PLYMOUTH – Plymouth’s Rockies have continued some constants in their program with a big group of former players returning to the sideline later as coaches.
A 2007 graduate of Plymouth High School Brent Corbett took his accomplishments to Taylor University and came home to take a place on John Barron’s staff where he is today. He’s also an assistant for Ryan Wolfe in the Pilgrim baseball program, another sport that Brent excelled in during high school.
Corbett was an all-state player at safety his junior and senior year and was also a running back his junior and senior year the 2005-06 seasons.
“I played a lot of soccer until I got old enough to play in the (Marshall County Junior Football League) MCJFL and I loved it,” he said. “Dan King was our coach and Michael Hooker was on that team with me. From there I started at the junior high and never looked back.”
Like a lot of young men, Corbett had a lot of “energy” and football was a way to use that in a positive direction.
“I guess I liked the aggression,” he said. “Football was a way to hit somebody and not get in trouble. You were able to release a lot of energy in a positive way and that was a good thing.”
“As I got older I loved the strategy of the game,” he said. “It’s not always the strongest guy who wins. A lot of times the team with more will or heart comes out on top.”
Corbett’s freshman year was the final season of Tom Condon’s tenure as head coach. His sophomore season was the first for current boss John Barron.
“I loved playing for him,” said Corbett. “He wanted to win, he was fiery, he motivated you to work hard.”
Condon ended with an 8-4 season Corbett’s freshman year. Barron’s first campaign was also 8-4 and then in Brent’s junior season the Rockies went unbeaten in the regular season but fell to Concord in the sectional final ending 11-1.
“We had a great bunch of guys on that team,” said Corbett. “Mark Adams and Tom Flynn were the leaders of that group. It was kind of the perfect mixture of really talented guys and really hard workers. We played East Noble in the semi-final and our quarterback Chad Clinton got hurt, a collapsed lung, in the second quarter. Tom who was our center went down with an ACL the same game.”
“Somehow – I don’t know how – Chad was able to play the next week,” he said. “We just got down too quick to Concord and then couldn’t get back.”
“In my four years three of the four teams that beat us lost their next game in the state championship game,” he said. “That’s kind of like the NLC too. I think I was most proud of winning the NLC my junior year, it was the first time since 1977. I always make it clear to my players now that in my high school career we never lost to Warsaw, but my brother in law (Kevin Garrity) likes to bring it up to me that he never lost to Concord and that’s something that we only did once.”
Taylor University was the next stop for Corbett with a career that started at safety and ended at linebacker.
“I played my first two years at safety and then my junior year we got some transfers that were a lot more talented than I was,” he said. “We were a little short at linebacker so I asked to move up and my coach said if I could gain 20 pounds he’d take a look at me. I gained the 20 pounds and I played there for the next two years.”
“My wife likes to give me a hard time about a strange stat,” said Corbett. “I was probably third or fourth in career interceptions (at Taylor). I never had one at home. They were all on the road.”
It was at Taylor he also made contacts that would help in his current position.
“It was definitely a lot of fun to play against guys from all over the country,” he said. “I loved being able to see other teams and see the things they are doing in their programs. You make some connections that now I can call and ask ‘Hey, how did you guys do this?’ and get information that you can use in your program.”
After the college days were over Corbett returned to his home town and reconnected with some old friends.
“I really wasn’t doing anything in the fall and winter and I think I was at Houston Hodges graduation party and I saw coach Barron,” he said. “I went over and told him if he wanted I’d be happy to come back and help them any way I can. I’ve been on staff ever since.”
Corbett started with the special teams and helping then assistant Ted Brown with position coaching the linebackers. He has since moved on to be the position coach for the safeties in the Plymouth program.
“I still do some special teams stuff too,” he said. “I love it. It’s an aspect of the game that hardly anybody ever thinks about but many times that’s what wins or loses you a game.”
As one of the “young guys” on the staff does he think he’s “good coach” or “bad coach” in the psychological makeup of a coaching staff?
“I like to think I’m the fun coach,” he said. “But I guess that depends on who you ask. I know I’ve broken more than a few fingers, (throwing warm-up passes in practice drills) but I don’t mean to. I guess I just don’t know my own strength. I’m not afraid to get on my guys when I need to but I try to make it fun just like it was when I was a player.”
“Working for John is great,” he said. “He has always listened to his players if they have an idea, and he’s encouraged all of us (position coaches) to take ownership of our position. It’s refreshing that if we have an idea he wants to hear it. He may say ‘no we’re going to do it my way,’ but he allows you to have that input.”
The commitment to coaching is a big one in terms of time and effort. With a family of his own now, Corbett still feels that his contribution to the football and baseball programs is important.
“My coaches were some of the greatest father figures I had in my life and this is a way to give back some of what the sport gave me,” said Corbett. “You have something in common with your players and you might be able to actually save a kids life just by listening to them. They may be going through something that they really don’t know how to talk to somebody about and listening could be that thing that makes a difference.”