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Hopkins bounces back to lead 2014-15 Cougars

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Basketball Munford Cougars

Butch Hopkins has enjoyed good times at Munford High School. The veteran coach’s first two seasons with the Cougars had yielded District 13-3A championships and appearances in the Region 7-3A Tournament.
But the starting five from last year’s championship team are all gone. Munford graduated four seniors and point guard Reggie Holmes transferred to Covington.
“We don’t have a single player who has ever played in a high school game,” Hopkins acknowledged. “16 of our 22 guys have never played in middle school. Starting all over is quite not the phrase for it. We’ve lost 15 guys from the previous two years, 8 from the season before and 7 last year.”
The learning curve for the current group of Cougars was made even more difficult.
“The other thing that really hurts is this summer,” Hopkins said. “The things I usually do in the summer I wasn’t able to do because I had open heart surgery. I tried to die on the operating table in the hospital at Vanderbilt.”
Hopkins had to fight to survive during his surgery. He was overwhelmed when the school asked him back for another season.
Ready to give his heart to the game and the young Cougars, Hopkins walks around the MHS Gymnasium with a reminder of his summer of survival wrapped around his chest.
“This is what I have do to everyday just to come to practice,” Hopkins said displaying his bandage. “I was not able to work with them this summer. I do an awful lot of work in the summertime and they do work.
“We weren’t able to go to camp or anything,” he added. “I was on life-support for five days. It was kind of a rough summer. I got released 5 weeks ago.”
The hole in his heart and two heart valves are fixed. Now Hopkins is ready to work with his new team for the 2014-15 season.
“I’m able to see my kids now and work with them,” he said. “This is a special season already because I’m here.
“This is probably the most fun bunch I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Hopkins continued. “They work hard. They’re getting better. We’ve got a mountain to climb. When I look at the schedule, there isn’t a game on there that we’ll be favored. So if we win one, we’ll have a big celebration.”
Munford’s roster is composed mostly of sophomores and juniors. Hopkins said they will need time to learn varsity basketball in Tennessee. And he will be there to guide them along the process.
“They don’t understand how hard you have to play to win,” he said. “They’ve never played against level of competition. They will have to learn how fast the game is and they don’t understand the talent level yet.
“You’re going to have to learn how to play with size and speed,” Hopkins concluded. “Some things that we’ve done will help us. There’s times we don’t look bad. But that’s against us.”

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