Tag Archives: Tiger Football

COACH LANE’S OVERALL PHILOSOPHIES (circa 2000)

Every year about this time, I go to my space in the basement, pull out the tubs and boxes of old football coaching materials, and make an attempt to cull things that no longer justify the space they take up in the house.  

It’s a painful journey at times, like Dante descending into a deeper circle of Hell, but it’s mostly a joyous experience. Almost every piece of paper, from notebooks to scouting reports to journal articles to coaching books, comes with a memory. Some good, some bad.

Yesterday, I sent three full trash bags to their final resting place at the landfill. There is plenty more for another year, but those remaining things have earned a reprieve. Someday it will be condensed to one shelf of books and one Rubbermaid tub, but today is not that day.

There are also things I will never part with. Yesterday, I ran across one of those pieces. It was Page 3 from Coach Paul Lane’s Tiger Football Player Handbook in his first year as Head Football Coach at Clay Center Community High School.

The year was 2000. The kids were ready for a change. The football community was ready f0r a change. Everyone was looking to have fun and enjoy high school football again.

I was lucky enough to be a part of it. And you know what?

It was more than just fun and a return to enjoying the game. IT WAS A BLAST!

Here is Page 3 from that Coach Lane’s first CCCHS Tiger Football Handbook. It had a profound effect on hundreds of young men and one fish-out-of-football-water assistant coach in the year 2000 who was struggling to learn “channeled intensity”.

ENJOY!

COACH LANE’S OVERALL PHILOSOPHIES

There is a fine line between being an “average” football team or being League Champions. To become one of the best, we must be a team of passion, toughness, and togetherness.

THE THREE PILLARS OF A PLAYOFF TEAM ARE:

100% COMMITMENT
FROM 100% OF THE TEAM
100% OF THE TIME

ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND

  • School is a prerequisite to your participation in this sport.
  • Strive to excel in all classes.
  • Good habits are developed by repetition and a desire to get better.
  • The is NO SUBSTITUTE FOR HARD WORK.
  • A solid work ethic is of the utmost importance — on and off the football field.
  • You play on Friday night like you practice during the week.
  • You are expected to give 100% at all times.
  • You EARN THE RIGHT to represent your team under the lights on Friday nights.
  • DISCIPLINE WILL GUIDE YOU THROUGH ADVERSITY.
  • We must do the little things well by focusing on fundamentals.
  • We must be the most physical team on the field.
  • We must stay focused with “channeled intensity”.
  • We must give maximum effort on every down.
  • We must be in great physical condition to ward off mental mistakes when tired.
  • WE MUST BE A FOURTH QUARTER TEAM.
  • When a teammate makes a mistake, be the first one to help him get over it.
  • WORRY ONLY ABOUT THAT WHICH YOU CAN CONTROL.
  • Win the turnover battle and respond aggressively to ANY turnover.
  • Be unselfish in your play.
  • Accentuate the positive — don’t be negative.
  • Don’t get too high over any victory, and don’t get too low over any loss.
  • REPRESENT YOUR SCHOOL WITH PRIDE AT ALL TIMES.
  • BE DIGNIFIED IN EVERYTHING YOU DO.
  • GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE ALL THOSE WHO HELP YOU SUCCEED.
  • NEVER LET THE TEAM OR TEAMMATE DOWN.
  • NEVER WALK AWAY FROM A JOB UNDONE!
  • IT DOESN’T TAKE TALENT TO HUSTLE.

 

coachlanephilosophies_2000

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ROAR

Tiger Bike Night. It’s one of the highlights of our local high school football home season. Local motorcycle enthusiasts line up along the track, and, after the team walks down the line of bikes, they take a lap around the track before kickoff. It’s cool. It’s LOUD. It’s probably the closest representation of what goes on inside the head of a player at the line of scrimmage just before the ball is snapped during a game.

My favorite memory of Bike Night from the days when I still coached was the first time they ever did it. I think it was 2005 or 2006, but those details begin to fade in my aging memory. The details may fade, but the visceral feeling doesn’t (and I hope it never does.).

This Bike Night was something completely new to CCCHS. We stood outside the locker room and watched the bikes drive through the stadium gate and line up in front of the stands at the south end of Otto Unruh Stadium. There was no plan for players to interact with the bikers, so we went back into the locker room to wait for the signal for us to come out for the national anthem and player introductions.

I wish I could describe the feeling in that locker room when the riders began to rev their engines. Words will not do justice to the reaction of the body and the reaction of the fifty odd, crammed-into-a-locker room-collective-of-teenage-boys, already emotionally charged to play a football game, when they felt the roar of the bikes.
It was electric.

