To that end Andy Morris, who was a student at OMS in 2000-01, has decided to step toward a bit of a new direction to help get the Walker Valley program over the hump by taking the head coaching job at Ocoee Middle School.
"I'm excited to be back here. I went to school here when it was Bradley Junior. My brother Al Jr. coached the senior group at Walker Valley here at Ocoee when they were seventh and eighth graders. I'm looking forward to putting together some similar groups like that."
Ocoee Middle athletic director Kent Smith said he is happy to have Morris continue what has become a solid wrestling program.
"We're glad to have Andy with us. This will help us solidify the pipeline to Walker Valley with his dad being there already. We've got a good program here and the last couple of years coach Andrew Hedges has done a great job with our program. I know Andy is going to continue that. It's good to have that tie and that relationship going with Walker Valley," said Smith.
"Andy has said Walker Valley is going to have a strong team this year and is senior loaded. I remember when that senior class was at Ocoee and it was a good class of eighth-grade boys. We want to continue to have strong classes going to Walker Valley to continue that trend."
Morris plans to use everything he has learned from father Al to prepare young Colts to become seasoned Mustangs when they leave OMS.
"I consider myself lucky to have been able to coach five years at Walker Valley and get that experience. I feel like my job here is to prepare these guys for that next level. I think that (my experience at Walker Valley) is going to contribute a lot," he said.
He also said working with his father has been a truly edifying experience and he wants to continue to build on what he has learned in "The Stable."
"That has been one of the biggest joys and most rewarding things, being able to coach with my dad. I really loved it and tried to take in every bit I could," said the new head coach.
He is also counting on support coming from the high school end as he works to bolster the feeder system, but said there is already a large amount of cooperation between the two schools.
"They are a great support system. They help out with running the tournament here, the Ocoee Middle Invitational. They are always at the dual meets and on weekends we work together," said Morris. "I also do the Stampede Wrestling Club which is K-12. A lot of the guys already know each other and we are going to be doing a lot with them."
Morris give coach Hedges credit for building the wrestling program to its current status and his goal is to take the talent on hand and build it further.
"We've got some experienced wrestlers as well as some new young faces. Coach Hedges' group last year was a pretty good group of eighth graders that are good freshmen now," said the new Colts' coach. "It's not going to be what I consider a rebuilding year because we still have a lot of kids with a lot of mat experience. But, going to be a young team so hopefully for the next few years we're going to be able to have a dominant middle school team."
A successful program at the middle school level could go a long way as far as helping the Mustangs in their push to become a state-wide powerhouse. Morris said his goal is to provide potential Mustangs with a solid foundation that can be further honed at the next level.
"I want to build a good base of fundamentals so by the time these guys get to high school the coaches there can just take it and run with it where they are not having to start at ground zero," said Morris. "Hopefully, by the time these guys get to high school they will be competing for a state championship."