Former Lobo Brody tackles new challenge at West Mesa - Albuquerque Journal

Former Lobo Brody tackles new challenge at West Mesa

Landrick Brody remembers seven years ago, as a player for the Duke City Gladiators, and the theme from one of his mentors, then-DC coach Dominic Bramante, about the process of creation.

“When we started,” Brody said, “we were a bare minimum team.”

He came to learn and appreciate the intricacies of building a team. And on Monday, on the first day of official practices for the 2022 New Mexico high school football season, West Mesa’s new head football coach was thinking about those days when he was still in uniform, and applying it to this next phase of his career.

“A lot of coaches, the logistics of it, the culture, the type of kids you’re around … it may be intimidating to some coaches, but I love this with this group of guys,” he said after the Mustangs’ first preseason camp workout ended early Monday afternoon. “Kids like this, they strive, thrive to be held accountable.”

West Mesa not only has a new head coach, but Brody’s son, Elijah, transferred from Cleveland to join him in the offseason. The Mustangs open Thursday, Aug. 18, against Santa Fe at Nusenda Community Stadium, and they’re in a new district (2-6A) this season, one that ought to be less daunting than the brutal league (1-6A, which includes state champion Cleveland) they left behind.

But it is the amiable Brody, a former Lobo (2000-04) fullback from Lancaster, Texas, who played for Rocky Long, who represents the biggest shift in attitude adjustment.

“His energy is amazing, it matches us perfectly,” said senior defensive end/linebacker Aimen Gallegos.

The Mustangs’ numbers are solid, with just over 100 players in the program, the coach said.

But West Mesa, 3-6 last season, has obstacles to overcome if it wants to raise its profile in Class 6A football. And Brody embraces that challenge.

“I’m no fool. If we stepped on the field with Cleveland or Volcano Vista or La Cueva tomorrow, we’d have problems,” he said with a laugh. “… But we will (get there). Gradually, we will take the steps to where when we get to those type of teams, we’ll be able to compete.”

His son should probably help immeasurably in the process. Elijah Brody was the back-up to Evan Wysong at Cleveland last fall, and now the 6-foot-3 quarterback is a junior and ready to help the Mustangs learn some of what he absorbed with the Storm.

“Knowledge of the game, how to handle yourself on and off the field, and definitely the consistency of it,” Elijah said. “You have to stack good days on top of good days. And today was a great day to start off the two-a-days.”

The word “culture” was a running theme for the coach Brody played for at Cleveland, Heath Ridenour, a coach who knew how to cultivate quarterbacks. And it is a term that Landrick Brody likes to disperse, as well.

He was hired in January, and immediately set out to gain an understand of the program he had inherited.

“When I got here,” he said, “it was kind of obvious, you could see there was a good pool of talent. The biggest difference between then and the point we are at now is we are starting to get guys to buy into the culture.”

Asked to further describe the progress, Brody said:

“(When I got here), there was a lot of individualism. You could see it from a mile away. There was no accountability. We had a bunch of guys who could play, but their culture was so shot. Now, you can tell that they’re believing in each other.”

Senior safety Zebediah Thompson, one of a handful of seniors for whom 2022 will likely be their final football hurrah, said the Mustangs’ new coach has breathed life into the athletes.

“It’s a big change,” Thompson said. “More energy, more enthusiasm. … It’s been a big improvement. Everyone is buying in and we’re getting better each day.”

Senior wide receiver Chris Johnson, one of a small handful of weapons that coach Brody says his son will be able to utilize this season, said the Mustangs’ new leader communicated his plans in such a way as to infuse the program with confidence.

“He brings the ‘dawg energy,” Johnson said. “He’s the person that wants to make you better and that you want to be better for.”

There is no way for Brody to lay out a precise timeline for his plans to turn West Mesa around, but he said if the Mustangs continue to work, it should occur.

“At that point,” he said, “when you’re in the position to compete, anything can happen. And we have the talent to put ourselves on the other side of things.”

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