FALKVILLE — Falkville head coach Joel Schrenk has many ways to gauge the success of the Blue Devil football program entering his second season.
One is by the numbers. There are 35 players on the roster — grades 9-12. That number creates a small dilemma on road trips for the 1A school. One bus is too small. Two buses means some empty seats.
“We may have to fill up the rest of the second bus with our eighth-graders,” said Schrenk.
Another gauge of progress came in 7-on-7 competition this summer. Schrenk could tell his players were more confident running his spread offense. It was easier to adapt to change in formations or play calling.
“Last summer, I would have to call a timeout, get in the huddle and explain what I wanted,” said Schrenk. “This summer, I would tell them what I wanted, and they would say ‘OK’ and they would go run the play. That makes a big difference.”
Schrenk came to Falkville from Cannon County, Tenn.
Before that he coached in Clarksville, Tenn. Before his two stops north of the border, he was an assistant at Austin High School. Even though he had lived in the same county as Falkville for many years, he was not sure what he would find when he took over the school’s football program.
Falkville football dates to 1924. It’s a long history, but not with a lot of success in recent years.
The Blue Devils had not had a winning season since 2000. The school’s one and only playoff win came in 2001.
“I was impressed with the facilities when I came for my interview,” said Schrenk. “They are really good for a 1A school. I became impressed with the kids. They understand now that it takes a lot of hard work in the weight room and on the practice field to be successful on Friday nights.”
It didn’t take Falkville long to find success under Schrenk.
The Blue Devils knocked off their first six opponents by a combined score of 221-78. It gave real meaning to the slogan painted on the junior high fieldhouse, “Fear the Fork.”
Unfortunately, the success didn’t continue. Falkville lost to longtime rival Addison, 20-12. Next up was a visit to No. 1-ranked Ragland in a battle of Purple Devils vs. Blue Devils. The game was scoreless at halftime, but Ragland won 24-0. Then came a 30-0 loss to 3A rival Danville to close out the regular season. A matchup in the first round of the playoffs against Pickens County did not go well with a 63-0 loss.
“We look at the season as a total success,” said Schrenk. “Having a winning season and making the playoffs were important. Yes, we didn’t finish as well as we should have, but it was a great start in the right direction.
“Right now we are light years ahead of where we were last year. We’re bigger, faster and stronger. It’s an exciting time to be at Falkville. The community and the booster club have really been supportive. I think there has been a change in culture at the school.”
After football season ended, winning continued in other sports at Falkville. The boys and girls basketball teams were successful. Softball advanced to region play. It was topped off by the track-and-field program winning a state championship.
“A lot of people have worked hard and deserve credit for the success at Falkville,” said Falkville resident Don Stisher, who is a member of the Morgan County Commission. “I’m proud of what Coach Schrenk has brought to Falkville.
“Sometimes you have to have a great leader to lead the crowd in the right direction. That’s what he’s done. He’s brought a lot of excitement and energy to Falkville. Coach is a really good fit for our community.”
Schrenk thinks Falkville is a good fit for him.
“I’ve coached at some big schools,” said Schrenk, “but, for me personally, I like the small school setting better. I went to a school like this. It’s just a good fit.”
Contact David Elwell at 256-340-2395 or at David.Elwell@DecaturDaily.com. Follow him on Twitter at DD_DavidElwell.