BRADEN RIVER — In the days leading up to the start of spring practice, Braden River High offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ed Volz knew he was going to have to make some adjustments if he wanted to keep his players focused.
Only it wasn’t until the day before spring practice was scheduled to begin that Volz and the rest of the Pirates coaching staff learned of what would become the team’s biggest adjustment of all. On April 30, Volz was named the Pirates interim head coach after the resignation of Josh Hunter.
And as the first official day of spring practice got underway, Volz assumed the reigns of a four-year-old program that was now dealing with the loss of two of its beloved coaches — one who had built the program from the ground up and the other whose fun-loving spirit continues to live on in the hearts and minds of his players.
It’s been exactly two months since the Pirates lost defensive line coach Doug Garrity, who died in a car accident March 21, and as the news surfaced, the Pirates came together to mourn. They came together to heal.
And now the Pirates are coming together once again — this time to grow.
“That’s the beauty of football — it requires 100% of your attention,” Volz said. “I think it’s therapeutic.”
A native of Long Island, N.Y., Volz joined the Pirates’ sideline last season. With the addition of Volz and defensive coordinator Mark Rupprecht, the Pirates put together their best season in school history. Braden River posted an 8-4 record and earned their first playoff berth, which they later followed up with an upset of Palmetto in the first round of the Class 3A-Region 3 playoffs.
“Really, a lot of it had to do with Josh Hunter,” Volz said. “Josh Hunter did a great job establishing a program focused on creating tough, strong and disciplined kids. It was sort of the perfect marriage because we brought the college experience and the schematic knowledge.
“He was doing in our eyes what needs to be done,” he added.
Volz began playing football with Rupprecht when he was 6 years old. The lifelong friends grew up playing football and both starred on their high school team, with Volz controlling the offense from under center.
Volz took a break from football to play baseball at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. But upon graduating in 1995 with a degree in education, Volz returned to his first passion, studying at Hofstra University before accepting an offensive coaching position at Iona College.
He then went on to coach at Stoney Brook University in New York before moving to Florida and rejoining Rupprecht on the sidelines at Sarasota High in 2002. The two coached the Sailors for four years before assuming the offensive and defensive coordinator positions at Braden River last season.
“It was time for a change, and we both live close to Braden River,” Volz said. “It’s nice to be a part of this community. It’s a great place, and it’s really been a fantastic fit since we’ve been here.”
It’s been nearly three weeks since Volz was named the Pirates’ interim head coach, and although no decisions have been made about the future, he is prepared to carry on the tradition that Hunter began four years ago.
“There’s a culture here and an expectation of what the football program represents,” Volz said. “Right now, I’m just here to steady the ship. You just do the job that needs to be done for this school and these kids because they need the job to be done the right way.”
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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