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Hubbert has Devils back on track

Try talking to a bunch of teenage tough guys about love.

Even if you don’t get laughed out of the room, they surely won’t take anything you say to heart, right?

But the key to the success enjoyed by the Maplesville football team this season was coach Brent Hubbert convincing the players to care about each other.

“Our big word for the year was ‘love,’” said Hubbert, The Clanton Advertiser’s Coach of the Year for the third time. “They really had to learn how to be closer.

“We told them if they could get to that point, then everything else would take care of itself.”

The Red Devils rebounded from last year’s disappointing 6-4 campaign to win 10 games in 2009.

Hubbert attributes much of the credit to his coaching staff, which he said set the tone for the players.

“Words can’t describe the coaching staff we have here at Maplesville,” Hubbert said. “It started with the coaching staff being excited about the season. They were taking the kids to camps over the summer; all of them were showing up for workouts.

“When the kids see that…”

Maplesville’s staff includes Eric Bailey, who played for Maplesville and has been an assistant for four head coaches at the school, and four other former Devils: Justin Little, Brad Pike, Brandon Shanks and Clint Tyus. There are also two former Isabella players, brothers Tate and Josh Leonard, giving Hubbert a deep, experienced staff to work with.

“It makes my job a lot easier,” he said. “I feel blessed to go to school and have these guys there to help.”

With only one senior on the 2009 squad, Maplesville fans are anxiously awaiting next season.

“It’s our job to challenge them to build off last year,” Hubbert said. “If you thought you really cared about each other, if you thought you really did what you needed to do, well, obviously, there’s more you can do.

“There’s always something to improve on.”

No matter if Hubbert leads Maplesville to its second state championship (Hubbert’s father, Jim, coached the 1996 championship team), Brent Hubbert will still be happy coaching football.

“I enjoy sitting in the field house and talking to the kids during the day,” he said. “It may be about football, it may be just about how their day is going.

“And that’s the thing about this group, they’ve been fun to be around.”