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Lizi Arbogast / The Herald Edgewood football players have their first day of official practice Thursday.

In one of the most memorable games of the 2019 AISA football season, Chad Michael was standing on the opposite sideline of Edgewood, going toe to toe with the Wildcats’ offense in a double overtime game. Michael was serving as the offensive coordinator for Macon-East at the time but now he’s turning is the red and blue for Edgewood’s green and gold.

Michael has taken over as the new athletic director and head football coach with the Wildcats, less than six weeks from the season opener against Southern Academy. 

“I was very happy and content with my job at Macon-East,” Michael said. “I loved it there. But when the opportunity for the Edgewood job comes open, you have to be interested. This is a top-five job in AISA.”

Michael accepted the position last Tuesday morning and immediately got to work for the Wildcats. After saying goodbye to his players at Macon-East, Michael was at Edgewood leading his first practice that night.

With limited time to prepare for the new season, Michael said he will be relying a lot on the leaders within the program already to help with the transition.

“First, I have to try to learn their names as quickly as possible,” Michael said. “I have to lean on my assistant coaches and they have had tons of success here. I have to let them help guide me through this whole thing. We can’t go too fast but we have to learn as much as we can in a short amount of time.”

In that short amount of time, Michael will be focused on getting his own systems and schemes into practice but he wants to make it as easy as he can for the players to adjust.

“It’s easier for me to learn their terminology than change everything up,” Michael said. “I may tweak some things here and there that may fit. We have six weeks until Game 1 and I think that’s enough time to get the bases covered.”

Michael said he is confident in the players returning to Edgewood next season and he knows the transition can go smoothly.

“They’ve got a great senior class coming back,” Michael said. “They have been playing varsity since eighth and ninth grade. They are tremendous kids and tremendous athletes. You can see the competitiveness in them. They are very talented.”

Edgewood has won a total of 17 games the last two seasons, making two semifinal appearances in the AISA-AA state playoffs. Michael is hoping to build off that recent success while also putting his own stamp on the program as soon as possible.

“You have to be who you are as an individual,” Michael said. “Coach (Darryl) Free did a great job with the football team and within the athletic department. You want to carry that momentum but also put your own spin on things as a coach and put your personality into it.”

Michael has set high goals for the Wildcats already which go a step beyond what they have accomplished the last two seasons. The new coach is hoping to get back on top of the region this year which may be more in reach now with Autauga moving up a classification and out of Edgewood’s region.

“That’s your goal every year as a football player and a coach,” Michael said. “If that’s not your goal when you step out on the field, you may should be doing something else.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.