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A Little Advice for the Panthers, Coach
Ultimately the final responsibility for how a high school football team performs on the field rests on the shoulders of the head coach.
Panther field boss Bob Prescott isn’t ducking that responsibility and is instead seeking it out. The intensely focused Panther mentor did something for the first time in the final minutes of last Friday night’s game at Tri High. He broke from his concentration on the game and walked up to me on the sideline.
“I want you to know that it is clearly my responsibility that we weren’t ready to play tonight,” Prescott said. “I take full responsibility for that. Please print that.”
He then turned back toward the field and continued making substitutions, ensuring that every player on the roster saw action in the game.
Following the game the coach addressed some area media in attendance, repeating the statement and taking full responsibility for the various breakdowns that once again occurred on the field.
For more than 30 years I have reported on high school football games for various newspapers across the country. I have rarely seen a football team display as many highs and lows as this year’s edition of the Knightstown Panthers.
This is a 2-5 team that could easily be 5-2 or even 6-1 right now if it weren’t for that darn “human element” that rears its ugly head every Friday night.
According to me, I know a thing or two about high school football. If I don’t at least pretend to be smart, is there anybody out there who will think I am?
With that in mind, I have some advice for the coach of the Panthers and players on his team. These five little pieces of information may or may not help the situation, but I’m a sportswriter and I love to hear myself type.
***First of all coach, you are right in accepting full responsibility, but that doesn’t make you entirely responsible. All of the players must execute the scheme and their inconsistency in doing so has been problem number one.
***Understand that nobody expected this year’s team to go 14-1 and play in Dome for a state title. You guys are pretty much in line of expectations of a mini-poll I conducted prior to the kickoff of the first game. In many areas you continue to get better and before this season is over, someone is going to pay the price for that improved play.
***Offensive line: your quarterback isn’t the man of steel. Joe Haase has been hit behind the line of scrimmage more than 30 times in the last three games. Block somebody in passing formations.
***Before the Tri game half of the Panthers looked like they were attending a wake. Trey McColley and Brandon Grubbs: you guys are the best running back and offensive lineman I’ve seen this season. Your positions of leadership on this team are without question. Get more vocal and spread that around. Fire your teammates up and take your fellow Panthers to the next level of play.
***Loosen up and play high school football. Doing so involves having fun. I don’t know if you guys noticed or not but the Knightstown fans in attendance have far out-numbered the available seats at home and away games all season long. They bring their “A” game every week. Win or lose the fans are a united front, so tuck in that example and run with it. The real season beings in three weeks with sectional play so there’s plenty of time to have a little fun and get prepared.
The Panthers aren’t 2-5 because of coaching, talent or heart – all of those are in place.
There have been crucial penalties, costly turnovers and untimely big plays by more experienced opposition. All of those problems are corrected by leaders stepping up and players executing the game plan.
Do that and you’ll be one of the most dangerous teams in Sectional 37.
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