The player’s eyes danced as they looked to their left and right at their teammates. Tight smiles formed across the faces. Each understood what the others were feeling. The rumbling and the roar flowed through the blood spiked by the release of adrenaline. They were ready to run through the concrete walls.

Blood
Intensity
Power

Chained power in the revved engines transferred to the hearts of each and every one of us. Energy in motion. Ready to hit the opponent in the mouth with a brick. Ready to shine your shillelagh and charge onto the field. Ready to play Tiger Football the way we were supposed to play Tiger Football.

Full throttle.
Fast forward.
Balls to the wall.
Hit you like a cannon shot.
Every man, every play.

Clay Center Tiger Football. The way the game was meant to be played.

I appreciated the bike night event. The 2016 Tiger Bike Night is this Friday. I don’t know if I’ll go. I don’t know if I can feel that special ROAR again and not feel the tug on my gut that pulls unrelenting back into that world again.
That grating, tingling sense which gnaws on you like a phantom limb. Always there, yet missing. The world of competing and pushing, pulling, driving, willing over 60 kids toward a common goal each year. All this wrapped up in that visceral rumbling of dozens and dozens of bikes, each revving their engine on the most beautiful piece of real estate in the county. Our house.

Finally, if you find yourself in Otto Unruh Stadium on this Friday Night In America listening to the roar of Tiger Bike Night before the Tigers vs Goodland football game, do old Coach Hays a favor. Close your eyes and feel the ROAR. Feel it in your gut and in your chest. Close your eyes and dream of competing. Close your eyes and appreciate the community of players, coach, and fans in our little gem of a city. Then bring on the three B’s:

Bandanas
Bikers
Ball

Friday Night In America…Biker style!

tiger-bike-night

Photo courtesy of the Orange & Black Pack

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A Look Back: Hell Week Friday

NOTE: This is a look in the rear view mirror at what we used to do for the first week of summer conditioning. It was dubbed “Hell Week” by participants. Friday…the final day of the first week. We’ve started the bodies on the road to becoming the explosive athletes we need to be in order to compete. We’ve started to thread in a team concept and give the kids an idea of what it takes to play Clay Center Tiger Football. And now it’s time to wrap up Week One and slingshot our way toward the season.

Friday of Hell Week was one of my favorite days of coaching football, especially in those years we were able to move the Friday Hell Week workout to our home field, the historic Otto Unruh Stadium. On Friday, we introduced the kids to the historic aspect of the program. We tried to make the kids aware they were part of something bigger and something greater. It is important for us to have a foot rooted in the past while the other moves forward. We also tried to make the kids aware of the role they have in the community and to appreciate the town that supports them like few other places on this earth.

Friday.  Finally the end of the week.  The attitudes and the energy are riding high.  Kids are working through the soreness and starting to feel like human beings again.  Friday.  This was a special day for me.  Tiger Tradition Day.  Until the admins told us we couldn’t use our stadium due to grounds-keeping concerns, we did the Hell Week Friday at Otto Unruh Stadium.  I think we lost something magical when we quit running this first Friday workout at the stadium.  If I had to do it all over again, I would have never asked the admins for permission to use stadium facility.  Shoot first and ask questions later.

Friday

Winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing.  You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do things right all the time.  Winning is a habit.”         -Vince Lombardi

6:30 -6:40  Stretch Runs
6:40-7:30  Tiger Tradition

I.  FANS – Otto Unruh Stadium seats

A.  Expectations and community pride

1.  Fans, parents, relatives want to see you do well, everyone wants us to be successful.

2.  Strong community sense of pride in this school’s athletic programs.

10 Stair Sprints – sprint up, walk down.

B.  Entertainment and Social Importance

1.  Friday night in America – CC true to this mantra.

2.  Tiger Football is the show on Friday nights in this town.

Families, friends all gather to celebrate Tiger football…Let’s give them the best damn show EVERY Friday night.  Let’s let our families and friends to have something to BRAG about and be PROUD of.

5 minutes of stadium stairs

II. Tradition – Otto Unruh Stadium Sign
A.  100 years of Clay Center football
1.  836 games, 453-337-46 record, a .542 winning %
2. 63% of all teams had a winning record
3.  10 undefeated seasons

B.  Highlights and 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 %

  • 3 undefeated seasons.

3.  Otto Unruh Era, 1945-1966; 126-65-8, a .633 winning %

Won 3 Class A State Championships; Domination and consistent competitiveness in the CKL; Nationally published book “How to Coach Winning Football”.

  • 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.

4.  Larry Wiemers Era, 1977-1994; 114-71, a .616 winning%

  • Solid, consistent football over twenty years.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
    -Andover regional heartbreaker loss at Unruh Stadium.

