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For the Columbia City football program to succeed, it must make the most of its personnel against larger and more talented programs.
Good thing the new head coach has experience in that arena.
Brett Fox, who was named earlier this month as the replacement for the departed Randy Hudgins, played and coached at Eastbrook High School and Taylor University, two programs that have excelled with lesser talent under Jeff Adamson and Ron Korfmacher, respectively.
It is not a knock to say Columbia City does not have the number of top-flight athletes that other schools have, just a fact. That fact has not been lost on Fox, who is in his first head coaching gig.
“I think my experience with (Eastbrook and Taylor) helped me to form what we're going to do around the players we have,” Fox said about his plans. “We have to get kids to sacrifice their own desires … for what's best for the team and what is going to make us successful.”
In the early 2000s, Fox played for Adamson at Eastbrook, a program that is consistently one of the most competitive in Class 2A and Class 3A. In 25 years, Adamson has notched 214 victories, 11 sectional championships and three regional crowns.
Fox coached for four years at Taylor under Korfmacher, who has led a football resurgence at the NAIA program to become a consistent contender in the Mid-States Football Association.
“When you look at coming from Eastbrook, you are used to having small offensive linemen who have to play out of position,” Fox said. “A guy on every other team playing backup running back is a starting guard for you.
“(Adamson) turned a guy who was a junior varsity quarterback into a starting right guard. Both schools have great examples of that.”
Fox played both offensive line and defensive line at Eastbrook before focusing on the defensive side of the ball in college. He played for two seasons before a back injury cut short his career.
After four years coaching at Eastbrook and four more at Taylor, Fox is taking over a program that is coming off a 3-7 season.
“I am gracious and humbled by the chance to take over a program, but to take over a program that's a 4A school and a program in a very strong conference with competition every single week will be challenging.”
Despite the relative lateness in being hired, Fox has had help from his assistant coaches, most of whom will return under the new regime. The assistants were able to keep players engaged in the weight room and conditioning while the head coaching position was vacant.
That should help Columbia City avoid some of the pitfalls of bringing in a new head coach so late in the school year, just three months before the season begins.
“A lot of the (assistant coaches) are from the area and are very passionate about Columbia City,” Fox said. “That has helped me a bunch.”
In terms of schematics, Fox will play to the strengths of his players, whatever they may be.
And based on personal experience, he will surely have plenty of ideas on how to maximize his roster.
“We aren't going to do anything radical or earth shaking,” Fox said. “We are just going to build off some of my experience.”