As coach, Holcomb a vital part of Indians' success
CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. — On a cold practice field behind Cambridge Central School on Wednesday, the first-team defense for the Indians is getting a workout.
On the offensive side are the backups — the scout team, as it were — trying their best to give a comparable look at Cambridge's opponent in Friday's Class C Super Bowl, Stillwater.
Leading that charge is a 19-year-old unpaid volunteer coach, who by virtue of his family has been around Cambridge football almost quite literally his entire life.
Brendan Holcomb, a 2017 Cambridge graduate, has been a vital part of head coach Doug Luke's coaching staff this season, part of the reason they have gone 9-1 this season.
"He fits right in, he has the personality and the knowledge," Luke said. "It was a perfect fit."
Luke said that Holcomb coaching this year wasn't planned, it just kind of manifested itself.
"He wasn't going to be here, he was at Ithaca (College), but he came back last winter and coached modified basketball and track for us," Luke said. "As the summer went on, he was always there and I asked him if he wanted to coach [football] and he said he did."
Holcomb, who turns 20 on Nov. 14, has had a very busy fall. He's going to school at Hudson Valley Community College, he's got his own lawncare business and as a coach as well.
"I'm working to become a gym teacher here and I'm also making some money to pay for school to set my self up for the future," Holcomb said.
Holcomb's main job is working with the scout team, but he also breaks down film and scouts Cambridge's opponents, among other things.
"He helped some last year breaking down the film with us, he did as much to scout us as other teams," Luke said. "We'd go to a game on Friday night and he'd be in the back seat breaking down the game already. He wants to be involved and he's good at what he does, he's going to be a hell of a coach when he gets older."
This year, he studies film and draws out the plays and blocking scheme for the scout team to run.
"I try to pick the best 11 that aren't starting and put our defense in situations they aren't comfortable with and see if I can expose them," Holcomb said. "We keep it loose, and try to score on every play, because then we can see where they need to improve."
One bonus is that Holcomb is only two years older than the seniors on this year's version of the Indians, so he's been a teammate to many.
"I worked with some of the JV last year and being close to the guys and playing with them, I know what's going on," Holcomb said. "I can work with them and I know how they're feeling. I'm still close with them, so I can bridge the gap."
Luke said that Holcomb is one of a handful of recent ex-players that have helped out with the peewee program as well.
"Ethan English, Chris Warnke, Caleb Rowland, there's several guys," Luke said. "Our goal is to get as many that were involved with the program back as possible. Every coach that helps with football, I've coached."
Holcomb said that Cambridge football has been a part of his life from the very beginning, when his family brought him to the 1999 state championship game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse when he was not even a month old.
"I was brought up on football, as I got older football here was everything," Holcomb said. "I saw the difference at Ithaca, nowhere else compares to it. I think getting into coaching here was just something I'm supposed to do."
And Holcomb is glad for the opportunity to help lead the 2019 Indians to another Super Bowl victory.
"There's not many 19 year olds with as much on their shoulders as a coach," Holcomb said. "I was just part of it in the beginning, giving my two cents, I'm glad I had a good high school career and that I could come back so soon."
Holcomb and the Indians will face Stillwater at 7 p.m. Friday at Lansingburgh High School for the Class C championship.
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