record.
“This group has done a really good job of picking up where they left off so we’ve got about 18, 19 seniors and 28 to 30 juniors so really excited about the growth of our program,” Patterson added.
As the Bucks aim for their first postseason appearance since 2019, Patterson says the biggest thing for his team is to be confident on the field.
“Believe they can win. That’s the biggest thing, they’ve got to see themselves being successful and we talk about that all the time and that’s with everything they do in life. We’ve got a lot of question marks. We’ve got a long way to go before we get to our first ballgame but we’re kind of pleased to where we are right now,” Patterson said.
Now, we head over to another program looking to build something special. Charlie Wilburn has taken over the Hazel Green Trojans.
“The first thing that I noticed when I got here is we have a great group of seniors, I’ve got over 20 guys in that group, they’ve been through a lot of things. They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to create habits, trying to learn to do the little things right every day and they’ve done a really good job of working on that,” Wilburn said.
That senior leadership and experience is something Wilburn has leaned on during this transition.
“You want guys that it really matters to and usually if you have a senior class that has played and seen some things, they know it’s their last shot so they’re going to give it everything they’ve got and they’re going to do the things you ask them to do,” Wilburn added.
He added that after this group won three games each of the past two seasons, this year’s team especially the seniors are eager to hit the field and help change the culture with Hazel Green.
“Get guys to start believing that we can have success and start to kind of expect that instead of being kind of happy to be here. It’s not about me, it’s not about other coaches, it’s their team, it’s their program. We’re here to help guide them but ultimately it’s theirs. Teams that are really successful, it’s the guys on the field that are leading, so that’s what we’re trying to get to,” Wilburn said.
The Trojans will host Sparkman to open the 2022 season while the Bucks will host Madison County.