A new Maryville strong
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s quite a job Brandon Waters has taken over, trying to make Maryville High School football players better at playing football.
Waters, a former Red Rebel himself, is in his first year as the head strength and conditioning coach under the head football coach he played for at Maryville, George Quarles.
“My philosophy is simple,” Waters said. “It’s to make our football players better football players.”
The philosophy sounds, as Waters puts it, simple enough. But it’s a daunting task within the juggernaut of a program Quarles has built.
Waters was a three-year starter under Quarles in his first four years on the job, from 1999 to 2003, when the Rebels lost what’s become an unheard of eight games over the four year stretch.
Fast forward to 2011, nine state championships later, and Quarles has won 179 of 192 career games — a dynasty’s dynasty.
The two-time defending state champions are 144-5 over the last 10 years. They went 74-0 — holding claim to the nation’s longest active winning streak — from 2004 to 2008 before a 10-7 loss to Hillsboro in the ‘08 Blue Cross Bowl.
The graduating seniors from the 2007 season never lost a game in four years, going 60-for-60 in the win column and 4-for-4 in Murfreesboro.
Eight times in the last eight years the Rebels have went to the state title game. Six times they brought home the gold ball.
Make a Maryville football team better? That’s a tall order.
A new state of mind
“It’s hard to change a mindset where they had a certain expectation before,” Waters said, “and you come in and maybe do more, or increase the expectation in the weight room.
“It’s hard to brainwash them that way.”
Waters did his part to help change the culture at Heritage, where he was in charge of the weight room in 2009 and 2010.
The Waters-trained Mountaineers went 7-13 in his two years on staff.
“We worked on transforming (the strength program), transforming the mindset,” Waters said. “That (7-13 record) was better than previous success, but we still felt like we had a long way to go.”
Before Heritage, Waters was himself trained under former University of Tennessee strength and conditioning coach Johnny Long.
He spent 2007 and 2008 as a graduate assistant on former UT coach Philip Fulmer’s staff.
When the Maryville job came open a little over a year ago, Waters jumped on the chance to come back home to the other side of Blount County.
“I thought just the opportunity to work with coach Quarles would be a once in a lifetime kind of thing,” Waters said. “I think just for me and my wife, it was just kind of a no-brainer.
“It’s obviously been a great opportunity. There’s still a lot of work for me to do. But so far, so good.”
Waters took over for Wayne Thompson, who had been Quarles’ head strength coach since ‘99.
“Wayne had done a great job,” Quarles said. “Brandon, I think this was kind of his dream job, in a lot of ways, to come back here and be the strength coach.
“Thompson did a great job. Brandon’s approach is a little different, and some times different can help.”
So far so good
Quarles has taken notice in the short time that Waters has been in the new position.
“He’s extremely hard working,” Quarles said. “He’s here all the time, the kids really gravitate to him. He pushes them, he encourages them. He’s just a great strength guy, a lot of energy.”
“I think he likes how the kids are stronger in their cores,” Waters said, “and I think he likes how much more flexible their hips are. With that I hope we’ll increase their athletic ability, and how they move their hips on the football field, and the way they change direction.
“So far he’s been pleased with that.”
Waters background and philosophy lies in Olympic lifts. The snatch, the clean and press and the clean and jerk, among others — helping build the stronger core.
“It’s not make them Olympic lifters or anything like that,” Waters said. “I’m just trying to increase their athletic ability.
“I love teaching the kids the Olympic lifts ... Emphasizing multi-joint movements, plyometrics, a lot of speed training.”
The results from a new focus in the weight may not be obvious this early, but just give it a couple years, Quarles said.
“I don’t know if we’re going to notice as much difference now. I think you may notice this sophomore class, when they’re seniors, that kind of stuff.
“I think clearly we’re a little trimmer. Our core is a little stronger, I think.”
Like everything else at Maryville, training in Waters’ weight room has turned into competition.
“I think the big thing he (Quarles) likes is the way they compete in the weight room,” Waters said. “We emphasize competitions all the time, and they love to compete.”
The competition, the results, it’s all about buying in now — and it paying off later.
“You start off with a couple classes,” Waters said. “My sophomore class and freshman class have really, really responded to it, to what we’ve tried to do.
“We feel very, very good about the future.”