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Brewer takes over as Norse coach

HUDDLE: Northfield’s boys’ basketball team huddles during pre-game warm-ups in a game last season for the Norse.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

Rick Brewer has had many stops at many levels in many states in his time as a head coach. His latest stop brings him to Wabash County and the Northfield boys’ basketball position and brings yet another challenge to Brewer, who has made a habit of conquering them.

Brewer takes over the Norse program after most recently spending time in Florida as both a high school and college head coach. Prior to that, Brewer was well-versed in Indiana high school basketball, starting his career at Daleville and Frankton before enjoying a long run at New Castle as an assistant coach with both the boys’ and girls’ teams before eventually taking the head coaching position of the girls’ basketball team.

The stop at Frankton saw Brewer deliver the program its first winning season years before becoming the competitive force the program is now in Class 2A. Brewer’s time at New Castle as an assistant on the boys’ teams saw him match up with former Northfield boys’ basketball coach Mo Smedley, then head boys’ basketball coach at Marion.

After stops at Oak Ridge High School, Oviedo High School, Warner Southern College, Webber College and Victory Christian Academy in Florida, Brewer returned to Indiana last year before eventually setting his sights on the Northfield position.

For Brewer, the differences in coach college and high school basketball are part of what led him back to the high school ranks.

“With college basketball, you’re finding the pieces to fit the puzzle,” Brewer said. “In high school, you’re starting the puzzle from scratch.”

Brewer will take a Northfield program steep in tradition but low on wins in recent seasons. Only once over the last five seasons have the Norse reached double-digit wins, that coming in 2015-16 when Northfield finished 13-11.

However, the last two seasons have seen the Norse win a combined 13 games as they finished the 2017-18 season with a 5-18 mark, losing the final seven games of the season.

Over his limited time this summer, Brewer was able to practice with the team and compete in two weeks of games in the Wabash County YMCA Summer League with other county, conference and local foes.

“I think we have some good pieces,” Brewer said of his team. “I really like the seniors and the drive they’ve brought. Then we’ve got some young kids that are coming in and pushing for spots. We only installed one play, and it came after the games. But it’s been a good summer”

Brewer’s focus with the Norse program, though, is simple. He understands the cyclical nature of high school sports, particularly in small schools, and hopes to still remain competitive through it.

“In a small school, you want to be competitive,” Brewer said. “It comes in cycles, but every three years, I’d like to compete for a sectional title.

“I want to be competitive. If we’re going out there every night and losing by 25 points, that’s not being competitive. If we come out and win 15 games, that’d be stupendous. Then, I want to become a .500 team before becoming a team that competes for titles. In my 23 years as a head coach not counting college, I have 11 sectional titles. That amounts to about one every two or three years.”