2017-08-10 / Front Page

Tigers and new ‘culture’ will be tested Friday at Hart Co.

By SPARKY NEWSOME
editor and publisher


Some 58 W-W Tigers, their coaches, and trainers are working daily to prepare for this Friday’s pre-season scrimmage at Hart County. Some 58 W-W Tigers, their coaches, and trainers are working daily to prepare for this Friday’s pre-season scrimmage at Hart County. There’s a new “culture” at Washington Wilkes Comprehensive High School and all over Wilkes County and 58 of its most dedicated members will test its merits when the W-W Tigers line up at Hart County to give football fans their first glimpse of the 2017 team under the leadership of new Head Coach and Athletic Director Chad Alligood.

After a short spring practice under the new regime, the Tigers spent the summer working to get Alligood’s program installed. The coach knew it would be critical to have everybody on board and for summer workouts, he had just that. Out of 58 players on the roster, 50 of them had perfect attendance and six others missed just one day.

“We got more of the culture installed,” Alligood reported, and he wasn’t talking about just offense, defense, and special teams. The players were taught about how the new program operates, the expectations of being on time, doing what they’re supposed to do – those types of things.


Linebackers and other Tigers get specialized drills and workouts as W-W gets its new system installed. Linebackers and other Tigers get specialized drills and workouts as W-W gets its new system installed. “When I say culture – there is a set way that you have to do things to be successful” Alligood said. “Everybody wants to be successful but it takes more than ‘want.’ There has to be rhyme and reason as to why you do everything. There has to be a process – success doesn’t just happen.”

Ideally, Alligood’s culture will encompass the entire community, but he’s starting with his players and at the school. For example, he required all his players to sit in the front row in their classes (and he checks on them daily) and wear white socks at practice. “If you can’t follow those little things,” he said, “ then there’s no way that I can depend on you on third-and-eight to make a play. It all correlates and it all just goes together.”


“Practice makes Perfect” as W-W Tigers tough it out in the summer heat preparing for the 2017 season. “Practice makes Perfect” as W-W Tigers tough it out in the summer heat preparing for the 2017 season. The kids have been easy, he said, “but you have to get everybody to buy in to the culture. It’s more than just show up, practice, and go play a game – that’s the small part. It’s all the other things that allow you to win.”

Though Alligood says he is not especially a fan of Alabama’s Nick Sabin or the Patriot’s Bill Belichick, he also says they win because of the culture they require their people to conform to. And if they don’t conform to it, they can go somewhere else.

“It’s year round, not just from August to December,” Alligood said. “There’s no reason we can’t be an elite program.

“The kids know that,” he continued. “They want structure and they want to know where the line is. Most of the time, they’ll be on the right side of that line. But they are going to get away with what you allow them to. It’s human nature.”

TEMPO, LOVE, COMPETE

Alligood’s culture is characterized through his motto, “Tempo, Love, Compete,” which has already permeated all facets of the sports programs at W-WCHS and is growing in familiarity throughout the school and all over Wilkes County. It’s a motto he has had personally for a long time with plans to use for his team when he became head coach. It is painted on the walls all over the field house, inside and outside, and the players chant it to boost spirits during practice.

Alligood briefly explained the motto’s three points.

“Tempo is urgency and there has to be urgency every day,” he explained. “Every minute has got to be accounted for because we cannot go back and get them. You’ve got to find that rhythm and sense of urgency that works for you. It’s human nature to waste time or put off.”

Love. “After practice every day I make them walk around and shake each others hands and tell each other ‘Thank you,’ and ‘I love you,’ he said. “That’s the greatest ingredient of all because love will make you do some crazy things. Good things. It will make you fight for the guy next to you – you won’t want to let him down. If you love this staff, and this school, and this city, you’re going to make sure you do the right things because you don’t want to disappoint the things you love.”

Compete. “You better have that competitive nature inside you or you’re going to get run over by this world. I’m not talking about just a game, but life. You’ve got to be competitive in everything.”

The coach said if his players will just buy in to those three things – a sense of urgency, love, and being a competitor – “it will carry them, not just in football, but way through life. It’s been good to me.”

