It wasn’t that long ago when Bellmont football was beastly.
In 2015, Larry Getts coached the Braves to a 10-win campaign that included a sectional championship and wins over both Concordia and Bishop Luers in which both SAC foes were held to seven points.
While Bellmont did beat Concordia again last year in the postseason and played Bishop Luers tough in the sectional championship, there has not been much to cheer about for the Braves since that 2015 campaign.
New head coach Eric Davis hopes to change that in replacing Marty Ballard, who went 7-26 in three years at the helm.
“When I got out of coaching at Frankfort (after one season in 2016), it was one of those situations where I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to be a head coach again,” Davis said. “The truth of it is, I have had a long connection with the Bellmont football program for about 15 years. The season off kind of allowed me to reflect and think about what I wanted to do.
“I got real excited about the Bellmont situation. I visited for a couple of basketball games and scoped the place out.”
Back in 2004, Davis was on staff at Logansport when the Berries faced off against Bellmont in sectionals. One week before, the Braves had knocked out Bishop Dwenger 32-31 in double OT. Logansport was able to edge Bellmont that day, 21-20.
One year later in the offseason, former Bellmont coach Toney Bergman took his staff to Logansport to learn about the Berries’ offensive idiosyncrasies from then-coach Elmer Britton.
“Our staff worked with their staff and we got to know each other well,” Davis said. “From there we would have a couple summer events we would both be at and Bellmont came over for some workouts a few times over the years.”
Davis didn’t forget the good impression that those from Bellmont made. When the job came open, he pounced. This will be Davis’ sixth coaching stop in 11 seasons, with previous gigs at Blackford, Greencastle, Taylor, Tri-County and Frankfort. He has a 27-75 career record.
Expect the offense under Davis to look somewhat similar to the scheme run under Ballard.
“We will always run some sort of option,” Davis said. “For me, the option system is kind of the base plan, but we will mold and adapt it around what our kids can do.”
In terms of personnel, the Braves will return quarterback Johnathan Wilder, but will have to replace some keys on both sides of the ball. Running back/linebacker Colin Mills, who had a huge touchdown run in the sectional defeat of Concordia last year, has graduated. Also gone are wide receivers Aaron Lehman and Noah Macklin.
Senior linebacker Caden Friedt could be looked upon as the leader of the defensive unit.
“Something that is worth noting is that despite starting 0-9 those kids competed last year,” Davis said. “Week in and week out their kids competed and never laid down. That is really important.”
Davis is in the process of reviewing the assistant coaches that were under Ballard as well as working some of his contacts as he builds a staff. He is eager to get started once the school year finishes up and he is able to relocate from Frankfort.
“The reality of it is, (the Braves) are not very far off,” Davis said. “The former coaches did a good job keeping guys on board. We are just going to build and see where that takes us.”