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Prep Football: Thomas steps into Price's big shoes

January 23, 2013|By MARK KELLER | keller@herald-mail.com
  • Brian Thomas served as an assistant football coach under Denny Price for six years at Musselman High School. This week, he was named to succeed Price as the Applemen's head coach.
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In coaching, one of the most difficult things to do is to replace a legend.

Brian Thomas is going to give it his best shot.

The 28-year-old Berkeley County native was formally announced as the new head football coach at Musselman High School this week, replacing longtime coach Denny Price.

“I know I have big shoes to fill, that’s for sure,” Thomas said. “In my opinion, (Price) is the greatest coach in West Virginia history. To me, though, I don’t see it as replacing a legend, but more of a friend and a mentor.”

Thomas grew up in Martinsburg and graduated from Hedgesville High School. He said he knew he wanted to get into coaching when he went to Ohio Valley University, and he couldn’t wait for that time to come.

Price gave him his first opportunity — right out of college at age 22. Thomas became the head coach of the JV team, a position he held for two years before becoming a full-time member of the varsity staff.

“I was very fortunate he gave me an opportunity to coach on his staff,” Thomas said. “I remember in the interview he asked if I had any dreams of being a head coach, and I told him it was my dream.

“He taught me so much about the game, how to deal with the kids, how to conduct myself. ... I think I’m ready because of the way he prepared me.”

Thomas acknowledges to feeling some pressure in replacing Price, who won 274 games and three state titles in 40 seasons.

“There’s pressure in the fact that I really want to continue to build on the foundation that Coach Price has set,” Thomas said. “It’s all built on tradition, and I definitely do not want to lose that tradition. I’m excited for the opportunity and I look forward to staying here a long time.”

Thomas has been in charge of the weight room since December, which should help make the transition from one coach to another go more smoothly.

And while Thomas wants to carry on the traditions that Price put in place at Musselman, he won’t be afraid to put his stamp on the program.

“I think any person that takes over a job is going to do their own things. There will definitely be some things I’ll change, some styles that Coach Price would never run but I will,” Thomas said. “But I couldn’t have asked for a better situation or had a better guy to learn from.”

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