Oak Mountain ready to continue success with Floyd and a new group of seniors

Published 5:13 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2022

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – It may be a new era for the Oak Mountain Eagles heading into the 2022-2023 season following the retirement of long-time head coach Chris Love in the offseason and the departure of nine seniors, but the expectation is to continue the standard set the last three years.

That standard includes three consecutive trips to the Elite Eight, two Final Four appearances and the school’s first state championship. 

“We’re very excited about the future here and this season,” first-year head coach Joel Floyd said. “We have a strong senior class with seven seniors this year, which we had nine graduate last year, but this is a great group of guys with a lot of multi-sport kids.”

It marks Floyd’s jump back into the head coach ranks after serving as an assistant at Spain Park the last two years following a successful stint at Pelham High School.

“I’ve learned as an assistant to try and think about things more than wins and losses,” Floyd said. “One of my jobs at Spain Park was to focus more on things off the court, character development and stuff like that. I’ll learn from that experience. Coaching volleyball as well was a huge benefit. One, coaching girls, but two coaching a sport I didn’t have as much knowledge about and coaching the mind and energy part of it.”

Floyd said he is excited to blend what he has learned with the successful aspects he used as a head coach at Pelham.

Three of this year’s senior leaders include Matthew Heiberger, Tre Thomas and Devan Moss, who now hope to create their own legacy after last year’s graduating class put together three historic years.

“We have to go get better every day,” Heiberger said. “Compete, compete, compete. We have to do that every day and that will get us to our goal. We have gotten closer as a team. We’ve slowly gotten closer and closer with each other, which has been a good thing for the team.”

Heiberger finished last season averaging nine points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block per game. This season, he will be a key leader for the Eagles in helping reach their goals.

Beyond him, Thomas and Moss are two returnees who played at times last year that will step into more important roles this season as well.

“There has been a ton of success the last few years,” Floyd said. “It’s almost unparalleled what last year’s senior class did the last few years. Final Four, championship. Elite Eight. That’s a lot to live up to, but this group is hungry to go out and continue that tradition. The standard is still that high bar.”

That’s something Thomas said is motivating him and the rest of this year’s senior class to come together.

“Losing those seniors, they were good, but we can follow behind them and still make a difference,” he said. “We’ve gotten closer on and off the court as a senior class. That will help us.”

A positive along with the returning seniors is depth.

Floyd said they have 13 players they can run in there at any point in time, including Emmanuel Johnson, Kevin Jasinsky and Grey Williams who will all be juniors expected to have increased roles on varsity after playing on the junior varsity team last year.

“I’ve been impressed with buy in and the work ethic,” Floyd said. “We’ve been working extremely hard. Everything is new for them. We’re installing a whole new system offensively and defensively and we’re still working through that. I can see day by day in practice the strides we are making and the improvement. As we continue to figure that out, we’ll become a really good team. Some really good things can come from it.”