Tucker keeps Cubs finishing strong
by Brandon Miller
bmiller@annistonstar.com
Jan 25, 2013 | 3369 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ALEXANDRIA — Frank Tucker has almost made it a new Alexandria tradition: start slow, finish the season with a big bang.

After losing their season openers in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the Valley Cubs continued the consistency in 2012 with a season-opening loss to Etowah. However, unlike most of Tucker’s teams, this year’s found itself 2-3 at the midway point in the season.

“We started off slow like we’ve done the last two or three years,” Tucker said. “But our kids were really able to salvage the season and win the region championship. As far as winning the region championship, that’s very satisfying knowing the big hill that we had to climb to win it.”

The climb started after a 12-7 loss to Saks on the final Friday of September.

“(The seniors) had a little talk after the Saks game — players only —in the dressing room,” Tucker explained. “We did not change practice, we did not change preparation, we did not change weight lifting. From the coaching standpoint, we didn’t change anything.

“Our kids just kind of decided they didn’t want to lose. The changes came because of the players attitudes.”

Along with the attitude change, changes on the field were seen three days later on the practice field. The following Thursday, the change began when it mattered.

The Valley Cubs took Munford into overtime before eventually leaving with a win. The next week, Alexandria beat Cleburne County in Heflin, slowly moving toward the top of Class 4A, Region 5.

“It’s really satisfying to see that we had some young men that were going to accept losing,” Tucker said. “Some of them had been wearing that orange and black jersey since first grade and they wanted to represent it in a good way.”

With Lincoln traveling to Death Valley in week 8 with a chance to win the region, the Valley Cubs did it again. The win put Alexandria in the driver’s seat to win the region, which it did the next week by defeating Jacksonville, 28-7.

“To me, it was a relieving moment,” Tucker said about winning the region. “If you told me four weeks earlier we would be playing for the region championship and winning the region championship, I would have found that hard to believe. To be that down and out, then to be on top of the mountain, it was very satisfying.”

Now with Tucker having a region championship under his belt and the Cubs making the playoffs each year for the last decade, he simply hopes the younger players took notes of what the 2012 upperclassmen were able to do with the team.

“Hopefully the younger guys will see there isn’t much difference between not making the playoffs and winning the region,” Tucker explained. “We want to pass on the Alexandria culture to the next generation.”

Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.

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