Longhorns make coaching change ahead of 2015 opener

Barham family

Barham family

With its season set to kick off Friday against perennial power Bessemer, Marengo Academy is making one final adjustment to its coaching staff as new headmaster David Barham takes over the program.

The Longhorns saw Robby James retire at the end of the 2014 season before turning to former James disciple Gary Caldwell. That tenure ended unceremoniously earlier this summer when Caldwell resigned as headmaster and athletic director after having been asked to focus primarily on his academic and administrative duties in his first year.

Marengo then turned to Webb Tutt, the team’s defensive coordinator. Tutt continued to guide the program through the duration of the summer but opted last week to hand the reins over to Barham, the new headmaster who arrived from Texas earlier this month.

“The kids have been through a lot with coaching changes. Webb was trying to do it out of Demopolis with running a business,” Barham said of the logic behind the transition. “The challenge is the timing of it all. We’re running with what we’ve been doing. We’ll make the best of it. It’s a great group of kids.”

Barham served previously as a head coach at Trinity Christian Academy (Tenn.), Westminster Christian Academy (La.), Christian Life Academy (La.), Woodlawn High School (La.) and Acadiana Prep (La.) before taking an assistant job at Blinn Junior College (Texas).

Barham’s previous stops have seen him have a tendency toward the I-Formation and a run-first offense. However, the lack of time before Bessemer comes calling Friday leaves Barham and the Longhorns sticking to Tutt’s Spread system.

image1“There’s just not time to come in and put a new system in,” Barham said. “I’m adaptable. I’ve coached enough places to know I’ve about seen it all. Defensively, (Tutt will) continue to do what he’s doing. He’ll let me tweak it a little bit on the back end. Football, at the end of the day, still comes down to blocking and tackling.”

Both those tasks will prove difficult enough Friday against a Bessemer squad that debuted at No. 2 in the 2015 Alabama Sports Writers Association poll.

“They’re so athletic,” Tutt said of the weapons that litter the Bessemer lineup. “The running back is real quick. Their quarterback is a field general. I don’t think he can beat us with his feet, but with his arm and his knowledge. Their skill people are so good and their big on the offensive line. Their right tackle is huge and the left tackle is about 6-5. We better play low and keep our leverage.”

Barham is new to the AISA, but he has seen enough film on Bessemer to understand the challenge that awaits his new team Friday.

“Athleticism. The skill people. Their depth,” Barham said of what stands out to him on film. “The challenge is to try to keep them from out-athleting you and making too many big plays on you. Can we control the ball enough offensively to help the defense out?”

“They can go, probably, 15 or 16 on each side of the ball. They might play a few people that they can play both ways if they get in a crunch,” Tutt said. “It’s a numbers game. Ours are going to have to play both ways. That’s just the way it is.”

Marengo Academy and Bessemer kick at 7 p.m. Friday in Linden.