Aledo has won three straight 4A championships and everyone wants to know how the Bearcats will do without 2011 player of the year, Jonathon Gray. Great players always get the credit when things go well, but consistent success in football usually results from a consistent coaching philosophy. There are many valid philosophies that work, sometimes even contradictory ones, but the key is the buy-in from the players and staff. This commitment to the system, whatever the system is, leads to success. It may sound trite, but football teams can often be successful because they believe in what they’re doing and do it well. Aledo’s offensive line coach Lee Bishop summed up the philosophy of Coach Buchanan’s program:
1) Find your best 12 athletes; put the best at quarterback and the next 11 on defense.
2) On offense, always focus on having a physical running game.
I can’t tell you how well Aledo will cope with the loss of Jonathon Gray, but Aledo looked very impressive. They probably won’t scare anyone when they line up for the National Anthem. They’re not very big and their numbers are a little down from previous years, but Coach Buchanan told me he’s very happy with his teams’ strength and they looked very fast at every offensive position. Without pads, it’s hard to get a feel of the defense, but it is a veteran group. Every defensive starter started at least two varsity games in 2011. I understand the defensive unit was very good last year, so there is no reason it shouldn’t carry the Bearcats early while to offense gets game experience. Practice was well-run, organized and relatively physical for a team without pads.
What a beautiful facility they have at Aledo. Just being out there in that stadium made me feel big time, I can’t even imagine what it’s like for the kids who practice and play there. I hope they appreciate what they have. 99% of high school players in this country never set foot in a place as outstanding.