He’s the only head coach the school has ever had, but that’s all about change. Monticello football coach Brud Bicknell is departing his post as the Mustangs’ leader and heading to Patriot High in Nokesville, a brand new school that will open its doors this fall.
“For me it was about the opportunity to coach at the (Group AAA) level,” Bicknell said. “They’re drawing out from Battlefield which is a state championship caliber program. It’s a new school and the facilities are absolutely incredible. I felt like I’ve reached the point where this is an opportunity that doesn’t come around much.”
For Monticello, having Bicknell leave means a lot more than just finding a new coach.
“Losing a guy like Brud is about a lot more than football,” said Mustangs athletic director Fitzgerald Barnes. “We’ve had a great football relationship, work relationship and friendship. He’s given us a lot more than just football.”
Taking over a brand new program is déjà vu all over again for Bicknell. The former offensive coordinator at Albemarle, who also was a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Tulane University, came to Monticello in 1998 when it first opened its doors. It took a while to get the Mustangs rolling, but in his third season in 2001 he was able produce a winning record (7-3) and between 2002 and 2008 his team won at least eight games.
“Those first few years were tough for him,” Barnes said. “He had no true senior class, there was a lot of building and rebuilding but after that we started picking it up and making runs. I always felt confident in his abilities. We stayed the course — he always did things the right way which lead to a lot of success. Everything paid off.”
It took 13 games to get the school its first win but on September 17 in 1999 the Mustangs topped Buckingham County, 21-17. It was the first of many to come.
Bicknell won 91 of his 144 games in 13 years at Monticello. In the Jefferson District, he was 52-28 and 10-5 in the post season. The Mustangs made it to the Group AA Division 3 semifinals three times during his tenure. In 2003 Bicknell’s squad was runner-up. Four years later he led Monticello to a state title. In the title defense during the 2008 campaign, Monticello advanced all the way back to the semifinals. The Mustangs have made it to the post season seven times and missed out once despite carrying an 8-2 record.
“He’s been great to us and he’d also be the first to tell you that he’s been blessed with great players and a consistent coaching staff,” Barnes said.”He’s had a lot of his guys around him for a very long time and had great athletes and outstanding support from the community.”
That’s exactly how he felt.
“We were blessed with great players, great coaches and a great football community,” Bicknell said. “I’d like to think that what we had over these years, the relationships, the community,is pretty unique.”
Barnes is officially advertising the opening for the school’s football head coaching position tomorrow. In his search he’s hoping to find a person that approaches the job similar to the way it’s been handled these last 13 years.
“We expect a slew of people to apply for the job and we’ll be looking for an array of qualities,” Barnes said. “We’re looking for someone who can make an imprint in our community. Someone who can offer life-long lessons to our kids. We know that the football is secondary, that if you find that kind of person, everything else falls into place.”