It's been a difficult week for the Jefferson football program. Head coach Ken DuBose was fired just a few days before practice began. On the first day of practice, the school officially named Tony Ambrogio as the new coach. Ambrogio served as the offensive coordinator under DuBose last year.
"We're not going to forget what happened," Ambrogio said. "We have to move forward, turn the page so to speak and get ready for the first game."
Ambrogio saw firsthand what DuBose meant to some of the kids on the team.
"Coach DuBose was their mentor," Ambrogio said. "He was a father figure to them. For some of them, that's all they had. Now he's gone. A lot of the other coaches are going to have to step up and fill those roles. It's going to take some time."
The J-Hawks are preaching family to stay united through the turmoil.
"It's huge," senior cornerback Diaerio Austin said. "We have to stay together to succeed. We have to succeed for DuBose."
The players are taking what they learned from DuBose the past two years and applying it to the current situation.
"We're a family," senior linebacker Jacob Miles said. "We have to build off whatever [Ambrogio] has in place. Ken DuBose had a vision. Now it's time we put that vision into shape and we become one."
Jefferson became a factor in the NIC-10 last year, winning four games and losing a couple of other close ones that could have swung either way. Which means they were very close to making the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Last year's four wins followed three straight winless seasons.
"We're not sneaking up on anyone anymore," Ambrogio said. "We're going to be hunted a little bit."
After all the drama, the J-Hawks are ready to focus on football. They open the season against Harlem at Auburn's Wyeth Stadium.