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Le Roy grad Drew Fox, Brighton football staff has Barons Believing – The Daily News Online






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BRIGHTON — The name Andrew ‘Drew’ Fox is synonymous with Le Roy Football.

Fox was a standout player and three-year starter for Brian Moran’s Oatkan Knights, who finished with an impressive 29-5 record in Fox’s three years from 2002-2004.

Playing both sides of the football as a starting fullback and linebacker, Fox played a huge role in helping Le Roy to the NYS semifinals in both 2002 and 2004, finishing 22-2 in those two years.

His senior season at Le Roy saw him post over 100 tackles on defense and rush for over 1,200 yards and 25-plus touchdowns on offense, earning AGR and All-State honors.

During his high school career, Fox earned just about every accolade there was to win.

Fox was a part of the Le Roy team that played twice at Ralph Wilson Stadium and three times at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.

While he went on to play collegiately at St. John Fisher as a fullback, Fox’s passion for the game of football continues to burn brightly even today, some 13 years later.

And Brighton High School is thankful for that.

After stepping away from the game for a few years to concentrate on some health issues, Fox knew his candle burned brighter when he was on the gridiron.

And Brighton is glad he did.

“I knew I needed it back in my life,” Fox said. “I was still in college going for my degree in math and adolescent education when I decided I needed and wanted to be a football coach. I owe a lot to Ron Plummer who is the one that got me into Brighton. I had heard that Plummer (a LeRoy native and was an assistant coach at LeRoy Fox’s senior year) was going back to Brighton to help and coach as the (offensive coordinator). He is a friend of the family so I got his number and asked if I could help out with the varsity. Thankfully, and appreciative to this day still, he accepted me and I was assisting on varsity as the linebackers and running backs coach. The next year the JV defensive coordinator left and they hired me for that position. That is the year that (Pittsford OC) Steve Lian stopped coaching and took the JV head coaching job knowing that in a year or two he was to take over the varsity as the head coach and offensive coordinator. He and I immediately clicked as we both meshed well together with our hard work ethic and our dedication and passion for football.”

During that time, while working in the Rochester City School District, Fox would find himself on the outside looking in professionally when his school was part of the phase out plan.

“I was displaced from my school and had to move back home for a few months,” Fox said. “I didn’t know what would happen with my job/career. This is when I started looking to move down south to Florida. I started e-mailing schools and coaches. I was very set on making a move since I was only about 25. I still remember the day I was in school in a free period and Lian called saying, ‘You’re coming up with me!’ My mind immediately stopped thinking of a move and only thought about the amazing opportunity I had to be a varsity defensive coordinator at such a young age and in such a fast manor.”

Fast forward seven years later and Fox has been part of a huge overhaul for a Brighton football program that made the Class A finals a year ago.

And just think, it wasn’t long ago when everyone was circling Brighton for their homecoming game.

Not any more.

Think about this for a second… From the 70’s through 2011, Brighton football had just four winning seasons, including two years in the 90’s when they couldn’t even field a team.

In the 70’s, Brighton football was a miserable 24-71-2. They didn’t fare much better the next decade as they went 26-71 in the 80’s. In the 90’s they finished 32-41.

Things totally bottomed out for the Barons in the early 2000’s as they struggled to a 20-85 record from 2000-2011, bringing a grand total of 102 wins against 268 losses during 40 years of stagnant football.

And now you can understand why Brighton was a popular opponent during an opposing team’s homecoming.

Brighton overhaul

Times have changed since Lian has taken over.

With Fox in the midst of his seventh season as Brighton’s defensive coordinator (ninth overall), the Barons have turned into a real sectional contender, most recently making the Class A title game this past fall before losing to eventual NYS runner-up Greece Athena.

Brighton made the sectional finals after beating Spencerport by 20 points and Eastridge by 14.

Incredibly, before Lian took over as head coach, Brighton had gone 8-59 the previous eight years, or a winning percentage of 0.13%.

Since 2011, Brighton has made huge strides under Lian and company going 24-22 during that span, including 8-2 this past season.

The big momentum turnaround came back in 2015 when Brighton started 0-5, losing several close games early on but rallying to win their final five games to finish 5-5.

Since being 0-5 that year, Brighton football has went 13-2 in their last 15 games with their lone two losses coming against Athena.

Not bad for a program that entered the second decade of the 2000’s with a winning percentage at .38 percent the past 40 years.

While Fox has played an intricate role in Brighton’s incredible turnaround, other assistants on Lian’s staff have also been vital including Fairport grad Mike Wayne and Mike Weimer, who Fox brought on having played ball with him at Fisher.

“The four of us really got this program started as we all know our positions and jobs very well and we all bring something special to the table,”Fox said. “We are all extremely passionate about football and love coaching. We are the only four still around from when Lian took over. Coach Wayne is the lovable guy that all the kids love. He runs a great JV program getting the kids ready for varsity and without a JV staff to do this there wouldn’t be a successful program. I kept persuading Coach Weimer to come aboard too. He finally gave in and chose Brighton and thank God because he has been a huge reason why we are where we are. He’s easily one of (if not the) best line coaches around. He came into Brighton and created his own culture. He has instilled into our linemen that it’s the most important position and it’s an honor to play on the line. A lot of kids don’t think this way usually but they took to his philosophy well. The kids took to him immediately. Everything starts at the line, if you can’t win there then you won’t win a game. His attitude and passion for line (and football) has radiated through the program.

If anyone knows the importance of an offensive line it is Fox, the former Le Roy standout running back who appreciated the hard work of his interior line throughout his career.

