Folmar ready to lead Edgewood Academy
By Tim Gayle
ELMORE - With a flurry of departures from both players and coaches, it seems like new Edgewood Academy coach Eric Folmar would have taken advantage of Alabama Independent School Association rules that permitted him to start practice last Thursday.
Instead, Folmar will wait until Monday to kick off the Wildcats’ preseason practice.
“Part of the reason for starting Monday is to push the time back to let more kids in,” he explained. “We’ve had several testing, we’ve got a couple more coming and some testing (this) week. Right now, we’ve got around 25 total on the varsity roster. I haven’t really looked at what the kids’ roles were a year ago, but I know we’ve got three starters back and several that played significant roles.”
Immediately after former coach Bobby Carr resigned a month ago, school administrators asked to be released from participation in the inaugural Southeastern Commission of Independent Schools’ Kickoff Classic on Aug. 12-13 at Cramton Bowl. But Folmar didn’t think it was fair on his 2016 seniors to play a nine-game schedule, so he elected to add a 10th game with Morgan Academy the following week.
“When the deal with (Jackson Prep in) Mississippi didn’t work out, I wanted to find a 10th game because I wanted our seniors to have a full slate,” Folmar said. “I had actually talked to (Morgan Academy coach) Josh (Thacker) beforehand and he said they were full. I was down in the Panhandle trying to find schools, Georgia, Mississippi, everywhere. This past weekend (no Aug. 23-24), Josh sent me a text message and asked me if I was interested in doing a game at Faulkner with Bessemer and Monroe playing that night. So we got it worked out on Monday.”
Folmar, 31 and a 2003 graduate of Edgewood, knows he has huge shoes to fill in keeping alive a tradition that includes six consecutive state championships from 2010-15 and a national-best 71-game winning streak. But Folmar is only interested in putting his stamp on Edgewood football, not continuing the legacy of his former high school coach.
“The opportunity to come back home and coach at my alma mater is one I’m really grateful for,” he said. “The challenge has been and will be really tough, moving forward, for the next couple of years. I’ve had some people put it to me this way: If every single one of those kids (that transferred) had stayed, the storyline would have been that you were just handed the keys to the Mercedes Benz and you just roll with it. Now, it’s going to take us a couple of years to build it back, but when it’s up and running again, it’ll have our name on it, the guys that stayed and the coaching staff. That’s the positive of it.
“The past three years, there has been so much talent, you just knew from week to week you were so much more talented than whatever team you were going up against that there wasn’t a chance for that other team to do anything. Now, we’re trying to get our kids back in the mindset that we’ve got to really work to earn something.”
But in a region that includes Springwood, Lee-Scott, Glenwood, Tuscaloosa and defending Class AAA champion Bessemer, the traditional Class AA power could face a steep learning curve in its first season as a AAA team since 2007.
“I guess I was from a different era than it’s been the last few years,” said Folmar, a receiver and cornerback in 2002 when the Wildcats went undefeated in the regular season before losing to Southern in the AA semifinals. “We didn’t have 50 guys and most schools don’t. We’re going to play both ways. Our guys aren’t going to leave the field (for a rest) on Friday night. That’s something they’re going to have to get used to again. We have to get our best guys out there in order to give us a chance to win. If that means that we’re only playing 13, 14 guys, then that’s the way it’s got to be.”
His first order of business will be finding a quarterback to replace the graduated Nathan Rourke. Entering fall practice, there were none on the roster.
“That one’s kind of up in the air,” Folmar admitted. “We haven’t settled on that one yet, but we’ve got some kids that are capable of doing it. Whoever the best athlete is on my team, I’m probably always going to put him at quarterback. It’s going to be a delicate situation. I think when you’ve got an inexperienced quarterback, I think the blueprint has been laid out in Tuscaloosa for several years now. You’ve got to be able to run the football to take some pressure off of your quarterback. We’re not going to put our quarterback in a situation where we’ve got to throw to win the football game.”
Many of these players weren’t playing organized football the last time Edgewood lost a regular-season game, but Folmar said he can’t dwell on the past.
“We’ve got to be more process oriented,” he said. “I’m not worried about the results on Friday night, you can’t be a result-minded guy, you just have to worry about the process and the results will take care of themselves. We’re not looking back and what has been, that’s in the past. It’s a completely new era of Edgewood football and we’re going to have to move forward in a different direction than what it’s been the last few years.”