Success not totally measured by the numbers

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 28, 2008

The Opp Bobcats football team took what they got at the beginning of the season and made it all the way to the Class 4A state playoffs.

The Bobcats (5-6, 5-2 in Class 4A, Region 2) advanced to the first round of the playoffs in Mobile before falling to UMS-Wright.

Head coach Jack Whigham said overall, he wished that his team had won more games this year.

“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t win more games than we did,” Whigham said. “You always want to win more than you lose, but I don’t think the success of the year can be totally measured in the number of wins and losses.

“I know fans like to do that, but we as coaches have to look at some other things,” he said. “I think we had some kids overachieve this year and play a lot better than we thought they could.”

Whigham said one thing that led to his team’s success this season was being prepared and getting to a good start early in the season.

“I think we were a good conditioned football team,” he said. “I think early in the year that helped us especially. We outlasted some teams early in the year that probably had a little bit more talent than we did. It gave us a chance early in the year to stay in the game towards the end of games.”

Whigham added the team had good chemistry and jelled on the field.

“I think for the most part we had a good team concept,” Whigham said. “Everybody did their part. I know offensively we had a lot of kids that were unselfish. We shared the running load really with three kids. Not one kid ran more than others. They complimented each other well with that.”

For high school football teams, the success of the season is determined when teams find the game where everything works the right way.

Whigham said that started to happen in the St. James game.

“I thought we probably played our best game against St. James offensively, defensively and in the kicking game,” he said. “We played our most complete game against them. We had challenged our kids that week to start fast and if we got a lead to really play hard as we could.”

At the UMS-Wright game, the Bobcats only scored 14 points compared to Wright’s 49.

Whigham said he knew that the Bulldogs were a good team going into the contest.

“We knew they were going to be a good team,” Whigham said. “UMS is a team that has gone deep in the playoffs for several years and has won three state championships. They know how to play and know how to prepare themselves for the playoffs.

“Our kids prepared for that week,” he said. “As of (Tuesday) right now sitting here, we played them just about as good as anybody else has played them in the playoffs. They were physically stronger than we were. Their linemen were stronger than our kids and that’s another thing we’ve learned.”

That lesson, according to Whigham, is getting back in the weight room and working on the size of the team.

This year, Whigham said his team accomplished their goals and that when it was over, the players were disappointed and hungry for more.

“I think again it’s measured more in wins and losses,” he said. “For the first time I saw some genuine hurt at the end of the season. Some of our seniors in the past, a few individual kids were hurt that the season was over, but this year our seniors as a whole were upset that the season was over.

“I think it hurt them that they didn’t do as well as they wanted to and I think they enjoyed playing football. When the last game was over I think they understood that it was going to be something they were going to miss. So, that made me realize that that was something they enjoyed their time with.”

On what needs to be worked on for next year, Whigham said the coaches will be doing a lot more teaching.

“I think sometimes we’ve got to, as coaches, realize that we can’t assume that kids know certain things about the game,” Whigham said. “We’ve got some kids that play football that don’t understand all there is to know about football and some basic things about the game. I think we take that for granted sometimes and I think that we need to teach the complete game and not think that the kids necessarily understand the situation.

“There are some basic things about the game that the kids don’t understand,” he said. “I think it comes from not watching the game.”

Right now, the Bobcats are in their off-season weight program where players are lifting weights five days a week and in the spring that schedule will change to lifting three days a week and running two days a week.

Overall, Whigham said the season was good and that he has learned a lot about what will lie ahead in the future.

“I think our coaches did a good job,” Whigham said. “I think our assistant coaches did a good job day in and day out of giving our kids a chance to win and we’ve got to adapt some of those things we do. We can’t be stubborn. I can’t be stubborn and say we’re going to do certain things if they’re not working out.”

“Then we’ve got to adapt what we do to give our kids the best opportunity to win,” he said. “If it means to change the defense and the way we practice, we’ve got to do the research and see what makes the best fit. Right now, we’ve got some kids that can do some things with the ball a little bit. The challenge to us is to get them on the field. If that means that we have to change some of our formations with some things offensively to get the kids on the field, then we need to do that.”