Football players at Albemarle High School admit they weren't sure what to expect from new coach Brandon Isaiah. But it hasn't taken them long to buy in.
"We took him in, under our wing, not knowing what he was about," senior Quordel Carter said the Patriots' Friday morning practice. "The first couple of days we got to know him, and now we're like a family."
After close to a decade serving as an assistant coach at three different local schools, Isaiah was hired to succeed the departing Mike Alley at AHS in April. It's Isaiah's first head-coaching opportunity.
The Patriots opened camp on Thursday.
"Football, coaching-wise, you have to be patient. Any time you're starting new," Isaiah said Friday. "I think I'm lucky enough to have talented players here, kids with a lot of potential. For me, mostly it's just getting those guys to be confident in themselves, and confident in the plan."
Isaiah inherited an AHS team that went 6-4 a season ago, and reached the postseason for the first time in a decade.
"We've been talking about the actual process, and telling the kids to just really trust us, and just believe in the process that we're getting ready to take them through," he said. "And on the back end of that, their talent will take over."
And it hasn't taken Isaiah's players long to learn that their new coach means business.
"I mean, he has two different personalities," said Carter. "Off the field, he likes to joke around a little bit, and he's a fun guy. But on the field, he's definitely wanting to win."
"Yeah, he's a funny guy, but he's a very serious coach," said senior Kevin McCarthy, "He wants everything to be perfect, on and off the field. He wants us to be great men, on and off the field."
Isaiah began his coaching career as an assistant at AHS following the end of his playing career at Virginia in 2004. Now he admits he's trying to savor his first few days on the field as a head coach.
"As much as you plan and prepare, that first moment when you come out here and see all these kids. And once we get all of them into Albemarle shirts," he said. "You watch and you understand that these kids are part of your program. And it's truly a humbling experience. But I'm just really trying to enjoy every second of it, because I know it moves really fast."