BY TIM GAYLE
It’s 3:27 a.m. on the eve of the first day in pads and Success Unlimited Academy coach Bill Granger just sent a text message to his assistant coaches.
He didn’t expect any of them to be awake. But when you’re building a team from scratch, ideas come to you in the strangest of forms. And at the strangest of times.
“It was not for them to answer,” Granger explained, “but I was sitting in my den because sometimes your mind is racing so much until you get what’s on your mind out.
“That part has been the stress part. The beauty part is seeing it all come together. It’s a wonderful journey, but to say it’s not stressful and I have not aged would be a lie.”
Granger was hired as the Mustangs’ athletic director and helped the athletic program add football in only 12 months. The school received uniforms as a gift from St. James; helmets from Autauga Academy; shoulder pads from Catholic; and a team bus was purchased from South Montgomery County Academy. The school joined the Alabama Independent School Association and put out the call for football players.
“We had some miracles occur between January and where we are now that just fell into place that if they didn’t I have no idea how we would be able to pull this off,” Granger said. “That’s just been a blessing. Also, it’s an all-in attitude here at school with the eligibility paperwork, sending out e-mails, taking the money that comes in. It’s a big operation. The administration and teachers that have volunteered just to be a part of what we’re doing, it’s an exciting time around here.”
Now comes the hardest part – figuring out the positions of the players to put in the right position to keep the program from embarrassing itself on game night and perhaps even pulling off the victory. Several of the players have played football before, either at another school or at a lower level earlier in their lives. For others, it’s their first time.
“We always let a kid tell us what they want to play,” Granger said, “but they have an understanding at the beginning that you will play where you’re most needed. And I’ve been very pleased at the kids that, after some initial discouragement that I may not be where I want to be, they’ve all just jumped in there and done a good job. It’s been amazing. They have a great attitude.
“We don’t know who our guard, tackle, everybody is, but we know here’s a linemen, here’s a back, here’s a receiver, here’s a potential starting quarterback. And we’re moving faster now because we’ve gotten past the initial stages, but we’re going to hit a brick wall again when we start hitting. Some of those who have the athletic ability, when they bump into each other, that may create more questions as one kid may love it and another one may hate it.”
In the meantime, as he continues to put the pieces of the puzzle together, Success Unlimited assistant coaches can expect more texts from their boss at all hours of the day and night.
“Numbers wise, we have enough to cover every position and a backup at most of them, so we’re doing well there,” Granger said. “Athletically, we have enough to compete and we’re very proud of that. We’re just learning each other and trying to build a team together. How far along will we be on Aug. 17? That’s like peeling an onion. You cannot get ahead of yourself. It takes this before you can do that.”