Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local Sports

October 7, 2010

Coaching keying Central’s success

THOMASVILLE — Not much has changed in the last three years with Thomas County Central football.

Even when legendary coach Ed Pilcher bolted Thomasville for Bainbridge, success still follows the Yellow Jackets program.

Unity within the coaching staff is a big reason why.

“A head coach is only as good as the assistants he has,” said coach Bill Shaver, Pilcher’s successor.

When the transition was made following the 2007 season, only one assistant coach (Leonard Guyton) followed Pilcher to the Bearcats. The bulk of Central’s coaching staff stayed at Central, which is a big reason the Yellow Jackets are 23-6 in three years under Shaver.

“I think it’s key that everybody pretty much stayed in place,” said offensive line coach Bill Wilhelm, who recalled a recent conversation he had with his offensive linemen. “We were talking about Lee County. They said, ‘Well, what if you had gotten that job at Thomasville?’ Some of them said, ‘Well, I wasn’t going to play if so-and-so were still here or if so-and-so had ended up being the line coach. I think it makes a lot of difference with keeping the kids bought into the program and everybody on the same page.”

Also a benefit for Shaver is the amount of coaching experience he has at his disposal with his assistants. Three of his assistants, Sam Holland, Sam Pickett and Mike Singletary, have served as head coaches once before.

“It just makes a huge difference. You’re not going to surprise them with anything. They’re always willing to try to help out. They’ll give me advice if they think I’m doing something wrong, and I’m always asking for it,” Shaver said.

“It’s definitely a blessing and I think we all blend together well. A lot of times when you have that much experience, you would think some strong heads would not get along as well. We have some times where we have some indecisions on what we want to do, but we always leave out of here as a staff thinking that’s the right way, that’s what’s best for this team. I’m just blessed to have all those guys with me.”

The only position Shaver had to replace in 2008 was his offensive coordinator. Shaver chose Holland, a former head coach in Alabama and Florida.

“For me, it’s awesome every day,” Holland said. “I step back some days and I look around and watch practice and the coaching that’s going on every day in practice is amazing. What goes on, on our practice field on a daily basis with this staff, it’s incredible. It’s really fun to be around.”

The two other former head coaches reside on Central’s defense. Pickett, who assists in the secondary, was a successful coach at Rome from 1996-2000 and compiled a 39-17 record. Singletary compiled a 32-22 record at Colquitt County in six seasons. Central defensive coordinator Cliff Heard discussed the working relationship he has with his fellow assistants.

“It’s really a unique situation. We all have our own ideas,” Heard said. “The good thing is, we’re all in it, looking for the same result and that’s a win on Friday night. We argue some and go back and forth and we disagree, but when it’s all said and done and we leave on Sunday night, we’ve got a plan. We’re going to all together and make sure we’ve got it right for the kids.”

One possible drawback to having as many coaches with head-coaching experience on one staff is egos getting in the way. That’s not a problem with the Jackets, however.

“One thing about it, this staff gets along extremely well,” Holland said. “The working relationship, the respect we have for each other supersedes (the egos). There really hasn’t been any problems with that.”

Heard added, “To be honest with you, every now and then some toes get stepped on. It’s inherent of the beast. Sam has his ideas. I’ve got my ideas. Mike has his ideas. We all have different ideas on how to do the best job we can. But when it’s all said and done, we come together to figure out what’s the best thing for our positions and make sure we’ve got all our kids in the right places to win.”

Central has won with regularity under Shaver. The Yellow Jackets won Region 1-AAAA last season and are off to a 4-1 start, heading into tonight’s region showdown at Houston County. Having a staff that works well together is a big reason for the Yellow Jackets’ success.

“You know as well as I do, when there’s a cohesive staff, when your coaches get along, that goes down to your players,” Holland said. “They’re going to feed off of us. If this staff works as one, well so does the team. Team wins in football.”

Shaver added, “I’m blessed to have the group that I have.”

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