No time to rebuild for Brad Dehem and the Brookstone Cougars

kprice@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 4, 2012 

This has been a year of big changes for Brookstone football coach Brad Dehem.

Dehem accepted the head coaching job at the private school in the spring when Blair Harrison resigned to take a job back in home state of Tennessee.

Dehem, who had been the offensive coordinator at Wesleyan since 2006, an Atlanta-area private school, will soon close on a house here in the Bi-City area. In the meantime, he has been shuttling back and forth between his family in Atlanta and his new job in Columbus.

And his family is about to grow. Dehem and his wife, who already have one child, are expecting another in the near future.

"It has been a crazy summer," Dehem said earlier this week "My assistants have picked up the slack when I was unable to be here for all the workouts.

"This summer, we have worked out four times a week and I have made at least two of those when I could. I have great assistants and they have done a great job."

The Cougars began practice with full pads last Wednesday, per Georgia High School Association rules, with 48 players. Dehem expects those numbers to remain stable throughout the season.

"I worked really hard in the spring and summer to get as many as I could to come back out," he said.

Dehem stepped into an unusual situation at Brookstone. Most new coaches are being asked to replace someone who failed to win enough.

That was not the case with Harrison, who went 73-29 in nine seasons, including a pair of 11-win seasons in 2007 and '08.

Harrison, who went through a battle with cancer during his time at Brookstone, wanted to coach closer to home.

Dehem knows there is no grace period for the start of his career at Brookstone.

"There are high expectations here, and that can be challenging," Dehem said. "I don't want this to be seen as a rebuilding year. We have an incredible senior class and I want to continue that. But at the same time, there is a little bit of a learning curve. It's definitely a challenge."

Dehem was glad to find one by-product of the Harrison era still in place when he arrived.

"I like the fact that there is a tradition of winning here," Dehem said. "The work ethic here is really noticeable to me. That takes such a long time to develop and get the kids to buy into."

Unlike Harrison, however, Dehem's offense will likely be more wide-open.

"We are going to use a lot of different formations," he said.

"We are going to try and use formations, motion and things like that to give us an advantage each week.

"We will spread the ball out, a lot more players will be involved. We would like to be 60-40, 60 run, 40 pass. but some of that will depend on the opponent."

One advantage Dehem has already found -- quarterback Duncan Fletcher.

"We have a lot of talented skill positions -- secondary, receivers and running backs, and obviously at quarterback," Dehem said.

"It is such an advantage to have Duncan back there. He is a really bright kid.

"He has grasped the offense faster than any quarterback I have ever had."

Brookstone will begin the Dehem era in earnest on Aug. 31 when they host Columbus High in both teams' season-opener.

Kevin Price, kprice@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-320-4493

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