Eagles’ head coach discusses upcoming season

Monty Gray is excited to see what his young team can do on the court this season.

Eagles’ head coach discusses upcoming season
November 17
13:47 2021

Taking over a program during a pandemic was tough for Monty Gray at East Forsyth. The Eagles finished last season with a 7-5 record overall and with so many players returning from last year, the future looks bright for Gray and the Eagles.

In year two, Gray is hoping for progress from his team from last season. The Eagles were very young with a host of sophomores on the roster. With another year of experience and a successful offseason, Gray is hoping to see a lot of growth on the court.

“I envision us to definitely improve from last year,” said Gray. “We had a young team of sophomores that showed a lot of promise. We were 7-5 last year dealing with the COVID protocols.

“We had a really good summer where we went 18-4. We played 22 games in about 17 days, so we feel good about where we are right about now. It is very early and we still have some pieces out there on the football field doing their thing right now. We are supporting them right now and encouraging them to do the best they can.”

As of now, Gray only has one senior on the roster, so he has a wealth of younger talent to mold on his team. The Eagles also had a solid JV team last year and a few of those players will be moving up to fill holes on the varsity roster.

“We have about 11 guys out there now that we are practicing with every day,” he said. “Just trying to get a good feel about where we are, we are trying to figure out what our identity is moving forward. I feel really good where we are right now.”

Gray says he and his staff have been putting in countless hours with their team during this offseason to prep them for the year.

“This year, we’re putting in the work,” he said. “We started early with our guys doing volunteer workouts and in the weight room, so that kind of gives me the ability to build a better relationship with our guys and find out who’s really committed and serious about getting better.

“It’s been helpful for us. Being in that weight room, being on the track and those hills and doing our skill development, that lets me know who’s ready to put in that work. It’s been helpful for us to progress and get better for us moving forward.”

Gray is shooting to become one of the top two teams in the conference. He feels you have to continue raising the bar, especially because his team fared so well in the summer.

“Last year when I was asked this question, I wanted to be in the top three and this year we want to be a top two team in our conference,” he said about his team goals. “With Mt. Tabor and Parkland coming to our conference, it’s going to be a fight every single night so that’s what would constitute a good season for us.

“We want our guys to get out there and play well, we want them to get some accolades, we want them to be able to do it as a team,” he continued. “We want to do well in the Frank Spencer of course, and we want to do well in our conference play and hopefully go deep into states. Hopefully, be just as successful as our football team right now.”

Gray says his team will not be a one man show. He says the Eagles are a deep team that plays well together. He does expect players such as Will Gray, Braxton Stewart, Jaylen Raynor, Matt Joines and Tim Davis to provide some veteran leadership. There are also a couple of young players moving up from JV such as David Gray, Ben Miller and Robbie Stevenson, that Gray expects to contribute.

For the Eagles, the guards will carry a bulk of the load for the team. Gray says they are deep at both guard positions and they should lead the team. “Definitely for us, it’s going to be our guard play,” he said about his team. “I know big men don’t like me to say this, but it’s a guard’s game. They have to be able to handle the control of the game. If we can play our game and play it at our tempo, it’s going to be beneficial for us.”

Gray is a 1992 graduate of East Forsyth and says it will mean a great deal to bring home a state championship. The hard work to get to that position is something Gray is prepared for and is doing all that he can to get his team there as well.

“That’s the top of the top for any high school coach,” Gray said about winning a state championship. “It would be awesome, but I know one of the things you must do in order to reach that goal is to have a good foundation, you have to be consistent, you have to have buy-in from not just the players, but the community and school itself. It would be colossal for us. I am a realist and I know you have to have quality players as well.”

Gray gave a lot of credit to the hard work his coaches have put in since he took over at East Forsyth. He wanted to give special mention to his newest assistant coach, Joe Coulter. Gray says Coulter has been a big benefit to the Eagle program thus far.

“I was an assistant coach for Andy Muse for eight years and he always told the other coaches that you have to put good people around you and that’s exactly what I do,” Gray said about his assistant coaches. “I try to put good people around me and try to let them know that anything I ask of them is something I would do myself.  

“We are all in the same trenches together, all fighting, and have one common goal. So, it’s not just about me, I am just one coach. I try to make sure my coaches have the opportunity to coach, because one day they are going to have their own program and they need to learn the ropes. We try to let our guys do what they can to get better.”

To keep his guys levelheaded, Gray aims to keep his team focused on taking the smaller steps to get to the level they want to reach. That is the reason why he was not surprised by how well his team performed over the summer.  

“We have ways as coaches to bring them back to reality and I try to be honest and real with them as well,” he said. “I don’t necessarily tell them what they want to hear, I tell them what they need to hear, and hopefully that will motivate them to kind of keep things in check in terms of dealing with success.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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