Fighting Tigers using teamwork to achieve success

Published 2:37 am Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There’s something you should know about the Ironton Fighting Tigers’ football team: They don’t care.

Please don’t misunderstand what this means. They do care about playing football. In fact, they love the game. They love being together on the field, in the locker room and climbing on their own greyhound bus with their team named painted on the outside announcing their arrival.

They really love the fact they are in the Division IV Region 15 championship game and they love the idea they still have a shot at playing for that gold football trophy sitting on a shelf somewhere in Massillon’s Tiger Stadium.

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But the one thing they don’t care about is what’s causing all this love.

This group of players truly doesn’t care who gets the glory or the headlines. They actually love the fact teams can’t key on one or two guys. They love the fact anyone on the defense can make a play at any time. The offensive line loves the fact they live in obscurity as everyone cheers the backs and ends as they make big and small plays.

Well, not total obscurity. Their teammates, coaches and fans know what they are doing to contribute to the success of the team.

Yes, team.

Everyone has heard the cliches about there’s no “I” in team or it’s a team game or you win as a team and lose as a team.

But there is a reason someone came up with those cliches. If teams really believe in those things, they will find success when times are tough. There is a bond that forms. It’s us against them.

It’s been that way this season for the Fighting Tigers. They have three running backs with about the same amount of yardage and touchdowns. One player has 100 yards one game and another has a big game the next. And the backs think that is really cool.

A big key to the running backs’ success is their mentality. They run hard and they block for each other. No one pouts if they aren’t getting the ball. They know they’ll get a carry and the other backs will block for them. If they don’t, they’ll find themselves standing on the sidelines.

Ya see, there’s this guy over there who has been around a few years that doesn’t like players trying to be individuals instead of team players. He doesn’t allow someone to dress in orange shoes while everyone else has black or wear a head band or do some funky touchdown dance.

This guy thinks the team scores, not one player. Imagine that.

Getting players to buy into a team concept is something this guy has been demanding for 41 years, 38 of them at Ironton. It must work. He’s won 374 games, more than anyone in Ohio high school football history.

We all know his name, but I haven’t mentioned it because I haven’t mentioned anyone else’s name on the team.

They are a bunch of individuals, but they are working together for one goal. You can tell them apart on the field by their numbers and you can find their name in the program.

But as far as they are concerned, they are the Ironton Fighting Tigers.

So when you hear that they don’t care, it’s true. They don’t care who gets the credit or the attention just as long as they get the win.

And so far, that lack of caring has made all the difference in their success.

—— Sinatra ——

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.