Dora's Lockhart named Eagle Elite Coach of the Year

Coach leads Bulldogs to turnaround season

By W. BRIAN HALE, Eagle Sports Writer
Posted 12/26/17

When Bart Lockhart arrived to his new appointment as head coach of the Dora Bulldogs, expectations were high — not only from supporters of the program, but from Lockhart himself.

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Dora's Lockhart named Eagle Elite Coach of the Year

Coach leads Bulldogs to turnaround season

Posted

When Bart Lockhart arrived to his new appointment as head coach of the Dora Bulldogs, expectations were high — not only from supporters of the program, but from Lockhart himself.

Dora, which had been an annual playoff team through the first half of the decade, had recorded just four wins in 2015-16, including a winless season.

Lockhart came with a plan to transform not just Dora’s play on the field, but how the members of the team carried themselves in the classroom and off the field as well. The result was a 9-3 season in 2017 and a trip to the second round of the players — which garnered Lockhart the Alabama Sports Writer Association’s Class 4A Coach of the Year award for his efforts in turing the program around.

Lockhart is the Daily Mountain Eagle Elite Coach of the Year.

Following a successful rebuilding campaign at Sumiton Christian, Lockhart entered his new job knowing he had to not implement his own system, but also address the team’s mentality after the failures on the field in the two previous years. With the assistance of his coaching staff — whom Lockhart bestows much of the credit for the rebound — the players responded with enthusiasm, eager to right the program and return to playoff contention.

“The entire program — from our principal Ms. Paige Abner, to our coaching staff and the players, as well as the supporters, were hungry for change. The players were willing to do whatever was asked of them and bought in from the very beginning and fortunately, we were able to do some great things this season,” Lockhart said.

With a hard-working and skilled offensive line, elite running backs in Caleb Danner and Achilya Dixon and a defense with a knack for forcing turnovers, the Bulldogs quickly established themselves as a team with deep postseason goals. With just two losses suffered during the regular season — to playoff team Haleyville and a two-point defeat to eventual state runner Fayette County — Dora secured a home game for the first round of the postseason.

With a first-round win over Deshler, the Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Though Dora fell in the second round to Saks, the quick turnaround was a success.

Lockhart also witnessed continual growth from inside the team as the season progressed, as the young men under he and his coaching staff’s leadership worked to better themselves in every aspect of their lives.

“It starts with belief — the guys started gaining confidence. Our mindset in the offseason was ‘Earn it’ and that meant believing in ourselves. Secondly we had to work for it as we knew without hard work, nothing was going to come easy. Our guys put in the hours, from being ready to work at 6:30 in the morning in the summer to the effort that they gave in practice — everything we got was earned. It makes the success we had even more special,” Lockhart said.

“The most important element we had to our success was the locker room. It started with the leadership of the coaching staff, who are great men who bought-in to the culture and what we’re trying to create. They live it daily and that helps the players believe as they see those coaches setting the example — who took it with them on and off the field.”