Just another week of football. In some sense, that might have been the case Wednesday afternoon at Fayetteville High School, but then again maybe not.
The atmosphere around football is regimented. Coaches at every level of the sport strive to create a structure of success upon which they and their players can depend. But that structure, that regimentation is not built to engender complacency.
It’s just the opposite. Every week, every challenge, every new opponent is different, and each game week brings its own special brand of discord. Coaches build order so they and their players can cling to its structure in the midst of the organized chaos that is a football.
This week Fayetteville head coach Daryl Patton’s not only dealing with the challenge that the Jefferson City (Mo.) Jays (2-0) present but also working out the kinks of the coaching staff’s in-game communication network.
In the 1-0 Bulldogs’ 35-21 victory over Warren Sept. 2 in the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic at Reynolds Razorback, the Fayetteville coaching staff had some issues with their wireless headphones, complicating communications from the press box to the sidelines. With just two days until kickoff all the kinks have yet to be fully worked out.
Patton’s not happy with the situation, but it’s not slowing him down.
The headphones are just one of many issues that routinely come across a head coach’s desk that have nothing to do with football proper but must be solved to promote the success desired on the field. Success is the expectation for the Bulldogs, who have won three state titles and earned a runner-up finish since 2007.
Patton’s desk and office are neat, orderly and sunlit with a large window offering a view of Harmon Field, where his efforts are on public display on fall Friday nights. Playbooks and coaching manuals are categorized and in place on a bookshelf behind his desk and trophies denoting his decade of success as the Bulldogs’ mentor line another shelf running perpendicular with that same desk.
The office isn’t Spartan. A column of family photos decorates a small area of his wall space, but it is functional, obviously organized for efficiency. There is nothing to keep himself from his goals.
Stepping out of his office into the Fayetteville weight room, Patton encourages his Bulldogs to make the most out of the one-hour maintenance workout before the squad sets out for practice an expected two-hour workout in the 90-degree heat.
Patton coaches his players to make the most of each repetition in the weight room or practice. Same for the ballgame, maximize each play then move on to the next. However, as head coach, he looks out for his team’s long-term progress.
His Bulldogs won the last two state championships, but lost much of their talent to graduation, returning little experience across the board. While very few outsiders expect Fayetteville to garner their third title in as many years, Patton said the team’s goals remain consistent.
“Outside the program expectations are one thing,” Patton said. “Inside they are different. We expect the same things and that’s for our kids to play their butts off each week, to improve week to week and for our senior to provide great leadership. I think if we do that, we can be a very dangerous team in the playoffs.”
2013 FHS Football Schedule
Sept. 2 – Fayetteville 35, Warren 21
Sept. 13 – Jefferson City (Mo.), 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 – at Muskogee (Okla.), 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 – at Van Buren, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 – Springdale, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 – at Rogers Heritage, 7:30. p.m.
Oct. 18 – Rogers, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 – at Siloam Springs, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1 – at Har-Ber, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8 – at Bentonville, 7:30 p.m.