Reed May perhaps mellowing with age


Reed May says he is a more easy-going football coach than he used to be, partly because he has three daughters and also because he is 64.

But the Brownstown Central football players he is guiding in his 28th season will probably snicker over that declaration because they have seen him angry, heard him when his words come out as dragon flames.

One day this season when he was piercing players’ eardrums with firm instruction a woman with his Joann wife in the school parking lot asked if that was his voice she heard carrying from the practice field. It was.

"When I came here," May said, "I came in with an iron fist. I think I’ve softened. These kids wouldn’t think so."

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The first words Indiana football people think of when they hear May’s name are "running game." The first words that come to his mind when asked if he has a coaching philosophy are, "We feel we’re a very disciplined football team."

The Braves don’t salute him, but they do follow commandments, if not simply commands. Brownstown is 273-54 under May, often winning 11 games in a season with a pre-season goal every year is to win the Mid-Southern Conference title and the Sectional.

Meeting 7-0 Silver Creek Friday night on the road, the 5-1 Braves will face a serious obstacle to the first aspiration.

"They’re good," May said. "They’re undefeated. They’ve never beaten us. They’ll be fired up, sky high. It’s a big challenge for us."

Brownstown Central has a certain style, for years running a Wing T and now, even if it seems old-fashioned, operating out of the single wing offense. That was originated by Glenn "Pop" Warner, a Hall of Fame innovator whose last college head coaching job was in 1938.

May says, "We’ve been here so long," meaning he and his staff, which includes one assistant for all 28 years, and others nearly as long, plus his employment of various wings.

Opponents may know what the Braves will do, but most of the time they can’t stop it. May tells his players if they follow directions and execute they should win. One reason May’s decibel level echoed in the parking lot that time was a 14-12 loss to Salem when he felt compelled to remind them of those fundamentals in practice afterwards.

"I was hard on them all week," May said. "Maybe I was too hard on them. I apologized on Friday morning (at week’s end). I know we didn’t play as well as we were capable of."

If Brownstown wants to return to basics, the Braves have their own 10 Commandments according to May, different than those Moses delivered on the stone tablets.

The short version for the Braves includes: Be A Team; Be An Eleven (higher than a 10 in behavior); a P.R.I.D.E. acronym; Work Like A Champion Today!; W.I.N. (what’s important now); No Excuses & No Regrets; Relentless Effort; Compete; Do Your Job; make Memories.

The idea is to mold men out of teenage boys.

"To become better people and better players," May said. "They learn discipline, hard work and preparation for life. The most fun is the whole player’s development."

Influenced by a coach, May said he was in 8th grade when he decided he wanted a coaching career. He played for a Bloomington South program that won 60 games in a row and then was a wide receiver for a year at Michigan State and then at the University of Arizona. He spent seven years as a college assistant coach.

May did not anticipate landing in Brownstown and staying for three decades.

"It’s a great place to raise a family," he said. "I’m blessed."

The Braves begin with the goals of winning the Jackson Bowl rivalry game against Seymour, having a winning season, winning the league crown and winning the Sectional. Brownstown beat Seymour, 43-42 in a thriller, will have a winning season, must beat Silver Creek to share the conference title, and then comes the Sectional.

Brownstown’s 3A, eight-team Sectional pairings will be announced today.

"It’s great that everybody gets in the tournament in Indiana," May said.

The traditional reward for victories involves fire trucks and fireworks.

"It is big," May said.

May is not tired of winning, Jackson Bowls, league crowns, or Sectionals. He doesn’t have hobbies like hunting, fishing or golfing and he loves coaching. His youngest girl is in third grade.

 "I can see myself coaching until she finishes high school," he said.

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