LEADERSHIP

Twenty-two seniors are on the 2017 Tiger roster, and they have “really, really, really bought in to the way that we’re doing things and that’s been a huge help,” Alligood said. “They have played a lot of football and there will be a lot of seniors starting on the field Friday night. That’s beneficial to a new staff coming in because those seniors have playing experience, they have been in the weight room for three years, and they are buying in to what we’re asking.”

So it’s been an easy transition so far for the new coaching staff and Alligood feels good about the leadership. “We have six or seven guys who have really taken the reins to become leaders,” he said, but with reservation, added, “It’s not where it needs to be because the best teams are player-led and right now I think we are still coach-led. They are still trying to figure out what I want, but we have a few guys trying to step up to be leaders and it gets better every day.”

ADVERSITY

Alligood reported that when he first met with his staff of coaches, he had a list of questions he asked each one. One of those questions was, “what is the one big negative thing about the W-W sports program.” Every one of them said “Adversity,” he said. “So I knew it had to be a problem. We said we need to put them in adverse situations, and that’s what we did all summer long.”

For example, when a couple of guys were late moving from weight workouts to the practice field, disrupting the practice schedule one day last week, the adversity the whole team faced was running a mile in full pads and cleats.

“How can you practice when you’re so mad after something like that?” Alligood asked, but indicated that, to their credit, they responded positively and, “we had a good practice after that.

“In football, to overcome adversity, you take one play at a time. You worry about just that one play,” the coach explained. “You can’t worry about a good one or a bad one – just play the next play. We’ve really been trying to work on that.

“I hope next Friday night at Hart County we have some adversity. That’s why I scheduled them. They are AAA with double our roster and they are going to be coached really good by Rance [Gillespie]. We are going to find out really quick where we stand,” he said.

HART COUNTY

Just like W-W, Hart County is starting 2017 with a new coach and a new system. Alligood knows the new Bulldog head coach, Rance Gillespie, from when he was at Peach County and Georgia Southern. “He knows what he’s doing,” Alligood said. “They are going to be disciplined and well-coached.”

With both teams in the same boat with new systems and programs, there will probably be a lot of concentration on just lining up on both sides of the ball and just executing.

Hart County is expected to be about 50-50 on running and passing but Alligood is not so sure about the Tigers. “It depends on what the defense gives us,” he said. “I’m not one of those hard-headed guys – it just depends on what they give us that particular night.”

However, he did emphasize the importance of running the football and playing good defense. And since defenses are typically ahead of offenses early in the season, Alligood is going to keep a keen eye on his defense. “More than anything, that’s what I want to see Friday night – the defense running around and making plays. If we do that, good things will happen.”

New systems, plays, and people won’t be the only things evident on the field Friday night. Alligood is planning not only a two-platoon approach on offense and defense but what he calls “35 starters” against Hart’s Bulldogs. Maybe even 38.

“We’re not playing anybody both ways, and special teams are going to be made up of guys who are not starters on either offense or defense,” he said. “That’s going to allow us literally to play 35-38 players right off the bat. That’s going to be huge in Class A football if we can do that. If we can get that many on the field right off the bat, out of 58 players, I will feel good about that.”

Alligood is quick to point out that he is not one to laud individual players but when pressed, he said on defense, Zykier Hogan and Devonte Owens “have really bought in to what we are doing and are really trying to be good players and learn new techniques.”

On offense, sophomore quarterback Donovan Anthony has really come a long way,” according to Alligood. “He understands what we’re doing and he has had a really good week of practice.”

Seniors on the offensive front line, Bailey Brock, J.T. Mack, Wes Tanner, and Jordy Wilkinson, along with junior Dez Anderson, have adopted a totally different philosophy of blocking up front and have “come on strong.”

The coach said he also expects Dmytri Wiggs and Brock Jackson to have a really good year. He also noted that Malik Hall is back, calling him “special.”

“We’ll go through the gametype situation and we’ll have some struggles and we’ll have some good points,” Alligood said looking ahead to Friday night. “We’ll be able to coach off of that when it’s over with, and move on to the next one.”

THE SCHEDULE

Unfortunately, the W-W Tigers will play only four home games during the regular season in 2017.

That’s the result of an inherited schedule problem not without its complications of the confusing Class A rankings and playoff system. The schedules are set every two years so everything will be reworked before the 2018 season.

Alligood indicated that the region part of the schedule will probably remain the same except for flipping the home/away sites. The season’s first three games will likely be new opponents.

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