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Prep football coaches: The ultimate optimists

August 21, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

If there's one thing I've learned over the last four Augusts, it's that preseason practice brings out the optimist in every high school football coach.

From all corners of the Tri-State area - from Berkeley Springs to Walkersville, from Chambersburg to Musselman and every Middletown in between - it's impossible to walk past a field without hearing words such as "potential," "talent," "upside," and so on and so forth.

Which is exactly how it should be.

Now, I know the pessimists in us tend not to believe any of the hype. If you're a follower of a team that's been struggling for a few years, you reach a point where you expect them to continue to struggle.

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The truth is, it doesn't much matter how fans - or, for that matter, the media - expect a team to perform.

What matters is what that team's coaches and players expect from themselves. If the coaches and players enter August expecting another losing season, then there's a problem.

I can tell you, I've never met a coach who predicted a losing season in August. I've also never seen a player who's gone through the two-a-days saying to a teammate, "I can't wait for another 2-8 season."

Right now, every team is dreaming of conference titles, playoff appearances and state championships - and why not?

A few years ago, I traveled to Berkeley Springs when the Indians were on down times. I still remember how positive coach Angelo Luvara was that his program was going to turn a corner - and they did. The Indians made the W.Va. AA playoffs last year, and could very well get there again.

If Berkeley Springs can become a playoff team, it can be done at any school, any time. I promise, there will be a team this year that surprises people (including me) and wins a conference title and/or makes the playoffs.

So here's to the coaches who stay upbeat, and the kids who buy into the enthusiasm. They're what make high school football so great.

If you want to know my impressions so far ...

n North Hagerstown should not be overlooked. The Hubs' non-conference schedule (Southern Garrett, Hedgesville, Frederick, Francis Scott Key) is brutal, but if they survive it, North could make some serious dents in the MVAL Antietam Conference.

(In the interest of fairness, yes, I'm a North alum. However, I stand by my impression.)

n Give Jefferson coach Don Tucker a little time, and he will have the Cougars making yearly trips to the W.Va. AAA state tournament. I've talked to Tucker twice, and I already know he's the kind of guy that, were I playing for him, I'd give everything I have for him. I wouldn't be shocked if Jefferson finishes above .500 this year.

There will be much more high school football covered in our 2003 Preview Guide, coming next Friday.

Of course, the guide will be loaded with potential, talent and upside - just like any preview package should be.




Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at kauffman@herald-mail.com

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