“Year after year (Weimer) gets these 180-pound lineman to work perfect technique to be able to go against kids twice their size and still win or at least have a chance,” Fox said of Brighton’s O-line coach. “His presence, drive, and determination as a coach goes a long way for our program.”

Ramsey aboard

Another former LCAA standout joined forces last fall as Caledonia-Mumford and Fisher graduate Sean Ramsey was a part of the blue and white staff last fall during Brighton’s most successful season in history.

Ramsey and Fox are close friends, and it is that type of chemistry that has carried over on to the playing field.

Ramsey helps Fox with the defensive unit and also coaches special teams.

“It’s not easy joining a group of coaches that had been together for years but Sean fit in real well because he brought such a passion and love for the game that we value,” Fox said. “The players love him and he loves what he does. He helped immensely in our first run to the sectional finals.”

Fox also mentioned that Jeff Cumpston, a Webster graduate, “joined our staff two years ago and has been a huge help with molding our JV players and program the way that we want. The kids love him and we love how eager he is to learn and become a better coach on a daily basis.”

Culture Change

Much like the glory days of Le Roy football, Brighton’s turnaround has been a direct result of a culture change, where losing and not giving a full effort will not be tolerated by the Barons and their coaching staff.

“When all of us coaches took over at Brighton we were all on the same path and mindset,”Fox said. “Coach Lian had a strict vision and path he wanted to take to get us to where we have since arrived. When we first took over at Brighton there was no culture, no community excitement, no true football camaraderie and program. No question that Brighton was the top team etched into schedules to be the homecoming victory. We would get blown out by teams easily and not be competitive. It’s been a long and hard journey to get where we are at.”

It took some blood, some sweat and some tears for Brighton football to become a force to be reckoned with in Section V.

“We have now gotten to a good point in Brighton and have laid a solid foundation for what we strive for in the program,” Fox said. “Our goal is to get to a yearly winning program and to be a dominant program. We had a great year last year but I’d still put us in the category of being a competitive program until we are routinely winning and getting to the finals consistently. We haven’t gotten to that point yet but we are on the right path. It’s obviously a goal for any program and it’s what we’d like to get to.”

While the wins are certainly meaningful for any program, especially one with very little tradition like Brighton entered the 2000’s with, Fox insists that its all the other intangibles that really drives a successful program.

“Putting aside the wins and losses statistics we want to develop our players to have good character and great work ethic,” Fox said. “We want them to have a successful future. I think it’s extremely important and impressive to note that we have had over 25 kids go on to play D3 football or higher (two at D1) since we took over five years ago. Before Lian was head coach there had only been seven kids that went on to play college football in a seven-year span.

It’s important to note that we aren’t all about just football and the wins and losses. We are also very focused on developing our players into high character young adults that are ready to go into the real world to tackle anything that is thrown at them. We love winning, but we love hearing about the successes our guys have after they leave our program. We want to send the guys off into the real world to help make their community and world a better place wherever that may be.”

Creating this winning culture has been a team effort. Like they say, it takes a village to raise a child. It takes an entire coaching staff working together to create a winning atmosphere.

“The main thing that has gotten us to this point is that we made a culture change — we did new everything — new coaches, a new weight room, even new uniforms and colors,” Fox said. “Coach Lian started things off by demanding a lot from the coaches. He wanted time, effort, and absolute dedication in and out of season. We are nonstop football. We never stop thinking about it or talking about it. During the football season we all put in over 30 hours when it comes to practices, film, scripts, game plans, etc. Out of season there usually isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t talk to one another about this football thing or that football thing. All of us coaches love the game of football and love every minute of coaching and that’s been very important when it comes to the success we’ve had.”

Learning from the best

There is no secret that a lot of what Fox instills into his players today, was put into him by his former coaches at Le Roy.

He loved every minute of his playing days for Coach Moran, Coach Paladino, Coach Plummer, Coach Bonacquisti and Coach Cappotelli, amongst others on the Knights’ staff.

“LeRoy obviously has a ton of tradition when it comes to football and it’s a football first community,” Fox said. “This was a huge culture change for me at Brighton because football was almost frowned upon. There wasn’t any tradition when it came to football or to winning. Anyone that knows Moran and the LeRoy coaching staff knows that it wasn’t an easy task to play for them. Their expectations were extremely high, they didn’t accept excuses. Discipline was the key to success, and they didn’t play around. I’ve, without a doubt, brought the same traits that the LeRoy coaches used into my own coaching philosophy. I think what made the LeRoy coaching staff so great was that they were diverse. They had Coach Moran who was very hard on us and you didn’t want yelling at you. They had Coach Paladino who had his own style of coaching and no one wanted to get on his bad side. Coach Bonacquisti who was the hard but fun coach. Coach Cappotelli who was the quieter one that you hated to disappoint. This is what we’ve brought to Brighton. I’m the one that doesn’t really play around and is very hard/strict with the kids, just like Moran and Paladino were with us at LeRoy. We have other coaches that exemplify one or more of the other traits. I think this is partial to our success that we’ve had up to this point. In LeRoy, the expectations were a sectional title every year and getting to the state finals. Period. If you didn’t win sectionals the year was a wash. The coaches demanded perfection, precision, and dedication. There was no in between. This is also a trait that I have brought to Brighton. Sometimes I think I’m a little too hard and demand too much from the kids. I realize no one is perfect but I push for excellence and demand perfection because they need those goals and they need to be pushed to the max.”

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