100 yard flip hip sprint to north end.
100 yard bear crawl back.

III.  Hold the Rope

A.  This is OUR HOUSE, this is OUR TURF!  We will crank it up an extra notch at home.

B.  Where do you want to fit into the Tiger Tradition?  Who in this group is going to Hold the Rope?
Coach Lane reads Hold the Rope while 5 min. Chain Wall Sit across stadium wall.

IV.  Breakdown – 50 yard line
Imagine:  Friday night in Clay Center, America. Walk as team to north end zone.

100 yard sprint to touch the “Otto Unruh Stadium” sign.

 

Unruh from scoreboard

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A Look Back: Hell Week Thursday

NOTE: This is a look in the rear view mirror at what we used to do for the first week of summer conditioning. It was dubbed “Hell Week” by participants. Thursday rolled around, our systems have been duly shocked and now it’s time to start the process of building a team attitude. Try to instill the importance of being the best you that you can be for the good of the team. Be part of the whole, not the whole part.

If there was an easier day to Hell Week, it had to be Thursday.  Speed work, low volume/high intensity, following our motto of getting faster by running fast,  then finishing the workout with agility cone runs.  The team building activity of having a blindfolded returning letter man being guided by underclassmen teammates through an obstacle course was a thing of beauty.  If, of course, you are the kind of person who considers a blindfolded, 250 lbs. offensive lineman (with a somewhat nasty disposition) trying to climb steps under the guidance of several scared-to-death-sophomores a thing of beauty.

Hell Week 2005

Thursday

Winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing.  You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do things right all the time.  Winning is a habit.”         -Vince Lombardi

6:30-6:40  Attitude and Self-Improvement

Attitude
1. “I’ll do it” instead of “I’ll try”
2.  Overcome the urge to quit or to not even try at all.

Self Improvement –identify weaknesses and improve

6:40-6:45  Stretch Runs

6:45-7:00  Sprint Ladder
10-4, 20-4, 40-2, 100-2   


7:00-7:15 Cut Circuit:  4 groups/4 flat cones per drill
1. Down and Backs – 3x
2. U-Turns – 3x Right and 3x left
3. Zig zags – 3x
4. Cut Drill – 3x down and 3x back

7:15 Hold the Rope – Freshman Read
Blindfold relay race.
Returning letterman blindfolded with team partners talking them through course.

Breakdown

Tigers 2006 runout

 

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A Look Back: Hell Week Tuesday & Wednesday

NOTE: This is a look in the rear view mirror at what we used to do for the first week of summer conditioning. It was dubbed “Hell Week” by participants. I had a local businessman tell me once that he knew when we had started summer conditioning each year because he’d see the boys walking around town like old men because they were so sore. I liked that. And in a couple weeks, the boys would start liking the athletic transformation their bodies would go through.

Tuesday of Hell Week was a day to actively recover from the shock of Monday.  Emphasis was put on warming up with our dynamic routine forcing oneself to obtain a full range of motion in the muscles.  Time to stretch out  the things we spent yesterday tightening up.  But don’t get confused thinking Tuesday was a vacation day.  It was simple, but it was hard.  Many kids this year still fondly remember the lunges up and down the hill at all possible angles.  The hill at Clay Center Community High School was (and still is) a real SOB.

Hell Week 2005

Tuesday

Winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing.  You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do things right all the time.  Winning is a habit.”         -Vince Lombardi

6:30-6:40  5 P’s  Purpose, Pride, Passion, Persistence, Performance

6:40-6:45  Stretch Runs

6:45-7:00  Hill Series (6 lines)
Runs- Forward and Back
Bear – Up and Down
Lunge Walk – Forward and Back, Diagonal Up & Down, Left and Right Across
Duck Walk – Forward, walk down

7:00-7:15  Four Corner Drill

7:15 Hold the Rope – Juniors Read
Team Cage Carry
1.  Seniors one lap.

2.  Returning lettermen, everyone else sits once then sit on cage.

3.  Whole Team

7:20  Abs – 50 Sit Ups

Breakdown

 

Wednesday of Hell Week, the day after the day after soreness is the worst.  Kids would be so sore they wouldn’t even be whining.  They would think it would be a somewhat easy day since we were repeating the body weight circuit.  That is how a teenage boy thinks, it HAS to be easier today than it was Monday, doesn’t it?  But, with the soreness being worked out,  it was just as hard.  Then the hammer comes down in the form off upper body plyometrics,  military push-ups, side to side push-ups, wheelbarrows, push-up walk, walk the plank and around the world push-ups.  Whoa, makes me hurt just thinking about it!

