Jerry Brown teaching the basics at Northside Christian Academy
Football 101 was in session Thursday at Northside Christian Academy, and Jerry Brown was in teaching mode.
The veteran coach was passing along his knowledge from his 40 years in the business as the first-year program held its first official practice of the season. Brown has been in teaching mode since he took over five months ago, going over basic concepts such as putting on a uniform and where to stand on the field.
"It is football 101. You got to make sure pads are in the right position, tell them where the hash, the numbers and yard lines are," Brown said. "It is a little scary sometime because you don’t know what they are going to do when they get out there.”
It’s been a learning experience for Brown, who is still getting used to the 8-man game. All of Brown’s experience has come in 11-man football in his four previous stops at Spring Valley, Fairfield Central, Berkeley and Batesburg-Leesville. He has won 260 games and five state titles.
Brown was out of football last year and did some consulting work for some teams while he recovered from knee surgery. But nothing can replace the interaction with the players on a daily basis.
"I just wanted to get out and coach the kids and coach them right. It’s hard to communicate on the phone. Nothing like giving kid the feedback," said Brown who has been overwhelmed by the support of the school’s administration. "It is a good transition for us. They have taken to the weight program and the high expectations we have put in from of them. I’m all about challenging people to be the best they can be."
Brown’s players have been receptive to his message, although some had never of him before he took over in March. Senior Caleb Dumais, who hasn’t played football since eighth grade, did research on the Internet to get him acquainted with his new coach.
"He is just amazing. I love what he is doing for us. He always pushing us and is like a dad and is motivating," Dumais said. "I thought I knew a lot coming into it but he has shown so much more than I thought there was to football.”
"He is a real coach and I am glad that our school has been able to get him," senior Louis Hunter said. "He is real motivating. If you are slacking, he will remind you that you are here for the team and not to be lazy."
Hunter and Dumais are two of the few seniors on the team. The rest of the squad is mainly underclassman with many playing on the school’s unbeaten middle school team last year.
Brown hopes to have around 24 players on the squad for the team’s first game. He has three coaches on his staff including former South Carolina Gamecocks chaplain Adrian Despres. The other two coaches are Seth Smalls, who played for Brown at Berkeley and Charles Gee, who is chaplain for the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association.
Northside will open up the season at home against Cathedral Academy on Aug. 26. The team will play its home games at Seven Oaks Recreation field in Irmo. An on-campus stadium should be finished by next year.