by Taylor Williams
|West Jefferson Head Coach Marcus Scott|
April 9, 2010 – Regardless of its class, division, or status, every athletic team must play smart to win games. Intelligent play underlies the success of any good team, but in football intelligent play alone is insufficient and must be accompanied by toughness, the element that defines the game and its players. However, as fans, coaches, and players all know, it’s often difficult to distinguish smart, tough football from barbaric, dirty football. The latter form of play results in penalties, turnovers, and missed opportunities- the things that drive coaches insane. But playing smartly, as defined by minimal penalties, attention to detail, and flawless execution, doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing the chance to be a hardnosed team- it’s just a critical aspect of winning games. Just ask Marcus Scott, head coach of the West Jefferson Buccaneers. A veteran of both the public and private high school circuits as both a player (Edna Karr and Jesuit) and as a coach (Jesuit and West Jefferson), Scott is entering his third year as the Bucs’ head coach with the goal of playing smart, tough football heavily in mind. A defensively oriented coach by virtue of his playing and coaching days in backfield defense, Scott knows firsthand both the positive and negative effects that playing smartly can render on defenses. Sloppy offensive execution, turnovers, and penalties are the defense’s best friends, and their absence is its’ worst nightmare.
Having played well enough to remain undefeated in district play during Scott’s tenure, the Bucs’ immediate objective involves “closing the gap in terms of playoff and significant games.” Essentially, West Jefferson has proven it’s every bit as good as the local competition, but has had difficulty matching up in the postseason against opponents like Dutchtown and Mandeville, who represent some of the major size and talent outside of the metro New Orleans area. Competing against big time schools throughout Louisiana leaves a practically nonexistent margin for error, which makes the need for intelligent yet aggressive play of utmost importance. West Jefferson will lose some key players at skill positions this year, including All State wide receiver Glen Coleman and running back Dwayne Lee, but retains the majority of its offensive line and its starting quarterback. Specifically, center Edwin Cortes and quarterback Shawn Hoye, described by the coach as “the heart and soul of the team,” represent the true leadership and experience on offense. Their ability to exemplify smart play and win big games early on will prove vital down the stretch, as the Bucs are known for their slow starts and strong finishes. And while the line and quarterback positions embody the majority of experience on offense, the backfield positions supply them with a solid dose of youth and raw athleticism. Coach Scott has already built an offense characterized by speed and quickness at running the ball, a perception which will likely be heightened by next season’s emergence of underclassmen Ronald Lewis and Devon Scott. Lewis, a versatile athlete capable of playing multiple positions, and Scott, an All State track champion in sprinting events, should give the Bucs’ offense a little extra firepower. The defense is not quite as well rounded, retaining only three longtime starters in the secondary duo of Chris Williams and Kenny Proctor, and linebacker Telvins Black. These guys have had the direct benefit of Coach Scott’s backfield coaching expertise throughout their high school careers, which has molded them into aggressive pass robbers and rushers. West Jefferson clearly has a playoff caliber team on paper, but in football that is rarely enough. To reinforce the importance of fusing talent and intelligence on the field, Coach Scott often recreates high pressure game situations in practice- the kind of scenarios where a penalty, turnover, or imperfect execution will make or break a game. The reenacting of game time moments and intensity helps keep all the players grounded and ensures they play the kind of intelligent football that has helped the Bucs’ win consistently thus far. Approaching a new season with this strategy in mind, West Jefferson aims to lead by example in practice and continue to display the kind of smart, tough football that coaches yearn for and that wins championships.