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DHS has superior talent, coaching

Commentary by Mike Grayson/For The Demopolis Times

I have heard there are three groups of people. First, there are those that make things happen, then there are those that things happen to. Finally, there are those that wonder ‘what happened’?

The DHS – Livingston game this past Friday would easily fall into those groupings. First, DHS was group one; Livingston was definitely group three.

The River City Bengals raced to a 44-0 halftime lead, a little off the pace from the Greene County game the week before, yet still not bad for two quarters of play. If nothing else, the game plan objective was achieved; all of the Tiger starters at running back and receiver (Pettus, Schroeder, Miller, Roberts, Gracie, Jones and Burrell) found their way into the endzone for touchdowns. Even 9th grader Darius Fountain, playing in his last game as a DHS Tiger, ‘waterbugged’ in his name onto the score card in the waning moments of the game.

Talking with a business acquaintance from Montgomery whose daughter is a cheerleader at Trinity, and another from Mobile whose son is on the UMS Bulldog squad, both have asked the same question, “Is Demopolis really that good or are they just in a weak region?”

The answer: DHS is pretty good this year, just as they were pretty good last year and the year before. Region 4 is not a weak region, true enough Greensboro has had some problems this year and Dallas County has not exactly burned things up along the way, but still it would be erroneous to categorize the region as weak. As a matter of fact, MaxPreps.com ranks Region 4 as #4 (of 8). The assigned power ranking of 105.7 is just behind Region 2 (Trinity) at 107.4 and #3 Region 1 (UMS) at 107.2. The true unequivocal measurement of strength will be on the playing field as the four teams from Region 4 line up against the other regional teams in the playoffs, not in some computer ranking, opinion poll or popularity contest (state rankings).

The question they did not ask is, is DHS that well coached or do they simply have superior talent? The answer, yes. Championships require both, not to mention staying healthy and escaping injuries to key personnel.

What about luck or getting some breaks along the way? The amazing thing is whether its football or business, the harder you work and prepare, the luckier you get. Go figure. Things don’t just happen. Things happen (or don’t happen) because of something you do or something you failed to do. Many times the outcome of Friday’s game is determined by the mental aspect and physical prep work in Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice.

Bear Bryant was quoted as saying “you don’t coach 4.0 speed on a 6’4″ 240 pound player, that’s natural ability”.

Broadcasting the games from the press box over the past 5 years, there have been numerous occasions where my broadcast companiero, Mike Randall, and I have commented that the DHS opponent has really good athletic looking kids. Yet as the seconds tick down, DHS has run away with a lop sided team victory over a group of individual athletes. Coaching channels and molds the talent into a cohesive unit.

A coach can truly get ‘out coached’ by not making adjustments during a game or not developing a game plan throwing his strength against the other guy’s weakness. A coach can teach fundamentals, demand a drill be repeated ad nausem until near perfection is achieved and concoct truly brilliant schemes but until he instills mental discipline in his charges he is spitting into the proverbial wind. Robert E. Lee said it best, “Discipline makes punishment unnecessary”.

A player can have the best coaches in the business working with him, teaching the fine points of the game; he can possess all the athletic skills; he can be a physical specimen; he can completely understand the game; he can be a great person liked by everyone and is considered very ‘coachable’; yet he may never reach the sanctified mountain top pinnacle of a championship.

The aforementioned attributes are without a doubt important. They are crucial. They are vital. They are essential components, yet they are as useless as a luxury Benz without a drop of petro in the tank. Unlike a Mercedes that requires a tangible agent to propel it, the champion is driven by an intangible. It is called ‘heart’.

Heart is what makes a player find a way to win. Heart makes him go another series when his mind tells him it’s all over – there’s no use; Heart pushes and pulls a hurting and fatigued player in the fourth quarter; Heart does not allow a champion to get down on his teammates when the going is rough and tough. Heart can not be coached, either a player has got it or he doesn’t. Heart will carry a player long after the physical skills run out. Heart will continue to move the player once his athletic days are over and the realities of life are now the adversarial opponent in a game that is played for keeps.

I did not tell my friends from Montgomery or Mobile about the heart I’ve seen from some of the guys in the Royal Blue like Ray Williams and Clarke Kerby playing when it might be easier to take some time off and rest up; or playing every play like the game depends on that one play like Ezell Braxton, Jacob Smelly, and Vincent Jackson; or finding a way to win like Dontrell Miller, Chad Schroeder and Devin Goodwin; or simply refusing to be denied from accomplishing their mission like William Burrell, Chris Cupit and Seth Basinger.

So, is it superior coaching or is it pure talent? The view from the press box is: yes it sure is. Thank you for asking and have yourself a nice day.