Hell Week 2005

Wednesday

Winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing.  You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do things right all the time.  Winning is a habit.”         -Vince Lombardi

6:30-6:40  Performance Triangle: Nutrition, Hydration and Rest

6:40-6:50  Stretch Runs

6:50-7:05  Body Weight Circuit

Jumping Jacks 50
Push-Ups 20
Crunch Series – 10 center, right, center, left, center
Lunges- 10 each leg
Navy Seals- 10
Sit-Ups- 20
Squat Jumps- 20
Push Ups Side to side- 10
Walk the Planks- 3 down and back
Split Lunge Jumps- 12
Crunch Series- 10 center, right, center, left, center
Squat and Touch- 15
Walkouts- 10
Sit Ups- 20
Around the Clock Lunges
Supermans- 2 x 30 seconds

7:05-7:15 Upper Body Plyos
1.  Military Push-ups, Side to Side Push-ups.
2.  Wheelbarrows, Push-up Walk
3.  Walk the Planks, Around the World Push-ups

7:15 Hold the Rope – Sophomores
Inverted Wall Hold

Breakdown

Tigers @ Royal Valley 2008

 

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A Look Back: Hell Week Monday

NOTE: This is a look in the rear view mirror at what we used to do for the first week of summer conditioning. It was dubbed “Hell Week” by participants. I always wanted to start the summer program as soon as possible after state track. Wait any longer and the high school kids slip into bad sleep and exercise habits that take ANOTHER full month to break. Another full month we are falling behind the competition. My belief was (and still is) that every day of training is vital and that one day wasted puts you three days behind.

Monday of Hell Week was designated as a “wake your body up” workout.  Not easy, but not too hard, just hard enough to make the kids conclude they needed to get to get in shape.  Below is the workout plan from 2005.  I think we had nine trash cans in the vicinity of the CCCHS gym and by the end of the second round of body weight circuit, they all had a young potential football player leaning over them.  Needless to say, the bodies were awake.

Hell Week 2005

Monday

Winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing.  You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do things right all the time.  Winning is a habit.”         -Vince Lombardi

6:30-6:40  Expectations
Make yourself better every day this summer…have fun and get better.
We need everyone to contribute in a positive fashion on and off field.
Find your niche and become great at what you do.

STAND TALL RULE
No bending over, sitting, leaning, kneeling…EVER
Bending over physically = Bending over mentally

6:40-6:50  Stretch Runs

6:50-7:05  Body Weight Circuit

Jumping Jacks 50
Push-Ups 20
Crunch Series – 10 center, right, center, left, center
Lunges- 10 each leg
Navy Seals- 10
Sit-Ups- 20
Squat Jumps- 20
Push Ups Side to side- 10
Walk the Planks- 3 down and back
Split Lunge Jumps- 12
Crunch Series- 10 center, right, center, left, center
Squat and Touch- 15
Walkouts- 10
Sit Ups- 20
Around the Clock Lunges
Supermans- 2 x 30 seconds

7:05-7:20 Agility Stations(~ 5min each.)
1.  Gate Drill
2.  5 Cone
3.  Full Moons/Half Moons
4.  5-10-5

7:20-7:30  Seniors- read “Hold the Rope”
Wall Sit 5 min.

cropped-tiger-huddle-20061.jpg

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Season of Thirds

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

CC@Abilene2009

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.

Tigers @ Royal Valley 2008

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.

tigers @ Atchison 2006

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Game Of Tears: September 14, 2001

It was Football Friday Night in America. Maybe it shouldn’t have been. Believe me, it was hotly debated before the decision was made to move forward with the week’s scheduled games. This was no ordinary Football Friday Night, this was the Football Friday Night a mere 80 hours after the tragedy of September 11, 2001. It was also only one of two times I’d been brought to tears associated with a football game, either as a coach or a player.

CONTACT/S: 30 Exhibition -ACP

In the grand scheme of things, football is not life. Sure there are ups and downs, wins and losses, injuries and triumphs all associated with this great game. Even so, I’ve never really felt the need to cry over a sport, even one I am so passionate about. But on that night, September 14, 2001, standing on a football field in my homeland of Wyandotte County, KS, tears streamed down my face from the emotion of that awful week in American history.

The powers that be in the state decided to go ahead and play the scheduled games that Friday. I don’t envy the people who made that decision; it had to be a difficult one to say the least. But we needed to move forward, we needed to establish a normalcy in our own backyards. We needed  to find some way to accept the inexplicable tragedy and restore some means of logic into our lives.

