Craig Yeast was a football star at Harrodsburg High School and the University of Kentucky, and made it to the NFL, not just because he was talented, but because he approached the game with passion and purpose.
Ready to begin his first season as a head coach, Yeast hopes to get Bryan Station to play the way he did.
"I'm stressing that you have to work hard and have discipline, and then you'll have fun in a family atmosphere," Yeast said. "But you've got to have the first two things before you get the last two."
Bryan Station didn't have fun last fall when it lost 10 of 11 games under Kenny Turner, who resigned after one year as the Defenders' coach.
But from the moment Yeast was hired in February, there was a positive buzz that has carried over to August.
"Last season is long gone. There's definitely new energy here," senior Jaysuma Webb said. "Coach is real tough, but that's what we need. And he's brought a quicker pace and fun style to how we play."
Bryan Station senior Thomas McKinley agreed.
"Having three coaches in three years is hard, but Coach Yeast brings a lot of excitement to rebuilding."
There's a steep learning curve with a new coach and new system, but Yeast has already seen his players embrace a better work ethic and more serious approach to football.
He also sees talent when he looks at the roster.
"Our strength is in our skill people," he said. "We're pretty athletic and pretty quick."
Webb has speed and play-making ability at wideout. Elijah Burdette, Michael Morton and Marc Petit-Frere can also stretch the field and catch the ball.
Yeast refers to running backs Everett Talbert, L.J. Warfield and LeDarius Jackson as a "three-headed monster. They can all run, and run with power, too."
The trio combined for 744 yards and eight touchdowns last year.
Newcomers Tyus Alcorn, a senior, and Ora Johnson, a sophomore, are battling for the starting quarterback spot.
"Both are very athletic with good arms and can run," Yeast said. "They're talented kids who have to be on the field somewhere to make plays if they're not at quarterback."
Yeast's offensive strategy will be simple: "Try to get the ball in our best players' hands, get them some space and matchups, and see what they can do."
McKinley, taking one for the team, moved from receiver to the offensive line where he'll join veterans John Hiles, Jamal Johnson, Jeremy Walker and Jeremy Strode.
Bryan Station's defense will be quick and athletic, led by Talbert at middle linebacker. "He's about as good as you can get, and a great kid," Yeast said. "He's Division I."
Burdette is also an experienced linebacker. Patrick Puckett and Curtis Sellers could see action there, too.
Austin Hendron and Rayking Young will be outside linebackers. Webb and Morton will lead the secondary.
While nobody questions the Defenders' athleticism, Yeast is looking for something else.
"I have a little bit of a country boy mentality in knowing you have to be physical in this game," he said. "These kids don't understand that yet. It's a work in progress."
Yeast, a fit, young-looking 34, occasionally practices with the scout team and gives his players a glimpse of what made him a star.
"For the sake of my pride, I'll say none of them are faster than me," he said with a smile.
Yeast just hopes his team can catch on fast to his philosophy of hard work and discipline so they can win some games and have some fun.