SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- As a senior at UMass Amherst in 2003, Valdamar Brower was selected as an All-Atlantic 10 defensive lineman. It’s not a surprise that it was tough for him to simplify his football mindset when he became a high school coach.
“Coming out of UMass I knew too much as far as defense and trying to implement new things,” Brower said. “I was trying to do too many things. I had to slow it down, and kind of go back to when I was in high school.”
Now in his fourth year as head coach at Central High School in Springfield, Brower is drawing upon his experiences playing at Northampton High School under the late coach Frank Tudryn to help him start his coaching career.
“The late great Frank Tudryn really prepared me for UMass,” Brower said. “He was a great coach preparing for things, and he really taught us how to practice and taught us dedication.”
Now some of the experiences that Brower learned from Tudryn are rubbing off on Brower’s players at Central.
“Coach Brower brings a lot,” running back Sacoy Malone said. “He came my freshman year and ever since then he brought in the coaches, he built the playbook and brought new plays.”
Last season all of the experience Brower brought to the table almost paid off. The Golden Eagles lost in the Division 1A Superbowl to perennial powerhouse Longmeadow, 34-31, but now are poised to make a comeback.
“This year we have to work harder,” senior Quentin Jones said. “Last year it wasn’t easy to get to the super bowl, so this year we have to work even harder and try and bring the ring back home to Springfield.”
“It’s a brand new season,” Brower said when asked about last season. “It’s been a long time since that December game.”
But Brower has goals for his team off the field as well.
He is putting a lot of emphasis in getting players in the Springfield-area high school to pursue higher education -- whether it be by way of a football scholarship or not.
“When I met him he came to me and said ‘I want you to go to college because they can’t take that degree away from you’,” lineman Ismael Figueroa said.
“I can’t say enough about Coach Brower,” senior Richard Williams said. “I look up to him like a brother figure…he’s the man.”
Brower has taken some of his players under his wing in the past few seasons while trying to turn them into better football players and better people.
But standing at 6-foot-5 and 260 lbs. -- are his players ever afraid of the former standout defensive end?
“Well he may be big,” Malone said while laughing. “But he’s really just a good guy.”
SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL AT A GLANCE
Head Coach: Valdamar Brower (4th season, 18-16 overall)
Last year: 9-4 (Div 1A Western Mass Runners up)
Key Returnees: Sacoy Malone, Sr. RB/DB, 5-8, 180 lbs; Quentin Jones, Sr. DL/TE, 5-10, 225 lbs; Richard Williams Sr. TE/OLB, 6-1, 205 lbs; Shawn Lockett, Jr, OL/DL, 6-1, 301 lbs; Ismael Figueroa, Jr. OL/DL, 6-0, 275 lbs.
Strengths: Athleticism, Size
Weaknesses: Experience, Passing Offense
Outlook: The Golden Eagles have a tough road in front of them. They graduated a lot of depth on both sides of the ball last year, and only return a handful of contributing seniors. The bulk of the load will be laid on Sacoy Malone’s shoulders as he tries to run them into the Western Mass. playoffs. Malone is a great back, but defenses will key in on him on most plays. There is also a battle for quarterback between Tyler Dowd and Cody Williams. Coach Brower is confident that young players will step in on defense and fill the void, but time will tell if that unit will be able to keep up with offensive forces like Minnechaug and Longmeadow.