Many elements go into making a high school football program a success.
You need quality players of course. There is also a need for strong support from the administration and school board.
Apalachee High School has an added advantage that is unique in high school football or at any level for that matter. The Wildcats may very well possess one of the most enthusiastic coaching staffs you will ever see on the sidelines on Friday night.
For head coach Shane Davis and his coaching staff, it’s all by design. Davis wants the high level of enthusiasm to be contagious and spread to his players.
“It’s tough on me being the head coach since I have so many things to oversee,” Davis said Sunday as he began preparations for Friday’s key Region 8-AAAA contest against Salem.
“However, I am in my comfort zone being that way. I have so many coaches who have that same amount of intensity. If we can coach with a high amount of intensity then I believe the kids will feed off of it.”
That strategy worked to perfection last Friday against visiting Madison County. The Wildcats jumped out to a big first half lead and while the Red Raiders would score several touchdowns in the second half, they were so far behind they never seriously threatened to win the game in the final two quarters.
“I admit it’s tough to coach the way I do when things aren’t going well,” Davis said. “I am more animated than 99 percent of coaches in the state. I don’t claim to know more Xs and Os than everyone, but I can bring passion to the game.”
By having such a high degree of enthusiasm, Davis, as well as his assistants, take the pressure off the Apalachee players. It allows them to play loose and to simply have fun.
“We don’t want the kids to be nervous when the game starts,” Davis said. “We want them to go out and have a good time. If the worst thing that ever happens to them is they lose a football game on Friday night then we will all be OK.”
Davis’ methods are clearly working as the head coach has taken the Wildcat program, which is still young history wise, to a level of success which includes the state playoffs. Apalachee is battling for the postseason once again this season.
“I really enjoy Friday nights,” Davis said. “It’s what we all work for as coaches and players. When Friday night arrives you want to have a good time. That’s what we try to emphasize to our players. Go out and have a good time and try your best to win. If you do that, everything will be fine.”
The Apalachee coaches and players will look for the “fun” to continue this Friday when they venture to Conyers to battle the Salem Seminoles. The game has playoff implications. The Wildcats still have a chance to finish third in Region 8-AAAA.
No doubt Davis, his coaches and players will be ready when kickoff arrives. Their enthusiasm, I predict, will be at a fever pitch after a week of preparation. It should be a fun one.
Chris Bridges is sports editor of the Barrow Journal. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.