September 25, 2009 8:07:00 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
CALEDONIA — David Boykin is a positive person who loves football.
One of the things he enjoys most about coaching is the camaraderie members of a staff develop breaking down film, working at practice, or developing new schemes and strategies.
While there are formations and plays sketched out on the dry erase board to his left, Boykin often finds himself alone in the coaches office in the Caledonia High School field house.
Boykin has so much time to himself because he is one of only three coaches for the Class 4A Caledonia High School football team.
With three coaches, Caledonia has one of the smallest coaching staffs for a school of its size in the state.
“We’re fielding our staff at 50 percent,” said Boykin, whose Confederates (0-4) play at Hamilton (2-3) at 7:30 tonight. “If I give you 50-percent effort and I am working for you, you are going to fire me. I feel we’re being shortchanged. I am being shortchanged because I have three coaches. We are not going to ask somebody to give us 50-percent effort on the football field. I want 100 percent.”
Veteran coach John Wilson works with Caledonia High’s defense, while Morgan Mansfield, who also is the school’s boys soccer coach, is the third member of the coaching staff.
Mansfield also works with the junior high team and is not able to attend varsity practice every day during the week.
Boykin said he recommended to Caledonia High principal Randy Barnett that one coach from last year’s staff not be retained.
Boykin also said former Caledonia High football coach James Reed, who is the school’s cross country and track and field coach, couldn’t coach football due to health reasons.
The decisions left Boykin, who was hired in June to replace Jason Forrester, with little time or opportunity to find suitable coaches to join his staff.
To make matters worse, Boykin said there weren’t any openings for teachers at the high school, which made it even tougher for him to find quality coaches to complete his staff.
Boykin is allowed to have two more varsity assistant coaches and a ninth-grade head coach.
“There are not enough hours in the day to get done what we have to get done,” Boykin said. “The more manpower you have the better off you are. We don’t have it, and it makes it tough on everybody who is involved in the process.”
Boykin coached Caledonia High to records of 3-7 in 2006 and ’07. He left the school after the ’07 season to work as a volunteer offensive line coach with Mark Hudspeth at the University of North Alabama.
When Hudspeth left UNA to take a job as an assistant coach on Dan Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State, Boykin opted to return to Caledonia High to try to kick start what he began three years ago.
Boykin, who teaches five geography/social studies classes at Caledonia High, believes a football program can be built at the school, but he said it is increasingly difficult for the coaches to do everything they need to do on and off the field to help put the team in the best position possible to compete with its district rivals.
“How do you break up a high school football team with three coaches?” Boykin said. “I have pulled my hair out trying to figure out how I am going to arrange my practice schedule with three coaches. We have to coach every aspect of the game to get it done.”
Noxubee County, the defending Class 4A state champion, has six coaches (head coach M.C. Miller and five assistants). Miller said he also has two volunteer assistant coaches.
Louisville, which won the Class 3A title the past two years and moved up to Class 4A this season, has 10 coaches (head coach Brad Peterson and nine assistant coaches).
Amory High, another district rival, has seven coaches (head coach Pat Byrd and six assistant coaches who are full-time teachers).
New Hope High coach Michael Bradley, whose team defeated Caledonia 30-0 last Friday, said a football team that doesn’t have enough coaches is just like a business that doesn’t have enough employees. He said something is going to suffer as a result of the shortage.
“The situation they are in is a tough one,” Bradley said. “If he only has two coaches with him that is tough, especially coaching against some of the coaches he has to compete with.”
Bradley, who coaches at a Class 5A school, has four varsity assistant coaches on his staff. He said all of the assistant coaches pull some kind of double duty in the school’s athletic department.
Bradley said any sport would feel the impact from not having enough coaches. But he said football teams are different because they have more players and need more eyes watching all of the players to correct mistakes and to teach fundamentals.
“It is such a specialized sport now,” Bradley said. “Back in the day you had a guy who coached offense and a guy who coached defense, and a lot of guys played offense and played defense. Now you just have kids who play on one side of the ball. If you don’t do that at the Class 4A and 5A level, you’re going to get beat. You can run a kid from here to China, but if you’re matching him up against fresh kids he is eventually going to wear down. That is the situation Caledonia is in. They don’t have enough kids out and they don’t have enough coaches to coach the kids they have.
“There has to be a commitment to being successful. You can’t ask a carpenter to build a house without tools. A carpenter has to have the proper tools and material to build a house. Coaches are the tools and the kids are the material. You have got to have both.”
Boykin said his job is made “easier” by the fact that Caledonia High has only 40 players on its football team. That number is low for a Class 4A school, but Boykin said he and his assistant coaches still have trouble finding the time to do everything they need to do.
“They don’t get the individual coaching they deserve,” Boykin said. “As a coach with a young team wanting to build for the future, it really handicaps us and our team for the future because we’re not able to give them the basic individual fundamentals you need to go through to be successful years down the road.”
Boykin said is doing his best to get the “most bang for his buck” in practice each week. Ideally, he said he would have coaches for each position to provide instruction and to help players improve.
“In everything we do we want to go 150 miles an hour,” Boykin said. “When I am taking a job I am looking at it and saying we’re going to go in and turn things around, we’re going to have good coaches and a quality staff. You never think about not having enough coaches. That never even crossed my mind that we wouldn’t be able to fill a six-man coaching staff here.”
Boykin said he doesn’t want to point fingers or to use excuses. He said he would expect Caledonia High to win even if he was the team’s only coach. But he said if the kids are going to be asked to do everything possible to bring this program around, he wants to make sure he gets all of the help he needs to fill at least a six-member coaching staff.
“When you really start to fine-tooth comb it, that’s when you really can see having a limited number of coaches hurts you,” Boykin said. “I can’t watch every position at one time. You learn that when you coach on big staffs.”
Boykin said Caledonia High principal Randy Barnett does a good job and tried to help him find coaches to help him before the season started in August. He said football isn’t the high school’s only sport that has difficulty finding quality coaches to lead its teams. He said the high school, the junior high, and the elementary school have to work together to make sure all of the high school’s teams have quality coaching staffs.
The Caledonia High football program hasn’t had coaching stability since Jack Hankins went 27-45 in seven seasons at the school. Hankins led the school to its first playoff appearance in 2004 (6-5 record). That finish was the only time in the past 15 years Caledonia has had a winning record. The Confederates are 40-117 i
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.