Ariton’s basketball programs will have a new look next season.
The Purple Cats will be guided by Brett Goodson and Steven Kilcrease, who were approved Tuesday night by the Dale County School Board as the new boys and girls head coaches.
Goodson replaces his dad, Terry, who was interim coach of the boys program after the mid-season dismal of Kelsey Prestwood. Kilcrease fills the void for the girls after the resignation of Chuck Dunn last month.
Goodson, a 2016 graduate who played basketball and football at Ariton, has helped with the Purple Cats basketball team the last four years while finishing his degree from Troy. He was also hired as a physical education teacher at Ariton on Tuesday night.
He takes over an Ariton program that has won 60 games over the past four years, mostly under Prestwood’s guidance. That includes a 19-7 season from this past winter.
“I think it is an exciting situation coming into a program that really has had success,” Goodson said. “I am not coming into a program that needs a lot of fixing up. We just have to keep the momentum going in the right direction.”
Goodson said he was proud to take over at his alma mater with plenty of family members around in the community.
“It is home. It is where I have grown up and my family is all around,” Goodson said. “I have a great support cast behind me. I am super excited.”
After playing high school ball under his dad, the younger Goodson played for a season at Huntingdon College.
He continues a family tradition of coaching. In addition to his dad, a longtime basketball and volleyball coach at Ariton who also guided Dothan and G.W. Long boys basketball teams for a while, Goodson’s uncle, Jerry, was a longtime coach of Ariton’s softball team and his sister, Haley, is Ariton’s current softball head coach.
The new Purple Cat boys basketball coach admits a lot of his coaching philosophy comes from his dad.
“I am an old-school approach” Goodson said. “I believe we have to do things fundamentally. We are not a team that will just play free, but I believe there are moments you can play free. We will hustle. On defense, you will get all we got from us and we will rebound the basketball.”
Ariton principal Josh Herring feels the program is getting a good, young rising coach in Goodson, who he believes “will turn his heads in the future.”
“Brett is going to be a tremendous coach,” Herring said. “He is a young coach so he is going to have to learn on the job. There are things he will have to get familiar with, but there is one thing I have noticed with working with Brett for the last several months is he takes responsibility for anything that happens and he is very capable of self-reflecting. His basketball knowledge is going to be there, coming from his dad and from being a player. He also loves Ariton.”
Kilcrease is also no stranger to Ariton. He has been the Purple Cats’ head football coach the last five years, guiding that program to a 40-20 with two state quarterfinal teams. He was also an assistant coach under Dunn for two seasons (2017-18 and 2018-19) in girls basketball.
A Brundidge native, Kilcrease was also a head boys basketball coach at Lee-Scott Academy for five years (2001-06) before a five-year tenure at Pike Liberal Arts (2007-12). He also coached one girls basketball team at Lee-Scott in 2012-13 before going returning home to begin his chicken house business a few miles down the road from Ariton.
While at Pike Liberal Arts, he coached the girls basketball team for three seasons, guiding the 2009-10 team to the AISA state title. He also led a team at Pike Lib and the one girls team at Lee-Scott to the state semifinals.
“I am excited about the opportunity (to be Ariton’s girls coach),” Kilcrease said. “I have coached a lot of basketball in the past. It has been 2010-11 since I have been a head coach, but I actually helped coach Dunn a couple of years before taking off the last couple of years. I enjoy basketball and coaching it. I am excited about the opportunity.”
He takes over an Ariton girls program that went 55-29 during the four seasons under Dunn, but faces a rebuilding year next winter.
“This will be a challenge,” Kilcrease said. “They lost 90-95 percent of their scoring, lost four seniors who will graduate. At the other places, I walked into situations where I had a lot of people returning, but here I don’t. We will be young. We have to figure out what we do best.”
With that in mind, he doesn’t know what kind of style of play he will guide, though he said defense will be a major part of the picture.
“If we have the team to be fast-paced, we will be fast-paced,” Kilcrease said. “If we don’t then we will be slow. But we will pride ourselves on defense. We will work hard on the defensive side on defense for sure.”
Herring said it was a no-brainer to hire Kilcrease as the girls basketball head coach.
“You couldn’t find a better proven winner as far as a coach, especially the track record he has in girls athletics as he has already won a state championship when he was at Pike Lib,” Herring said. “A lot of people don’t know he was a girls basketball coach before he was a head football coach. Getting somebody who is invested in Ariton as he is and with the knowledge of girls basketball, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”