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Woods talks vision, expectations for Wetumpka Football

Central Al Scoreboard

Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

Photos Courtesy Wetumpka Athletics

WETUMPKA – After one conversation with new Wetumpka High Football Coach and Athletic Director Bear Woods, it is clear that he is passionate about the Indians – all of them – and taking the correct steps in order to build the program.

“I think these kids are hungry and motivated and we are further along today than what we were four weeks ago,” said Woods. “Our process is simple: to genuinely get to know one another and trust one another so that we are moving along in the right direction, which we are and that is tremendous.”

Catching everyone up: Longtime Indians Football Coach and Athletics Director Tim Perry announced he was retiring following the Tribe’s loss to Saraland in the first round of the Class 6A Playoffs. Perry took over in 2012 and (apart from that first season) took the Indians to the postseason in consecutive years. That run was highlighted by a 2017 trip to the 6A State Championship game in 2017 losing to Pinson Valley in the finale.

He’s staying on staff through the end of the school year – but made it clear in his announcement that it was time to bring in new blood.

After a search – that new blood was found winding down his career in Canada. Woods – who rose to prominence as a Troy University Trojan – spent the past 12 seasons playing in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes. In Montreal he set a single-season franchise record with 126 tackles and was twice named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. He then moved over to Toronto and was a part of the Argonauts run to the Grey Cup.

It’s also during this time that Woods discovered his passion for working with the younger players; a passion that led him to the high school ranks and is the foundation on which he is building the Indians program.

Woods: “The leadership within the entire team is continually gaining ground. And here’s what’s so great about where we are right now: It’s a clean slate. All I know is jersey numbers and nobody is wearing a jersey right now, I don’t know who’s who. All I see is their attitude and their effort right now when we are working out and running on the field. So when I call someone out – I don’t know if they are a starter or a senior or a freshman because I don’t know faces yet. It creates a unique opportunity of true competition and these young men have flourished. Just as many freshmen have been called out by me in a good way as there have been seniors. That just shows we have people right now willing to step up and lead – we’ve got players for years to come already growing for years to come being positioned to be leaders.”

The opportunity to build the culture – a new culture – within the Wetumpka High Football programs ultimately became the job’s greatest selling point for Woods.

Woods: “It’s the first step of a new journey. And they have heard those two words “first step” a million times; whether it’s talking about growing this program or it’s talking about doing a drill the right way. The seniors here are the tip of the spear and they are crucial in taking ownership of helping to build that foundation for years to come.”

Woods added that the seniors are buying into the program and buying into what he is trying to accomplish on the Banks of the Coosa.

“If I can treat you like men, I can teach you how to be a pro,” said Woods. “They are — right now – learning how to be a pro from a pro. If we say 7:35, we expect you to be there at 7:35 ready to get started. That’s life. That’s what we are teaching. When you leave our program – regardless of what you do in athletics – you are going to be ready to be a leader in any facet of life. The seniors have stepped up, absolutely. The underclassmen have too. But this is one time when you truly have an outsider leading the program. I wish I would have had that opportunity when I was their age. I have no preconceived notions.”

“Win the moment” – that’s become another phrase Woods is teaching the Indians.

“High school football has become tainted with so many kids looking ahead, that I just want them to be present and be mentally here, focused on winning the moment,” said Woods. “Every moment is something to be cherished and something to be grateful for. Being a pro, being in the league for 12 years you lose sight of that. But towards the end of your road, you start to appreciate those moments. As a parent – it’s the same thing. And with these kids – that’s what I’m trying to teach them to celebrate and enjoy the here-and-now, that every moment is a blessing. Coming into this after being a pro, I’ve lived the journey and I’m hoping – especially with the parents in this community – that I’m able to bring some reality to what this process is really like. It’s not an easy road. But I am looking forward to growing this program and working with those parents to make sure these kids are in a position to get the most out of this and to get where they are trying to go.”

With the roadmap laid out for the student-athletes, Woods can now focus on building his coaching staff.

Woods: “I’ve given plenty of thought to that. Xs and Os – I can find plenty of scumbags that are solely focused on that. But I am looking for men of integrity that believe in the culture that I’m trying to create here; that can buy into a servant mentality. I’m here to serve the staff, the community by putting together a staff that holds others above themselves. But like everything else it’s going to take time and it’s going to be a process. I don’t know anybody yet. They don’t trust me and I don’t trust them yet – but the more time we spend together, the more time we will have time to build that and shape that into something that is going to be the best for the program and this school.”

Founder/Publisher of Central Alabama Scoreboard. Former sportsguy, managing editor, currently working for the City of Tallassee as a Public Information Specialist and grant writer.

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