By Derrick Teagle
East Coweta basketball was really struggling in 2014. The Indians just finished its worst record in school history. The Indians’ record (2014-15) season was 1-25. The Indians’ record the previous three years wasn't much to brag about at a combined 11 victories and 62 losses.
If you go about 25 miles north of East Coweta, you will find Mundy Mills High School in Clayton County. Coach Royal Maxwell has just led the Mundy Mills Tigers into a playoff appearance with a 19-9 record. The Tigers had been in rebuild mode but were now showing a tremendous amount of success both on and off the court. At the conclusion of the 2014-15 season, East Coweta was in the search of a new basketball coach.
The Selection Process
Coach Royal Maxwell was selected as the new boys’ basketball coach at East Coweta High School. Ahmand Tinker, former assistant principal of East Coweta High School, was on the search committee. Tinker shared that Coach Maxwell had a vision and a plan to build the basketball program from the ground up … his prior success in building a program was vital.
He also had great relationships with college coaches, which would help bring exposure to student-athletes for potential academic and athletic success. All of this was vital for the rebranding of East Coweta Boys Basketball. Coach Maxwell shared in June of 2015 that "we have started our summer workouts, and the kids are really buying in."
The Rebuilding of the #NewEC
The New EC was started by changing the culture. The fundraising campaigns went to another level. The staff truly believe in the students going to camps and playing all over the South. The staff wanted the kids to look good on the court but also during pregame. The coaching staff, led by the 6-foot-6 Maxwell, always are looking "fly" as they enter the gymnasium.
The Indians struggled the first year of this process, but we all know that a process is not an overnight success story. The Indians went 5-22 the first year, which included the first initiation of the Newnan vs. East Coweta rivalry — a 45-point beatdown by the Cougars.
The next two years the rebuild was gaining momentum as The Indians went 27-25, playing in one of the toughest regions in America. The Indians’ region at one point featured four teams who were ranked in the top 20 in America, as well as so many future NBA draft selections. The region also included future state champions Wheeler and Langston Hughes.
Genna Mitchell, the mother of Sammie Moss, shared that Coach Maxwell is definitely different … as he does more than just coach; he aides in preparing the boys to become successful young men.
He truly plays the father role model to many. He is very tough and very passionate about coaching. He really develops relationships that last far beyond graduation.
Ahmand Tinker stated that Coach Maxwell’s style is very intense but calming to his players, because he focuses on the fundamentals while keeping the schemes and concepts simple so the players can use their God-given abilities without thinking. It is a true testament to his ability to understand and form relationships with his players.
The Indians, led by numerous future college players — Fermandez Jones (Region Player of the Year), Zach Hill, Rhet Reynolds, Brandon Stroud and Chris Youngblood — were on a mission. Four years after having the worst season in school history, the Indians enjoyed their best season in school history with a 24-4 record.
The Indians were now recognized as one of the best teams in Georgia. The Indians’ schedule always included some of the best teams in the nation and they would play any team at any venue. The NEW EC team was full of confidence.
The next year, once again, the Indians’ schedule was full of heavyweights in the region as well as outside of the region. The Indians, now playing without so many college signees, did not need to rebuild, but only needed to reload. Led by Kennesaw State signees Chris Youngblood and Brandon Stroud, they were a top 10 team the entire year.
The Indians beat crosstown rivals Newnan for the eighth consecutive time and finished the year with 19 victories.
This season, the Indians lost two of the best players in the nation, Stroud and Youngblood, but it will NOT be a rebuild. Led by future college signees, the team will play a demanding schedule and will be a handful for anyone to beat in the playoffs.
When I see East Coweta get off the bus or enter a gym, I quickly notice the confidence from the staff to the players. I honestly can tell the unity in the program from the dance team, which is one of the best in Georgia, to everyone associated with the program.
The #NewEC will never rebuild again as the foundation was laid to RELOAD every year.