Hungry to learn… Large number suiting up at T.A. Dugger for 2019 football season

Published 6:00 am Monday, August 5, 2019



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Most high school coaches would salivate to have the number of players out for football as the T.A. Dugger Jr. Cyclones have dressing out this season in grades six through eight.

New Jr. Cyclone head coach Brock Pittman sees the trend toward the large numbers not only coming from previous success but from the fact young players want to be taught how to play football.

“We have over 30 eighth graders and have 75 players all together right now in numbers which is great,” Pittman said about his massive team. “They are all getting coached, which is what they want.

“We coach everybody and the thing that I like is they are craving it because they love to be coached and they love the game.

“I just had a kid just now come up to me and said what do I need to do to get better because he was having some trouble yesterday in our scrimmage at Church Hill,” continued Pittman.

“He’s going to be a good player because of that—because he wants to get better and he’s going to get better.”

Pittman added that even though some of the team may be young and raw, they don’t come out having any lack of willingness to do what they are instructed to do.

“I just like the fact that we are so aggressive. We have a bunch of young kids that want to play and they are not very good at tackling right now but we are going to get better because they are going to work at it,” Pittman stated.

“I like the fact they come to work every day and they want to be good football players and that’s the most important part.”

With a lack of understanding, football often is like getting that first job and being overwhelmed at what is being asked of one to do.

However, through hours and days of repetition, the job becomes second nature—one that can almost be done in one’s sleep.

“I have always believed that coaching is teaching,” commented Pittman. “It’s the same thing.

“Mentally they are exactly like the high school guys as far as you will teach them something one day and they will come back the next day and you would have thought you hadn’t taught them anything.

“You have to reteach constantly and that’s the same thing at the high school level,” Pittman continued. “It’s the same thing at the college level as well because you just constantly reteach and reteach until it becomes engrained in their brains.

“It’s very similar. The biggest thing for us is the little things. Some of these kids have never played. Some of these kids don’t know how to get suited up.

“So we are in the locker room buckling chin straps and showing them how to insert their knee pads into their pants and showing them how to keep up with their stuff. That’s the biggest difference is all the stuff off the field but on the field, it’s much the same.”

Pittman sees his job and the responsibility of his coaching staff to be that of making sure that when the players that are under his tutelage moves on to the high school level they fully knowledgeable of what is expected of Cyclone football.

“We are doing everything technique-wise that Shawn (Witten) does at the high school,” said Pittman. “We are teaching the same stuff so by the time they get to the high school, they are going to have heard it before, which is huge.

“We are all one program. We see ourselves as one program. We are not T.A. Dugger football and Elizabethton football—we are all the same program so that’s going to pay benefits in the future because the kids aren’t going to have a whole new football scheme when they get to high school.

“These kids are younger and less physically mature and little bit slower but it’s the same mentally.”

Pittman was asked if the success of the Jr. Cyclone football program in the past is what has brought out the large numbers this year.

“That’s definitely part of it in the fact they want to be a part of a winning team. Really the thing that I believe is the drawing part of the most is they know when they come to T.A. Dugger, they are going to get coached,” stated Pittman.

“They are not going to get pushed off to the side. We are not just going to take the eight best players on the team and focus on them only. They know we are going to take everybody and they love the fact they are all getting coached.

“The skill level doesn’t matter. I think that it’s the biggest drawing point for them.”