At Tuesday practice the evening of the tragic events, all I remember is that we were shell-shocked. I don’t recall much from that afternoon except trying to establish some sort of normal practice within the quagmire of shock. And these poor teenage boys asked question after question of which there were no answers to.

After we watched the horrific images on television, we tried to cope with the unimaginable event as best we could for the next two days. America was attacked on its own soil by terrorist. As hard as it was, we tried to keep this on the periphery and keep a football focus in order to give the kids a place to escape the tragedy, if only for a few hours.

Friday came. Game day. We made a two and a half hour bus trip to Kansas City Piper High School. The normal pre-game preparations ensued as game time crept closer. I was looking forward to this trip because this game was in Wyandotte County. I was born and raised in Wyandotte County, it is in my blood. It is a tough-minded place that produced tough-minded people. The whole Kansas City family was there and my own family made the trip also. I felt a great sense of pride coming home coaching the visiting team against a school I really hadn’t liked since the misguided days of my youth.

Both teams lined up before the game in the middle of the football field. Uniform color did not matter one bit as the kids and coaches and officials stood together for a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks. So there I stood in silence, the soil of my homeland holding me onto a planet tipping wildly out of control, questions and chaos threatening to punt me into the stratosphere of despair.

The moment of silence seemed to last forever and a day. There was nothing but stillness and quiet. No whispers and no jokes from even the most immature of teenage boys. No noise from the large crowds gathered, the traffic seemed to freeze in time and even the sun dove for the horizon in hues of orange across the cloud-tinged blue sky. Solemn. The very meaning of the word.

Then the National Anthem began and I think everyone within a ten mile radius of the stadium sang the Star Spangled Banner that night. It was beautiful. It was meaningful. Of the hundreds of times I’ve sang it in school and the thousands of times I’ve heard it at various events, it has never really hit an emotional string. But, this time, on Piper High School Field, mere days after terrorists attempted to destroy the very heart and soul of America, the national anthem hit home.

We sang it loud and we sang it poorly. Nobody cared. We were united. When we hit the last three lines, I think the true spirit, emotion, and meaning of the Star Spangled Banner flooded across me for the first time ever.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

I understood. The meaning was crystal clear. Our flag was still here, our country was still here, and it would take more than an act of terrorism to squash our spirit. The flood of emotions pent-up all week flowed down my cheeks in the tears. The horror, the sadness, the loss, the pain, and the total helplessness dripped with each salty tear from my eye.

I wasn’t sure whether it was right to play those games on the Friday night until that moment. It was the right thing to do. By moving forward with these sporting events it not only provided a distraction away from 24 hours of news coverage, it gave a reason for Americans to congregate and spend time with their community. It gave us a chance to begin the healing process.

We won more than a football game that night. We, as a group, learned to persevere and to move forward.

God Bless America!

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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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Tenets of #TigerFamily

History. Tradition. The age-old tenets of the Clay Center Community High School Tigers. It is our way of doing business. It is who we are. It is what we do. It is us being defined by our predecessors, following the character and the expectations passed from generation to generation, from decade to decade, and from season to season.

A young man lamented to me last month about how he felt they had no traditions at the high school anymore. He was frustrated. He didn’t seem to fully comprehend what it all means or how awesome it is to be a part of this wonderful tradition. #TigerFamily means more than a hashtag; it means more than just a catchy slogan.

There is a deep, historical standard in Clay County, KS. Not being a native citizen, I tried to learn as much as I could when I was an active part of the Tiger sports coaching family. I’ve heard the stories from former athletes, young and old. I’ve studied the Blackie (Lane) Book and Coach Otto Unruh’s How to Coach Winning Football more times than I dare count. What follows is my feeble attempt to distill all this tradition and all this history into a list of principles and beliefs on the meaning of Tiger Family.

Current and future Tiger Family members, we sit in the middle of a rarefied tradition in Clay Center. The torch is passed. The flame of tradition and history is now in your hands.

What are you going to do with it?

The Tenets 

  • Outwork everyone.
  • Earn everything. Expect nothing to be given.
  • Hit your opponent like a cannon shot, from the opening gun to closing bell.
  • Never back down, never give up.
  • Every man, every play.
  • Get better every day.
  • When the opponent puts their head on the chopping block, cut it off.
  • Hustle everywhere. Hustle is an attitude. Intimidate with hustle.
  • Take care of your own !@#$ business. Do your job.
  • Think explosive, train explosive, play explosive.
  • Be who you are while being part of the whole.
  • Earn respect, command respect.
  • Challenges, direction, discipline, and limits will make you better. Accept them.
  • Be relentless.
  • Luke 11:23 “He who is not with me is against me.”

(There is no order or rank of importance. All are equally important.)

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