Coach Paul Lane, in his infinite wisdom, indoctrinated the mini-seasons within the high school football season in all of us players and coaches during his coaching tenure. It was a great concept to incorporate with a state system where your postseason hopes depended solely on your performance in the three district games at the end of the nine game regular season.
Season One: The first three games. Figure out who you are.
Every team has a personality, every team has things they are good at and things they aren’t good at. Every team has things which lead them to victory and things which drag them to defeat. This is the time to figure out these things. And, hopefully, at least one of these games is against a quality team, a team good enough to expose the cracks in the team.
Personally, I always liked at least one slobber-knocker early in the season to “wake” the kids up and make them realize how much harder they needed to work.
Season Two: Games four, five, and six. Fixing cracks and finding your stride.
Repair the cracks you discovered in Season One and get better at the those things that shine from the team’s personality. This is the stage of patience and development. Everyone settles into their roles on the team and, magically, the whole thing begins to move forward and grow like a snowball rolling down the side of the mountain.
It is also when high school boys begin to tire of the routine of practice, so it’s time to throw in a wrinkle. Wrinkles? Things like having the Bubbas (offensive lineman) run “no holds barred” physical pass routes while the backs try to cover them for their daily warm-up (Note: Bubbas ruled these passing games) or playing a physical game of “goal line stand” in the mud.
Season Three: Games seven, eight, and nine. THE CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
Districts. Four teams, three games, with the winner (and in our later years, the runner-up) advancing to the state playoff tournament.
The Championship Season.
During this stretch it’s time to press the foot to the floorboard and let the engine rev as the team heads down the road. It is time to get after it.
The time is now to put aside the bangs and the bruises, the nagging injuries everybody struggles with this time of year. It’s time to throw caution to the wind and get after it. An attitude of “take no prisoners” begins to flow through the really good teams and a fresh attitude of “second chance” excitement pervades the team who’s had a rough year thus far.
Everybody starts The Championship Season at 0-0.
Hope springs forward.