Michael Youngblood becomes the next head coach expected to win a state championship for the Thomson Bulldogs. Youngblood has played and coached on championship teams so his resume` suggests he knows what it takes, but there’s a bigger question than does Youngblood have what it takes. Does Thomson have what it takes?
Does Thomson, the school, community, boosters, Board of Education, administration, middle school program, student-athletes, their parents, cheerleaders, band, you name it, have what it takes for Thomson to win another state championship? There are many moving parts to any football program and rarely does the head coach have an iron-clad grip on every facet and the authority or time to control it all. That happens only at the University of Alabama.
Winning a state football championship should be easier than it has ever been because the GHSA is watered down into seven classifications with eight playoff brackets. It may be tougher than ever because of so many internal and external factors beyond the control of the head football coach.
Today’s head coaches, their staffs and players can seldom function without distractions, contentiousness, innuendo and interference coming at them from every angle. It is simply a sign of the times that every living soul who decides to weigh in demands to have their opinions, wants, wishes and desires promptly addressed even when it comes to the local football team. Thomson is no different.
Thomson’s young student-athletes may aspire to be great like their daddies, granddaddies and uncles, but can’t fathom what created their success. It was not only great coaching and playing, but total support and encouragement from a school system and community who found the means to flourish rather than to create roadblocks to success.
Like any new coach, Youngblood will enjoy a brief honeymoon period, and he will need it. Last year’s roster included 24 seniors. The loss to Cartersville in the 2016 state championship was a cold dose of reality. The 2018 schedule is frontloaded tough. The booster club is pleading for participation. Youngblood has a lot of work to do beyond the weight room and practice field. Will we continue to engage in a turf war, or allow him to thrive?
There will be some who like that Youngblood is Thomson’s first African-American head football coach, some who won’t and others who won’t even think about it. Some will withhold their support and others may selfishly try to exploit him. It is time to forget about who the head coach is or isn’t and start thinking about the kids who are involved in football and its support mechanisms. We must start by trusting Coach Youngblood and his methods.
If the players will buy into what Youngblood is selling, then we should too. Thomson can win another state championship, but not if we demand that Youngblood to do it all by himself and fail to support him. It will be interesting to see how we the adults, as well as the players, respond to his leadership. If you won’t or can’t help, then at least stay out of his way.