Bremen High School football burst onto the Class AAA scene last fall, making the second round of state playoffs in its first year in the affiliation.
Since that time, Blue Devil head coach Davis Russell and staff have been hard at work laying the groundwork to build on that performance.
With players participating in other sports, the Blue Devils won't be taking the field for a traditional spring practice like their contemporaries at other local schools, as they'll once again play two scrimmages in the fall before kicking off the 2017 campaign.
Instead of hitting each other this spring, they'll continue to hit the weight room, where the head coach has seen several players take significant strides this offseason.
"Our strength and conditioning coach Kail Singleton has done a fantastic job with these kids in getting their bodies where they need to be," Russell said. "Our weight room maxes have increased dramatically and multiple kids who played last year have grown significantly since the end of the season."
Now entering Year 2 as the head of the Bremen program, Russell has spent this spring making preparations for a 2017 campaign where he hopes he can take the team to even greater heights. The 2016 Blue Devils were anchored by all-area standouts such as Kyle Bailey, Logan Johnson and Matthew Lyons. Now with a fresh new group of leaders, he's had nothing but adulation for the next batch of Bremen stars.
"The first thing that pops out about this group is that we have a bunch of really good kids who work their tail off," Russell said. "There's not a kid that's in our program right now that you don't enjoy being around and that makes our job really easy."
Coaching runs in Russell's blood with him being the grandson of the late legendary Georgia Southern head coach Erk Russell. As he reflected on his first full year as a head coach in the high school ranks, he shared the two most important aspects of the job that he's picked up during his time at Bremen.
"The biggest thing for me from a coaching standpoint is to trust my other coaches," Russell said. "For example, I was always the weight room guy, but I have guys now like coach Singleton who I can trust in that aspect because they are really some of the best coaches in the state. Another thing is to just love these dang kids. When they know you love them and you care for them, they're willing to run through a brick wall for you. I believe the relationships we've built with these kids will help us continue to be successful."
Looking ahead to the summer and fall when they do take the field, the head coach doesn't really see any significant changes that they need to make to maintain their early success. As cliché as it may sound, it truly is about taking things day-by-day for the Blue Devils.
"We need to just keep doing what we're doing, take it one game at a time and continue to work as hard as we can," Russell said. "I'm never going ask our kids to go win a game. I'm going to ask them to play hard, have fun and expect to win. I believe if we work hard every single day then the results will take care of themselves. With these great group of kids, I believe that they'll continue to work."