BASSETT, Va. – Bassett High School bid farewell to longtime coach Jay Gilbert after 13 years at the helm and 29 years of coaching overall. Brandon Johnson stepped in this spring. The young talent was most recently a defensive backs coach at nearby Magna Vista High School during back-to-back state title runs, and also the eighth grade coach at Laurel Park middle school. Johnson is a 2006 Bassett graduate who played on a a pair of 9-3 teams in '04 and '05.
He inherits 14 seniors who endured a 1-9 season so the focus is about his experienced players helping his team to improve every day, not necessarily about the schedule they face, or the team's final record.
"It means a lot just knowing he played for the same team I'm playing for now and he's coaching us. And just knowing he knows the Bassett spirit - he's been here before, he played on this field and practiced on this field that we practicing on now. It means a lot to know somebody's there in your corner," senior Tailback Seven Ziegler said.
"One thing I found from these kids is they don't care who we play. It's been about them all year just to challenge to get better. They have a bad taste in their mouth going 1-9, they don't like that. Being from Bassett I was always a Bassett fan. Coaching against Bassett I still I wanted them to go 9-1 I tell everybody that. But the difference is-- are you willing to put in that work? And I've seen the work this summer and I really feel it's gonna pay off," Johnson said.
The Bengals open the season when they host Rustburg on Aug. 25.