A rebirth is happening in Gulf Shores with the Dolphins looking ahead from multiple changes the past couple of months.
GULF SHORES — A rebirth is happening in Gulf Shores with the Dolphins looking ahead from multiple changes the past couple of months. The Dolphins football team started their journey forward by the hiring of former Spanish Fort Toros running back/tight end coach Matt Blake as Head Coach/Athletic Director. Blake was a former assistant at Gulf Shores while Ben Blackmon was the head coach of the Dolphins from 2011 to 2014. Blake left Gulf Shores with Blackmon and other coaches to Spanish Fort in 2015. Throughout his career under Blackmon as an assistant, he thrived with a state championship season in 2015 at Spanish Fort while patiently continuing to look for the opportunity as a head coach.
Blake found that opportunity on July 20 when he was hired to be the head coach at Gulf Shores.
“This is a job that I've been preparing for several years,” Blake said, “It's been about two and a half years in the making. The timing is everything, the Lord finally saw fit to work out.”
2017 has been an up-and-down year for the Gulf Shores Dolphins football team. Since the end of the 2016 high school football season, the Gulf Shores Dolphins have gone through three different head football coaches. At the end of the 2016 season, Gulf Shores fired then Jamie Williams after a two-year stint with the Dolphins where he went 1-19. This was largely due to the Dolphins not being able to thrive under his Wing-T offense. Last season, the Dolphins were only to account for an average of 11.8 points per game.
In February, the Dolphins thought they found their next coach when they hired former Murphy offensive coordinator (2014-2016) in Rick Cauley. But, in early July, Cauley took a position at his alma mater at Satsuma.
This put Gulf Shores in an uncomfortable situation this close to the football season. Hiring Matt Blake not only gave the school comfort but also boosted the morale. Coach Matt Blake started Monday with a team meeting followed by a workout. Blake reiterated to his team that people do not expect much from the team but wants to prove them wrong.
When talking about the late timing joining the team, Coach Blake said the timing is perfect.
“It allows us to be hungrier. It is up to us coaches to capitalize on this and demand the effort.”
Blake was definitely demanding a lot from his team and from the seniors that he coached before he and Blackmon originally left for Spanish Fort.
“My expectation is not going to change and that expectation is to build this into a championship contending program year in and year out. That's our goal every day is to keep pushing ourselves to improve in the little things every single day.”
Gulf Shores has not had a winning season for their football program since 2013 when they went 8-3 in Blackmon and Blake’s third year. Blake also stated that the team will still run the spread formation they ran in the spring but slowly build to an offense, throughout the season, that he was familiar with prior schools. It may take the Dolphins a year or two to win consistently but they also believe they have found their guy for the future.
The Gulf Shores Dolphins will open the season at Mountain Brook on August 25 followed by their first home game against the Baldwin County High School Tigers.