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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

From 0-11 last year to 6-5 this year and a spot in the playoffs, it has been a remarkable season for the Trojan football team.

“When you come off something like last year and you have a winning season,” West Brunswick High School football coach Jimmy Fletcher said, “it’s a great feeling for your players and your coaches. It just makes you feel excited.”

How did Fletcher turn around the West Brunswick High School football team?

He credits the players.

“I think it started in the spring,” he said. “When they worked hard in the spring and they turned around and worked hard in the summer, I just thought some good things were going to happen to them. They worked, and I think it paid off.”

Quarterback Ryan Hill said the team remembered the misery of last year.

“That was the motivation—the 0-11,” he said. “We wanted to win the first game and take it from there. We ended up having a winning season.”

But Hill also said Fletcher was a different coach this year.

“After last season,” Hill said, “seeing him at (the first) practice, we could tell he was a whole different person. He tried to get in our heads that we (have the talent) to be a winning team and that we needed to start winning.”

Maverick Pate said some other coaches also were important in the turnaround.

“Coach Mike Alderson, he’s the person we needed last year,” Pate said. “And Rob Foringer, the linebackers’ coach. Those were the people we needed this year. We had some coaches last year that didn’t really care. But we needed someone to fuss at us, grab our helmets and cuss at us—do whatever they had to do to get in our heads (we could win).”

Fletcher, too, had a different approach, Pate said.

“He came out there knowing we are better than (0-11),” Pate said. “He came out there screaming and yelling. He made us run. We ran 1,000 yards every day in the heat, 90 degrees. We just kept on running.”

In the end, the tough love approach succeeded.

“Finally,” Pate said after the Trojans’ 40-16 victory over North Brunswick, “we get to here and we’re going to go to the playoffs. Well see what we can do there.”

MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at sports@brunswickbeacon.com.