Keys to the Gold Ball
To win a state championship is a great accomplishment. It is the goal of every coach and team that takes the field. To defend a state championship is even more difficult. This Friday, Yuma Catholic High School embarks on its quest for a second state championship and to be honest it would be their third in a row except for a misguided pass.
How do they do it? I'm going to tell you. Agree or disagree, that's what a Monday sports column is supposed to do. If I step on some feet or hurt some feelings — sorry that's the way I see it.
Discipline is the key to the success of any team. An undisciplined team will never reach its potential, no matter what kind of talent they have. The Yuma Catholic Shamrocks are disciplined. Every response between player and coach is followed by “Yes, sir” or “No, Sir.” Maybe an antiquated phrase, but one that sets the tone for everything they do. Every practice, pre-game and half time is executed to the minute. When you haven't had an unsportsmanlike foul called on any of your players in six years, your players are under control.
Team work is the backbone of any organization not just football. Everybody must be a part. Cody Hazlett has gained 2,000 yards this year. That's a great accomplishment. His offensive lines are the ones praised most by their coaches.
The most important element of team work is not just your starters, it's those 20-some that seem to blend into the crowd on the sidelines. The second teamers must step up when a starter goes down, and Yuma Catholic has a knack for putting a sub in that does his job.
In the day and age of the pistol, the quarterback read, and the spread offense, there is only one thing that will enable Yuma Catholic to win another state championship — fundamentals. If you don't block, run and tackle well, you lose. For all the plays and formations Yuma Catholic runs, the things they do best are run the ball and play good defense. It's sometimes boring, but boring and execution win games.
Private vs. Public
Yuma Catholic is a private school with 270 students, 140 are boys. Six of their victories have come against schools three or four times their size. Three of the teams they defeated-Buckeye, Estrella Foothills and River Valley are playoff teams in a higher division. That is a tremendous accomplishment.
I have coached against private schools before Rhett Stallworth was running around with a football and short pants at Post Elementary. Some have been bad, some fair, others good and a few excellent. Some recruit, some don't. I don't think Catholic has produced any Division I players. As a matter of fact, only a few have gone on to play football at any level. Their offensive line this year averages 195 pounds a man. Their fastest player runs a 4.7 forty. That's not going to attract Coach Saban of Alabama.
To put it bluntly, public schools aren't the same as they were 20 or 30 years ago.
The Yuma Factor
In a town that's not had many state championships in football, Yuma Catholic has a chance to do something no other school has done — win back-to-back championships. These boys on the field are Yumans. They represent our town in a positive manner. I wish the Cibola Raiders the best of luck in the playoffs and any and all schools from Yuma that find success at state.
The record shows that the Shamrocks are winning at a record pace. They win against public schools, private schools and schools four times their size. Give credit where credit is due. Yuma Catholic is the name of the gold ball. Don't be surprised if you see another one.