KP’s Lee will refrain from Super Bowl talk at Pre-season Practice

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Coach Brian Lee has guided KP's football team to a 25-game winning streak and two consecutive Super Bowl championships.  (Photo by Scott May)​
Issue Date: 
August, 2018
Article Body: 

After winning two straight Super Bowls and compiling a 25-game winning streak, one might think that King Philip football coach Brian Lee will emphasize what’s needed to capture a third bowl title on the first day of pre-season practice on Aug. 17.
Far from it.
Talk of Super Bowls won’t be uttered. And, neither will the Warriors’ 25-game win streak. What will dominate day one of the pre-season, and subsequent days, will be phrases that focus on being competitive and eager to improve. North Attleboro and Foxboro also will be mentioned because KP opens its season against North on Sept. 7 and Foxboro on Sept. 14.
“There’ll be no mention of Super Bowls on day one of practice,’’ said Lee, who begins his 14th year as head coach. “There won’t be any Super Bowl discussion until later in the season. Instead, we’ll be talking about North Attleboro and Foxboro. We’re going to know early on what we need to fix, where we have to focus and where we need to improve.’’
Lee uses a word like “fix’’ because he’s acutely aware that a major rebuilding will be taking place. The Warriors offense will have a plethora of new faces — in the offensive line and at tailback, quarterback, fullback and tight end. KP also needs to replace its top wideout. “Our entire offensive line has to be replaced,’’ Lee said. “On defense, there’s about half the positions that will feature new players (two ends, the top cornerback and safety and an outside linebacker).’’
Since KP defeated Lincoln-Sudbury, 10-7, for its second straight Super Bowl crown last December, expectations continue to be high. Lee has been asked countless times if the Warriors can make it three in a row. His answer is simple. “I don’t know,’’ he says. That comment doesn’t duck the question because he isn’t a fortune-teller.
“So much has to come together to win three straight bowls,’’ the 46-year-old Lee said. “Physical condition and health are a must, mental preparation and mental toughness are so important and team chemistry has to be built, and that takes time. Team chemistry was a huge factor in our winning the last two bowls.’’
Day one of the pre-season, nevertheless, will have a theme and it will be about character — an attribute Lee takes very seriously.
“We’ve had high character guys in the past,’’ he said. “That leads to our players being accountable. It means good decisions will be made away from the field, like doing the right thing and keeping your grades up. A high-character group is resilient and can adjust quickly. This year’s team has a big target on its back. Football fans in other towns are sick and tired hearing about our success. Our players know their opponents have the KP game circled on their calendars.’’
Lee is pleased that all 13 of his assistant coaches are returning and he’s quick to credit them and the players for the school’s grid success. “I rely heavily on all my assistants, especially the two coordinators — John Sarianides on offense and Matt Wassel on defense,’’ Lee said. “The players and the assistant coaches truly deserve all the credit.’’ Lee, however, is the face of the program but he jokingly says that “some consider him the equipment manager.’’
In spite of that quip, Lee has had nine winning seasons during his 13 years at KP and those nine squads have won eight or more games. His blood lines may be linked to his success. Lee’s father (John) coached in Tennessee and later took the reins at Walpole High for 28 years. His teams dominated Bay State League play.
“My dad is short on words but by watching him and just being around him, I’ve learned a lot,’’ Lee said. “My first three seasons at KP were losing years and he had his doubts that the program could be a success. He’s delighted with what’s happened and says ‘it’s unbelievable.’ He’s at all our games and experienced the Super Bowls with me. The one tidbit I learned from him early on was to put kids in the right positions. Don’t ask them to do something they can’t.’’
A tremendous winning culture is KP’s trademark and Lee firmly believes that stems from hard work and off-season training and commitment. “Football isn’t easy; it takes work and our kids give 100 percent,’’ he said. “From January through August, they work with the strength coach (Chris Lestan) to get ready.’’
The players’ outlook and demeanor also adds to a positive culture and Lee points to Shane Frommer as a good example. “Shane deserves plenty of credit for what we’ve achieved,’’ Lee said. “He’s going to Yale. He often talked to his teammates about being part of a winning tradition and that the captains and players who came before him were responsible for the program’s success. Producing good citizens is just as important as producing good football players. Two of our captains on the 2016 Super Bowl team that beat Reading are at excellent colleges — John DeLuca is at Tufts and Brett Mazur is at West Point.’’
Lee knows that even if the Super Bowl run continues, it will end some day. But, he’s quick to dispel any thoughts that KP’s teams that competed before the two bowl triumphs weren’t successful. “We’ve had teams that won the Hockomock League title and teams that got to the South Sectional final,’’ he noted. “Wins don’t always mean you’re successful. It’s not always the right measuring stick for success.’’
Coaching at a school that involves three towns isn’t easy because it’s not automatic that residents in those communities are all on the same page. “The school is in Wrentham and that leaves Norfolk and Plainville sometimes feeling no ownership,’’ Lee noted. “But, it’s nice to have a Pop Warner program that now includes all three towns.’’
Lee, who lives in Norfolk with his wife Colleen and children (J.T., 11 and Payton, 8), is definitely one of the state’s premier coaches. His credentials reveal he’s paid his dues. He played at Walpole for his father, graduated from Bridgewater State, and coached at Walpole for eight years. Later, for five more years, he was an assistant at Curry College for former Patriots linebacker Steve Nelson. After 13 years as an assistant, he took the KP post.
Lee’s 14th year at the Warriors’ helm will undoubtedly have its share of twists and turns. He knows expectations are high, no matter how many replacements are needed.
“I’m excited to see what our kids can do,’’ he said. “There are plenty of question marks but I’m cautiously optimistic about the year ahead. I hope the positive culture we have will be something the kids can lean on until we find out who our leaders are.’’
Pre-season practice on Aug. 17 will be a big day for football fans in KP’s tri-town area. It’s a day Brian Lee cherishes. He knows it signals a journey and the itinerary will have some interesting stops. He just isn’t sure what to expect.
But, with his track record, chances are there’ll be more success along the way. And, it’ll come the old-fashioned way — by earning it.