Mark Britton spent very little time celebrating Cullman High’s playoff win over Wenonah Friday night.

Immediately after the game ended, the Bearcats football coach addressed his team, spoke with the media and went back to work.

Back to work? Friday night after the game?

Absolutely. Success has a price, and Britton, his coaching staff and Cullman’s players are paying it right now.

During his postgame speech, Britton told the players to enjoy their 48-13 win over Wenonah. He also gave the Bearcats Saturday off.

The coaches weren’t so lucky. They didn’t even get to go home Friday.

That’s right, Cullman’s coaches always begin preparations for the next week’s opponent immediately after the game.

“It can be grueling, but it’s got to be done,” said Britton, who didn’t leave the field house until around 1 a.m. Saturday morning. “Now that the playoffs have started, I have to be in Montgomery every Saturday at 10 a.m. for the coaches meeting. So it gets to be a little tiring.”

So what do the coaches work on after the game? According to Britton, the entire staff watches film together — giving the offensive and defensive coaches an opportunity to offer a little friendly advice to their colleagues.

“During the week, our offensive and defensive coaches are usually separated when they watch film,” Britton said. “So when we get together after the games, it gives us a chance to critique each other.

“Our staff works well together, so no one gets upset when someone else points something out. None of our coaches take it personal. They want to do whatever it takes to help us win football games.”

Just how important are these late-night film sessions? To answer that question, just take a look at what Cullman was able to do on special teams against Wenonah.

Early in the first quarter, Cullman blocked a Wenonah punt deep in the Dragons’ territory. That blocked punt translated into a touchdown, giving the Bearcats a 14-0 lead early in the game.

The blocked punt wasn’t a coincidence. It was the product of one of the coach’s film sessions.

“Our coaches noticed something when we were watching film. They thought we could block a punt,” Britton said. “They pitched the idea to me — made me realize it was a risk that was worth taking. And as it turns out, it was.

“Luck had nothing to do with that blocked punt. It was something we spent hours working on last week.”

Late nights at work aren’t unusual for Cullman’s coaching staff. Throughout the week, they can usually be found in the field house hours after practice has ended.

What are the coaches doing? Watching film. Watching film. And watching some more film.

In the old days, coaches had to rely on video tape for game films. That meant copies were limited, and maneuvering through the film was difficult.

Those days are gone.

Video tapes are now outdated. These days, coaches burn game films onto DVDs — which can be duplicated and passed out to players easily.

“Technology has changed the way we coach,” Britton said. “Every week, we burn up to 45 copies of our game films just to pass out to the players. Since we’re able to do that, we actually put a lot responsibility on our players. We ask that our guys spend time watching film at home.

“Coach (John) Drake also records our practices, which is something else that’s really helpful. ”

According to Britton, the coaches are used to the late nights and long work weeks. But what about their families?

While several of Cullman’s coaches aren’t married, four of them are. Britton just happens to be one of the married coaches.

When asked if his wife, Patti, ever gets tired of the late nights, Britton just smiled.

“Patti is a veteran,” he said. “She’s been with me through my entire coaching career. Yeah, the pressures and strains that go along with coaching football can be tough. But Patti understands. She’s the best.”

With a second-round playoff game with Fairfield coming up Friday, Cullman’s coaches have already started their game planning. Offensive line coach Bobby Wilkerson broke down film on Fairfield Saturday afternoon, and the rest of the coaching staff met later that night.

One week of work ends, and another one begins — immediately.

“It takes commitment,” Britton said. “And that’s one thing we have here at Cullman. Our assistant coaches are committed to doing an excellent job. I honestly believe that I have one of the best staffs in the state.

“They come to work every day, and they aren’t just showing up. The time they spend up here — the late nights and long hours — it’s all productive. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve been able to enjoy so much success.”

‰ Justin Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 257 or by e-mail at jgraves@cullmantimes.com.

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