Owens kepts driving toward the next win

By DON WALLACE, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 29, 2008 - Coaches just keep on coaching.

At least the good ones do.

Sulphur Springs head coach Greg Owens was not happy Friday night following the district opener.

Sure, the Wildcats won.

Yes, they scored more than 50 points for the third time in five games.

The Wildcats are scoring 45 points a game and ranked in the Top 10 in the state.

That all matters little to Owens, because he is a hard-driving coach. He was not mad or upset at his team Friday. They got the win and began district with a 1-0. But he was disappointed at the way they won. The way they were soft at times as he called it and played to the level of the competition.

Any fan who was at the game knows that Pine Tree is not one of the top teams in the district. The Pirates scored 27 points through tricks and playing over their heads at times.

Owens is just worried that if the Wildcats gave up four scores and almost 350 yards to Pine Tree, what will happen when the top teams in the district, like Longview, come to town.

Owens knows lots of work is still to be done. So he keeps grinding.

Any coach worth his salt does the same thing. They keep coaching because they know they have a chance to out-work and out-scheme the other guy. They also have to have their team prepare for anything which might come up.

Jacksonville College head basketball coach Vernon Harton's team has beaten national power the San Jacinto Junior College Ravens more often than most. But in one of his first wins over the nationally-ranked San Jac team the Jaguars won in overtime. The fans flooded the gym floor with excitement, hooting and hollering. Harton's first comment to the press was "we should have made more free throws."

That's because he's a hard-grinding coach. He explained later, that yes, he was excited by the win, but not by the way his team played during the end of the game. "If we hit our free throws, there's no need for overtime," he said.

Coaches are always coaching.

I once toured a field house and looked over the displays of past players, some now in the college ranks. I also looked at the rack of trophies. The district football championship trophies were lined up, at the end of the line was a small empty slot. I asked about the vacant space. Had the trophy been stolen or lost. The coach said with a smile, "that place is for the next one."

Coaches are always coaching. Thinking ahead, being prepared. Trying to get their team in the best position to play well and win. They leave no stole uncovered.

Owens' office is located just a few steps from the Sulphur Springs trophy case. Where teams from bygone years have their awards and names remembered. He wants to make sure he gets the most out of his players and his team so they can follow in the rich tradition of Wildcat football.

The Sulphur Springs practices are peppered with phrases from the coaches to fire up the players. "Do you like being mediocre?" the coaches ask. "It's hot in (fill in the team here) too and they have to practice."

The urge the players to do their best and not accept being average. Because the good coaches keep coaching.

I am always amazed at the details coaches go through to make a team well. Owens calls it doing the little things right. He says if you do enough little things right, they become big things. Like a downfield block, could turn a short run into a long touchdown, if the things are done right.

Vince Lombardi was known for his drive and dedication to making his teams, mainly the Green Bay Packers, the best they could be. It had been told and retold of the coaching seminars he would hold. At one eight hour seminar, Lombardi talked about the Packer sweep. One play, for eight hours. That's attention to detail.

Sure Owens is happy that the Wildcats are 1-0 in district. But he's thinking of the teams to come. Sulphur Springs is the defending district champions, they've won 14 of the last 16 games they've played it.

But it is not good enough. The next chance for a win comes Friday against Longview.

Coaches, like Greg Owens, can't give themselves the luxury of looking back at what has been done. The next battle is on the horizon.

The players are getting ready. And the coaches keep on coaching.

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