Tag Archives: Family and Football

Touch The Sign

When I was just starting out as a Rule 10 football coach at Clay Center Community High School back in the year 2000, I was a mild mannered, timid, and completely clueless football coa…SCREEECHHH.

Sorry boys for the stretch of the truth, please let me start again.

Okay, when I was just starting out as a Rule 10 football coach back in the year 2000, I was an excitable, raving lunatic, who was completely clueless as a football coach. There, I said it. Then something happened. I read the Blackie Book and I read Coach Otto Unruh’s book, HOW TO COACH WINNING FOOTBALL.

The Blackie Book is a compilation put together (and updated each year) by Coach Blackie Lane. It contains virtually the entire historic record of high school football in Clay Center. It is an incredible piece of history and if you haven’t seen it, you should make the effort.

HOW TO COACH WINNING FOOTBALL by the long time Clay Center and Bethel College head coach is a valuable slice of wisdom, both in the schematic football knowledge of the day and in the timeless methodology of coaching young boys into young men.

I read these two documents and became transformed by the tradition of football in our town. I realized what a heavy responsibility fell on one who coaches in this program and I vowed not to be a disappointment. I worked and read, and read and worked. I research and studied football coaching, football theory, especially offensive and defensive line play. But most of all, I studied strength and conditioning.

We aren’t big in CC, we aren’t exceedingly fast, and never really have been. But tradition holds these truths; we play hard, we hit hard, and we come after you every play of every game.

Tiger Tradition.

Another thing we started doing back around 2002 (or one of those years) was having each player touch the Otto Unruh Stadium sign at the south end of the stadium prior to pregame introductions. Fans may or may not have ever noticed this, but they still do it.

I don’t coach anymore, mostly because of the excitable, raving lunatic descriptors I used earlier in this post. Out of curiosity, though, I asked a couple current players if they knew why they “Touch the Sign” before home games. They did not know, but they were eager to find out. So, here is the reason you touch that sign, boys.

We “Touch The Sign” before we take the field for home games at Otto Unruh Stadium as a tribute to all those who played Clay Center Football before us.

We pledge with that one touch we will play with honor, courage, intensity, and sportsmanship on our home field and in front of our community.

We promise we will leave the Clay Center mark on our opponent in defeat and in victory. They will know by their battered and tired bodies they played the Clay Center Tigers.

We play for 100+ years of Clay Center football:

  • 836 games, 453-337-46 record, a .542 winning %
  • 63% of all teams had a winning record
  • 10 undefeated seasons

We play for the early Clay Center Dynasties:

1. V.R. Vegades Era 1920-1926; 42-10-2, a .778 winning %

  • 1920 – 7-1 record
  • 1921 – 8-1 undefeated regular season. Lost to Topeka in playoffs.
  • 1922 – 7-1 Did not get scored on all season until last game, a 7-6 loss to Manhattan. Beat Concordia 101-0.
  • 1923 – 6-1, No TD’s given up the entire season. Lost final game to Manhattan 6-3 but only gave up 2 FG’s.
  • 1924 – 6-1, only gave up 3 TD’s all season.

2. C.A. Nelson Era 1930-1941; 69-27-13, a .670 winning % and 3 undefeated seasons.

We play for the Otto Unruh Era:

  • 1945-1966; 126-65-8, a .633 winning %
  • Won 3 Class A State Championships
  • 3 undefeated 9-0 seasons.
  • 1956 and 1957 teams went 18-0 and won 2 state titles.
  • 1963 team went 8-1 and won state championship. Only loss of year was to Manhattan, 7-6, on a missed PAT.

We play for the Larry Wiemers Era:

  • 1977-1994; 114-71, a .616 winning%
  • 1978, 1979, 1980 teams went 26-5, 2 District championships and 3 NCKL titles
  • 1980 team went 10-1, losing only to Andover in the regional final.
  • 1983, 1984, 1985 teams went 25-8, Substate, district and bi-district titles.
  • 1993 team went 10-1, NCKL champs, district, bi-district, regional runner-up

So, gentlemen, there’s the story behind why you Touch the Sign. Good luck and NEVER forget,

There is no #TigerFamily without #TigerTradition.

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Whose name is written on YOUR foot?

Whose name is written on YOUR foot? by Coach Hays

I sat down in my man-chair.  It was comfortable. It was quiet. It was peaceful.  I was reading some Sherlock Holmes. Life was good.  In comes offspring #2, who plops down on the sofa and turns on the TV.  Toy Story followed by Toy Story 2.  I cough.  Then I loudly clear my throat, but to no avail.  And wanting to avoid an international incident requiring mediators and negotiators, I let the intrusion slide.   I ignored Offspring #2 and went back to reading.

But pretty soon…well, you all know what happened.  The giggling and laughing from the sofa caught my attention and before you know it, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is safely closed on the end table with me and Offspring #2 both laughing and reciting lines by heart.  (Admit it.  “Positive is positive and negative is negative!” is one of the greatest quotations ever recorded on the intricacies of battery polarity engineering and placement.)

Well, the following morning, in that magical mental place between the alarm ringing and full consciousness wrestling back the proper mental faculties, I had a thought flash into my head with the vivid mental image of Woody looking at the faded name of ANDY written on the bottom of his boot. ANDY.  The name that represents belonging to and being a part of.  ANDY. The name that gives Woody purpose.  Looks what happens to Woody in Toy Story 2 when the cleaner wipes those four letters off his boot.  He gives up trying to get back to Andy and the others. Gives up and floats away from all that is important to him.  When the name disappears, so does the very core of who he is.  Eventually, it takes a monumental effort by his friends to bring him back.

Then came the big question.  Whose name do I have written on the bottom of my foot in permanent marker?  Who do I choose belong to? Who do I choose to give myself up to?  What is the purpose, what is the driving force I stand on?  Is it a name to provide solid footing or is it one that will cause me to slip and fall?  I know now.  After some mistakes and some trial and error (see here), I now know.

God on the right foot.

Faith on the left.

Family on the toes.

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“Faith, Family and Football…in that order”

Rest Day Read (SR-37)
Gruden High School Camp 2010 ESPN Video Series
“Man, I love football, sincerely. It gives me the chance to give back to the game a little bit. Be around my son. I wasn’t a very good player when I played the game. I want to help these guys get better. I feel an urgency to do that and I am having a blast.” -Coach John Gruden

Part 1

Joy. That is the first thing I see in Coach Gruden’s eyes. Joy. Absolute, unadulterated football joy. Passion for the game. I can relate. I have been there. I have felt that joy. I have lived that passion.
Coach Paul Lane always preached the following on the priorities and perspective of football:

“Faith, Family, Football…in that order.”

Part 2

I no longer coach football. I miss it. It is like that phantom limb feeling you hear amputees describe about their missing arm or leg. It is there, but gone. The drive, passion and commitment hang in the air like a forgotten mist as I wonder where the young warriors have gone.

Part 3

I no longer coach football for a reason. What happened, you ask? The gory details are a rant for another day. But, the heart of the matter boils down to this simple fact: The 3rd F (Football) began to take too much away from the 1st F (Faith) and the 2nd F (Family). I allowed F3 to leap in front the the first two. I got off the track. I learned that F1 and F2 are what is really, really, really good and are what is really, really, really important.

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