Eight months after the initial statement, Garrett is sticking to his word but is more realistic about the possibility of Munford winning its first state championship. After all, the Lions’ 2012 playoff run was its first since 2005 and the first time they won eight games in a season since 1998.
“I think we understand what it takes to win, make the playoffs and even go a couple of rounds in the playoffs. It’s not easy, and we understand that,” Munford coach Will Wagnon said. “Every year the players try to improve and work harder and harder and I think we’ve improved so far. This should be the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Since Wagnon took over in 2010, Munford’s record has improved each year. As far as improvement on the field from last year to this year, Wagnon, an offensive mastermind, said it’s actually the defense that’s taken the biggest strides.
“For the most part I think the defense is going to be a strong part of the season,” he said. “They’ve come together, they’re playing really hard and they’re in the right spots. They’re making it hard on the offense.”
The Lions defense has eight starters returning, including all of its secondary. Senior defensive back Tavon Lawson said the secondary is picking back up where it left off last year.
“We’re capable of doing extraordinary things this year,” he said. “We have a lot of players that are hungry.”
Offensively, Garrett gave everything he had and more last season, leading the team in passing with more than 1,800 yards, rushing with more than 1,500 yards and in rushing, passing and total touchdowns.
Wagnon is looking for a change in 2013, however. He said he wants Garrett to be more of a “facilitator,” with six starters returning. Two players that will step up with the changes are junior running back Calvin Smith and sophomore Charles Smith.
“They’re great,” Garrett said. “Calvin is an explosive back and he’s matured. Last year he would get it and just run. Now he keeps his eyes down field in preparation to make a cut,” Garrett said. “Charles is just a monster, that’s all I can say. He reminds me of Trent Richardson because when he gets it he hits the hole so hard. Calvin will shake you, but Charles will try to run you over no matter how big or tall you are.”
Garrett added both tailbacks will help him a lot, which they’ll need to do if Munford is going to do well in Class 4A, Region 5 again. Playing in one of the toughest regions in the state, Wagnon said Munford has to take it one game at a time.
“This year we’re going to try to not make any game bigger than any other,” he said. “We can’t compare ourselves to anyone else, we have to worry about what we have to do. I think if we do that then we’ll win as many games as we should.”
As far as team goals go, Wagnon simply put in place a motto: “Play like a champion every rep, every play, every day.” That’s the only goal the coach said the team has, but he did add Munford still has expectations.
“We expect to have a shot to win the region and we expect to beat Lincoln, as always,” Wagnon said. “We expect to make the playoffs and eventually, if we can go win, win a state championship.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star..
Munford at a glance
Coach: Will Wagnon (16-16 in three seasons at Munford)
Last year’s record: 8-4, including 5-2 in Class 4A, Region 5; Tied for second in region; lost to Brooks in second round of playoffs
Outlook: Munford looks to continue its trip to the top after making the postseason last year for the first time since 2005. Coach Will Wagnon said the Lions are better offensively than in 2012 and said the defense is even better than the offense. Despite being in a tough region, things are stacking up nicely for Munford to make a deep run with quarterback Monteo Garrett leading the offense and defensive back Tavon Lawson standing out on defense.
Munford's 2013 schedule
Aug. 30 at Corner
Sept. 6 vs. Lincoln
Sept. 13 at Cleburne County
Sept. 20 vs. Jacksonville
Sept. 27 at Clay Central
Oct. 4 at Alexandria
Oct. 11 at Hokes Bluff
Oct. 17 at Cherokee County
Oct. 25 vs. Anniston
Nov. 1 vs. Talladega