Calera has a young athletic team ready for a special race – Shelby County Reporter

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By SETH HAGAN | Special to journalist

CALERA – Calera’s basketball level is higher than it has ever been. The George Drake Eagles have become a playoff-style program with several deep runs including last year’s trip to the Elite Eight.

Calera is losing a deep and talented senior class with multiple All-County caps, but Drake and his team have already had to replace some good players.

Even though this version of the Eagles will be one of the youngest in his tenure, the standard remains the same.

“Our goals are to always win championships no matter what that looks like,” said Drake. “Whether it’s a regional championship or a state championship, we sort of define from year to year what that looks like, and it starts with our practices and the little things,” so I can’t wait to keep working.

The coaching staff take up the challenge and pass it on to the players who have seen the excellence emerge from the program.

“We haven’t missed the playoffs for six years and we want to get back to the regional championship,” said senior Justin Green. “We know it’s going to take work and we have to improve by one percent every day because we know it won’t be easy.”

Calera is known to light up the scoreboard, but an uncompromising defensive mindset is the catalyst that drives the offensive offense.

Drake preaches that the state of mind goes beyond court.

“I say this jokingly, but I want these guys in that frame of mind when your opponent gets off that bus, you keep him in the parking lot,” Drake said. “So it’s really about our defense and if our defense is beefed up and has a lot of energy, it bleeds into our offense and improves it.”

What the team may lack in experience, they certainly don’t lack athleticism, so there is a lot of potential that this new group can tap into.

“I think when this team freezes and commits to communicating both offensively and defensively, the sky is the limit for this team,” said Drake. “We have young guys who have engines and guys from the football team who will bring this aggression and once you put them all in the pot and release that energy not only physically but verbally, it’s all going to be fine. good. “

When asked what he attributes to his program’s ability to stay competitive over the past several years, Drake was quick to thank his players, staff and the players’ parents for their roles.

However, it’s clear that the veteran coach has an appealing kid-friendly basketball philosophy that still seems like a forward-thinking approach akin to the style of play on the next level.

“I have a unique way of describing the style of play that I want to see and that resonates with the guys,” Drake said. “Whether it’s the old-timers or the new players, they want to go up and down and they want to play fast and they want to score a lot of points and turn people around.”

This style and its success gives the next class of players the confidence that they can add to Calera basketball history and write their own chapter.

“We want to win, we are a winning team and we want to show that Calera can make some noise this year even after losing a lot of seniors,” said Green. “We’ve been watching these banners from when (Coach Drake) played until last year and we want one for ourselves.”

The Eagles will open the season Nov. 11 at Cullman.


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