Monday, October 26, 2009

Tale of Two Seasons

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Football really took a toll on by blog production this year. Coaching both kids teams left me very little free time. I couldn't even get in my weekly game summaries. I was finally able to watch a game on TV for fun. It was for the boys, so it was all worth it. But life was hectic this season. For everyone.

I am normally a stickler (OK, anal) for getting a certain amount of posts in each month. But rather than trying to draft, edit, and post a series of entries retroactively, I will just create this one time catch up post. I hope to encapsulate the entire season in one entry:

I should probably start with the oldest child. As I eluded to in my preseason posts, this was a turnaround season for Caz. He was re-introduced to football. The right way. Caz found joy in playing football again. That is something that I will be ever grateful. He actually looked forward to playing each week, and going to practice. His first school assignment was all built around a football theme. He took Coach Flintstone's mantra's to heart. He wrote that what he liked about himself most was that he was a "good all around player." He promised to give his every effort to work hard to improve in all areas. I really got a kick out of seeing that assignment at Open House during the first few weeks of school. Such a turnaround from last year.

It may be coincidence but some important parts of the sort clicked for Caz this year. He has always been fast. This year, he was clearly the fastest on his team. He's always been above average in athletic ability and coordination. But there are intangibles that you can't flick a switch to start, coach, cajole, teach, or will to happen. You can only encourage aggressiveness and instinct. Then you have to be patient. Either it will happen or it won't. I know my first year of playing football, I was very tentative and cautious in games. I was that way in practice to an extent, but more so in actual games. (No doubt about where Caz got his yeoman's share of the caution gene)

This year, right out of the gate, Caz was attacking on defense with his tackling. He was hitting. He was running with purpose and running hard. In his first game, he made a couple of bone jarring tackles. I took to showing him some videos of Walter Payton and Earl Campbell before his games. I was illustrating how they ran hard, didn't hesitate, and delivered a hit, even while running. They were aggressive and hard hitters, but on the offensive side of the ball. It really resonated with Caz. This was reinforced by one of Caz's coaches, who kept teaching him how to stiff arm defenders. Caz was able to takes this coaching and put it to use on the field. He really ran hard. He punished defenders. He had the longest runs from scrimmage on the team this year. He had a 45 yard TD run and a 65 yard run that set up a TD. (Since the team only scored 3 TD's all season, he accounted for 33% of the scoring). Unfortunately, I didn't see either of them. But that is a story for another post.

On defense, Caz started the season at CB. That is a key position for this age. Since there is not a lot of passing, I am not billing him as the second coming of Neon Deion. But if a RB gets outside and to the sideline at this level, it's a sure fire TD. So you need a disciplined kid, that will stay home, and hold the edge of your defense. While as a parent, I might debate his level of "discipline", he does do what he is told. He actually does listen to his coaches (yes, even including his old man). He really played the positions well. So well in fact, that with his new found size and willingness to hit, he was moved to DE. This is the other key position on D for holding the edge and containing the other O from getting outside. His first foray into the position was decided on game day, by my mentor, Coach Lenny. He got a 5 minute tutorial before the game, on how to play the position. It was totally unfair to have any expectation of sustained success. But that first game, he looked like a natural. He really played a monster game.

I can't say enough about this season for Caz. It was really fun for all of us.

Moving on to my youngest son, I can tell you that he still loves playing the game. Even with his old man as full time head coach this year, he still had fun. Coco remained a solid tackler. However, he seemed to become a bit cautious this year. Yes, it may mean that he was fighting his old man's genetics. But it may also be a function of his strategic thinking. Instinctually, he is a fighter. He attacks on D. But he's really a strategist too. It may be, that it was taking too long for him to process and decide his strategy. I may have play the "football is a thinking man's sport" card too often.

Coco played a number of positions for us on Defense this year. He played CB, DE, OLB, and ILB. Though he's a skinny kid (takes after his mom), he's tall for his age (hoping again he gets the height gene from Demi's side). So he was able to play DE, with not too much problem. But his speed allowed him to play CB and both LB positions as well. He also does what he is told. He had the discipline to hold the edge and contain. For some reason though, he didn't seem to be able to kick it into that extra gear to track down a runner, like he had in the past. I have some theories on that but will save that for my post on my season of coaching. Coco was versatile. And he knew it. He was proud of it. Rightfully so. I knew that I could call his name and insert him anywhere on a moment's notice. I didn't have to explain much. He'd get it instantly. It was a nice luxury to have.

On offense, again, Coco was a renaissance man. He played TB, FB, WB, TE, and G. He ran hard. He was one of the few, and actually maybe the only kid, to run to the hole and not to the QB to get the ball. He hit the hold hard and fast. He ran North/South very well. In the past, he's proven to be very instinctual and shifty. It may have been circumstances (the overall team blocking was suspect) but he wasn't able to be elusive. There was one run against the 4th grade team that stood out, but that's was really it. He knew all the plays though. And he knew where everyone should be on each play. That I can tell you for certain, he gets from his Dad.

Overall, Coco's season was successful. He wasn't flashy, but that is just fine. He was solid. He got the job done. He improved each week. And he had fun. That's really all I can ask of him.

People always say that the winning is not important at those ages. But then they always seem to ask your record. So Coco was 0-7-1 and Caz was 0-8. Both teams struggled on Offense. Both got shut out often. Caz's team scored 3 TD's all season. Coco's only scored 2 more than that. I would guess that Coco's team had a lot more first downs and total yardage. Defensively, both teams would point to that as their strengths. Coco's team was probably stronger on D. Both teams struggled from bouts with poor tackling and lack of aggressiveness. Both teams seemed to start games slowly. So while there were no wins, the kids shrugged that off. I wish I could say the same of all the parents. This kids got better each week. And the kids had fun. I declare both seasons a success.