Phil Campbell, Vina to play in spring football game

By Bart Moss / For the FCT

Two programs looking for a turnaround. Two coaches looking to put their stamp on a football program. Both will square off Tuesday in a spring football jamboree at Vina High School.

Kevin Barnwell was just hired to take the helm of the Phil Campbell football program. Barnwell, still teaching at Russellville, has been working after school and weekends to get things ready for spring training.

Jason Harris will be entering his second year as the head coach at Vina High School. After a rough first year, Harris said he sees the seeds planted last year starting to take root in the program.

“We have over 40 guys out this spring, junior high and varsity,” said Harris. “It’s exciting to see the enthusiasm and positive energy these kids are showing.”

Barnwell is liking what he is seeing too.

“It’s difficult not being at the school right now,” said Barnwell. “But I can’t say enough about the assistant coaches and the help they are providing right now. They have bought in to what we want to do as a program, and they have been great.”

Barnwell said he wants to see the same commitment and energy from players and parents to build a consistent winning program at Phil Campbell.

“The very first thing we are going to have to establish is commitment from players, parents and everyone involved in the program,” said Barwell. “I want to find out who is willing to do what it takes to win – who is willing to put in the hard work it takes to be a winner.

“It takes accountability from all involved,” Barnwell added. “It’s not going to happen overnight. There is a process, and we have work hard and be patient.”

Harris knows firsthand it’s hard to turn a program around overnight. The Red Devils didn’t post a win last year but did show signs of improvement. “We have had a lot of kids step up and be leaders this year,” said Harris. “It has made a big difference. They are excited, and there is some pep in their step.”

Harris said he is using spring training to focus on team unity and character. “If we can come together as a team in the spring, it will carry over to the fall.”

To emphasize his focus, Harris has brought in some guest motivators to talk to his team this spring.

“We have a different theme each week,” explained Harris. “One week it was about having a positive attitude, and I had my old high school football coach, Mike Tice, come talk to the team. Last week it was about self-discipline, and we had Lanny Norris, a former national championship player at Alabama, speak to the guys.”

Both teams aim to get off to a positive start with their spring training game.

The jamboree will be at Vina High School May 14, beginning at 6 p.m. with a two quarter JV game between Vina and Hatton. At 6:30 p.m. Vina and Hatton will play one quarter, followed by Hatton and Phil Campbell at 7 p.m. Vina and Phil Campbell will play one quarter at 7:30 p.m.

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