Hammontree, Heritage finding inspiration in the name
By Leonard Butts | (email@example.com)
This past spring, the Heritage Mountaineers began using their own name as inspiration.
Under the guidance of new head coach Tim Hammontree, the process of taking ownership and generating pride in a strong work ethic is being viewed as a form of mountaineering — climbing ever upward through different levels of football.
And the base camp for the expedition under Hammontree, whose success at Maryville High in the 1990s has been well-documented, is anchored on hard work.
“Trying to develop a tradition starts with your daily work habits,” Hammontree told The Daily Times. “That’s what we’ve focused on so far at Heritage. All the young men we’re working with have committed to hard work.
“We don’t talk about winning games or winning anything, really. I think the basic foundation is discipline and doing things right, even the smallest things, and that went really well in the spring and is still going great.”
Although Heritage lost 16 seniors to graduation, academic class and playing experience are less important than dedication and leadership ability in the transition to a new way of doing things on the practice field, Hammontree said.
“We have a group that has stepped into a leadership position — and not just seniors. When the numbers are small, it’s about who is beside you,” he added.
The Mountaineers numbered about 40 at spring practice, and Hammontree doesn’t expect the varsity to grow beyond 55 by kickoff of 2012’s first game.
“We have talked about tough guy football,” he said. “A lot of guys are going to be playing both ways. There have been a lot of teams like that at Heritage.
“I told these guys it doesn’t matter if we’re down to 30 (players). We just call ourselves the Dirty 30 and get on the bus and go.”
Yet Heritage’s freshman squad, which the varsity coaches will also mentor, has 45 players, and that bodes well for future seasons.
Two of Hammontree’s assistant coaches have helped a great deal with his own transition in taking over the Heritage program, he said. Adam Hendricks, co-offensive coordinator, and Jed West, a defensive assistant, both played for the Mountaineers.
“They gave me a good idea of what players are thinking and feeling at Heritage, and our players really respect them,” Hammontree said.
Also joining Hammontree’s staff are Robert Reeves, formerly at Karns, who will be co-offensive coordinator with Hendricks. Former Maryville High standout and University of Tennessee player Chuck Prugh will be a volunteer coach working with the offensive line, and Scott Hammontree, Tim’s brother, brings 15 years of experience at Greenback to working as a volunteer defensive assistant. The head coach will also serve as defensive coordinator.
“These guys are great teachers foremost and that’s what you need,” Hammontree said.
Finding a scheme
Heritage did not hold any scrimmages with other teams this spring, but by the end of the allotted practice days, the Mountaineer staff had settled on offensive and defensive schemes.
“When your numbers are small, it’s easier to get an idea more quickly of what you can run,” Hammontree said. “So after about six days, we could say we aren’t going to be this kind of team, so we’ll be that kind of team.”
The Mountaineers have been holding summer workouts in the evenings, which helps solve transportation and summer job issues.
“It’s also the time we’ll be playing on Friday nights,” Hammontree said.
When that time comes around, Hammontree wants the Mountaineers to feel confident with what they have accomplished in practice and workouts.
“Ownership is really the key. This is their football team,” he said. “I want them to go out and play on Friday nights. I don’t want them to worry or panic. I want them to have fun.”