New Wiregrass Ranch football coach stresses discipline
WESLEY CHAPEL -
Mike Lawrence is taking things seriously.
Sometimes, the first-year Wiregrass Ranch High football coach may sound like he’s cracking a joke or throwing away a one-liner, but it’s all business at Bulls practice.
“They have to be held accountable,” said Lawrence, who was promoted from offensive coordinator in December after former coach Jeremy Shobe resigned. “We weren’t holding kids accountable because you have to do the right things all the time to be successful. I know you can’t be perfect — it can’t be obtained. But if you chase perfection, excellence will be reached.”
Wiregrass is in the midst of a 22-game losing streak and scored only 61 points in 2012. Some blame it on a tough schedule that included the likes of Tampa Bay Tech, Gaither, Pasco and Countryside, but Lawrence said the team lacked discipline, which is just one of the changes he has implemented.
“We’ve made a lot of changes,” Lawrence said. “To the people outside looking in, they may say Wiregrass is this and that because, you know, we’re not winning. Well, we have to change that perspective, that outlook of what people see and think of us. We’re making changes, and they’re expecting to see something new.
“We’re going to give them that.”
Lawrence has instilled more discipline over practices and workouts, even to the point where those are being compared to a military boot camp.
“Practices are way more organized and it’s way more strict than before,” starting junior quarterback Shane Bucenell said. “We don’t even touch weights and we’re sore, but just seeing coach like this … enthusiastic — he’s a lot different than last year. But we’re optimistic about it, especially with all the new coaches.”
Bucenell is one of many starters returning to a still-relatively young team. Lawrence and company need a go-to running back, but have plenty of options. Plus, Bucenell and the offense are looking to be less mistake prone, such as eliminating dropped passes and turnovers.
“Every successful program has discipline,” Lawrence said. “The Armwoods, the Plants, the Pascos — they push discipline and winning happens because they’re paying attention to what they’re doing and they know their assignment. Of all the things that needed to be addressed, that was the natural way to go.”
Discipline should lead to players not hanging their heads when games get out of hand or should lead to more offensive productivity, especially from a team that has just 105 points in the past two seasons. And that’s why Lawrence hit the ground running since getting the job in December. He knew change was needed, having spending a season that went from optimistic, to despairing, to frivolous in a matter of weeks.
And as Lawrence takes things seriously, so will his players.
“The focus is definitely on winning,” Bucenell said, “because the 0-22 (streak) needs to stop. I’m tired of it. We’re all tired of it. From the first game, we’re going to focus winning and stop the losing. It’s not just me — we’re all tired of it.”
Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.