Highlands Alum Hopes to Build Campbell County Program 'Brick by Brick'
Brian Weinrich more than acknowledged his new head coaching position appeared to be fate.
Weinrich's daughter Kenzie graduated from Highlands this past spring and is a freshman at the University of Louisville. Weinrich and his wife Ashley began looking for a place to build a house in rural Campbell County in January of 2021. He said it took a while for the house to be built because of the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic. But the house closed in October, 2021.
Two months later, the head coaching job at Campbell County came open. He applied and the administration named him the head coach of the Camels on Monday.
"I've always been a Campbell County guy. I went to elementary school in Campbell County," Weinrich said. "I had a lot of good friends I went to school with that ended up out of Campbell County. When I drove this way, I could feel at home. We really enjoy it out here. When we started having conversations with the people in Campbell County, it just felt as right as it could feel. Everything seemed to fall into place."
The Camels play in Class 6A, District 6. That is the largest class in Kentucky. Weinrich said the area is growing so much that the school will have large freshmen classes this year and next year.
"Brian Weinrich is an outstanding football coach, teacher and role model for our athletes and students," said Adam Ritter, Campbell County Principal. "Coach Weinrich's work ethic and discipline will provide an environment of success. He will hold our student-athletes to high standards. We are excited to welcome Brian Weinrich and his family to Campbell County."
|Twitter Photo. New Campbell County Head Coach Brian Weinrich addresses the returning players after being announced Monday.|
The biggest thing noticeable about Campbell County High is how much the community and other donors have put into the facilities over the years. The Camels have played their home football games at the current Campbell County High School Stadium since 2013.
Weinrich spent the 2021 season as the head coach at Newport High. The Wildcats finished 3-8 losing 58-8 at eventual Class 2A state champion Beechwood in the first round of the playoffs. Weinrich still plans to stay on the support staff at Newport High through the end of the school year.
"There were a lot of things that were accomplished that aren't on the scoreboard," Weinrich said. "At the end of the season, we were playing several freshmen. There were other obstacles that were getting in the way. But the guys worked hard. I'm excited for their future. I really am. We really developed some deep bonds. I think they're going to be in good hands and move forward. There are a lot of good, young guys in the building. They're getting ready to step up."
"If we're honest with ourselves, we would look in the mirror and say, 'I wish I could have done that even if it is just a little bit better," Weinrich said. "Not that you made a mistake. But everybody can figure out something that they can do better. I, like everyone else, tries to reflect, grow and learn from experience. It doesn't always have to be a mistake that you learn from, learn from other people and learn from other peoples' experiences. You try to grow in everything that you do each day. With that being said, there are a lot of things whether it's the way you stretch as a team, the way you collect equipment, the way you address the team, the way you have an installation of your offense. Whatever it is, you try to reflect and figure it out."
Weinrich pointed out it's what University of Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart and staff are doing currently. That's even though the Bulldogs won their first national championship since 1980 with a 33-18 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday.
Weinrich served as an assistant at Highlands under legendary Head Coach Dale Mueller from 1995 to 2013 taking over as Defensive Coordinator in 2002. Mueller credited Weinrich for being as huge a part of the 11 state championships during that time as anyone.
"I am really excited for him and for the students at Campbell County," Mueller said. "I think he will do a great job. I know he's an outstanding football coach and a wonderful person. Without a doubt with all the football knowledge and input, I wouldn't make any decision without talking to him about it."
Weinrich does not need to be told of the challenges in front of him in Alexandria. The Camels finished 10-31 under the previous head coach in Mike Woolf including a rough 4-26 the previous three seasons.
"Our Motto is 'Brick by Brick," Weinrich said. "That's the only way we can do it. We're going to try to have a great day today, a great day tomorrow and move forward. It's been amazing whether it's been administration, the AD (Steve Hensley), the players or the assistant coaches. It's just been such a welcoming group of people. They've come in and have absolutely been getting after it. The excitement and the energy is through the roof."
The Camels bested county rival Newport Central Catholic 21-0 to open the 2021 season before losing 10 in a row. The Ryle Raiders eliminated the Camels, 35-7 in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
But the Camels did enjoy four winning seasons in seven years under former Head Coach Stephen Lickert between 2011 and 2017. Campbell County made it to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs in all but two seasons during that time. The Camels also won their first two district championships in 2011 and 2012 since 1980 under Lickert. Lickert is currently the head coach at Newport Central Catholic.
Every team in District 6 will have a new head coach this fall with the exception of Ryle. Mike Engler will be entering his ninth season with the Raiders this fall. Ryle won the district last year and drove to the third round of the Class 6A playoffs before losing 38-18 to 6A power Louisville Trinity.
Weinrich said he's focused on putting together a coaching staff and making sure everyone is on the same page in terms of where the program is going and how it's going to get there. He knows it is important to build a staff with different personalities. One coach may be great at the details of the game and another might be strong at motivating the players.
"I feel pretty fortunate to have stepped into a great situation," Weinrich said. "The (assistant coaches) that were there completely stepped up on their own in December and got a weight program going. They're all about the players first. They're not worried about all the decisions that have to be made. When things became official and I jumped in, I was overly impressed with what the guys had done. It is organized. So far, these two days in the off-season have been phenomenal. To know there are this many guys that care this much is unbelievable and that doesn't happen everywhere."
Highlands ran the 3-5 defense and variations of the Spread offense in his final four season as head coach between 2017 and 2020. He's not sure what the base offenses and defenses will be at Campbell County until he figures some other things out. The Camels primarily tried to run between the tackles offensively in recent years.
The Camels will have spring practice in April after Spring Break. Weinrich said the dates had to be set by Dec. 15 of last year.
The 1990 Highlands alum led the Bluebirds to the Class 3A state championship in 1989 in a 7-3 victory over Paducah Tilghman. Weinrich played defensive back and wide receiver for the Bluebirds. He had three catches for 36 yards in that game.