As the guy who predicted that Broughton High would not win a single football game this year, I checked in with Caps coach Billy Lane early Monday to see how it felt to ruin a perfectly good prediction in the first game of the season.
“I’ve got to be honest. It feels pretty good,” Lane said on a day when his players walked into the first day of classes with their heads held high.
“The dynamic between a Saturday morning when you win on Friday night and when you lose on Friday are so different. I have been coaching for 15 years and the contrast between those two extremes still amazes me.”
Broughton defeated Cary 41-14 on Friday, but the Caps were far from error-free. They had 20 penalties.
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“It was sloppy,” Lane said, before adding, “But it was a win.”
Lane preached throughout last year that the program was going to follow a process. The goal was to get better each day: to become better athletes, better conditioned, better skilled, mentally tougher and closer as a group.
In the preseason this year, he talked about the same things.
He hopes this season-opening win will do what he had hoped an early win would have done last year.
“If you can win an early game, everything can snowball,” he said. “You get so much more buy-in from the kids. Your confidence goes up. You practice better. You feel good about yourself.”
The Caps dropped the opener 30-24 to Cary in 2013, lost a heart-breaking 22-21 decision to Athens Drive, were overwhelmed by Garner 58-10 and then absorbed a crushing 35-28 loss to Cardinal Gibbons.
Broughton was within 17 points of being 3-1 after four games, but was 0-4 with a new coach.
On the first day of school last year, the players were asked about the season, about what went wrong in the opener.
But Monday, the players had a little spring in their steps. Smiles came more easily.
“We talked to the kids a lot on Saturday about what it means to be a flag bearer for our school,” Lane said. “We talked about how proud they should be to wear the purple and gold.”
But this year Lane saw smiling faces as he reviewed his expectations for his players’ conduct. The players were excited about hitting the halls, not dreading it.
One win doesn’t make a season, but when people all around you – including the newspaper prediction – are doubting you, a win tastes mighty sweet.
And Lane saw some things amid Friday night’s miscues that impressed him.
Wide receiver Kam Rogers had been sick much of the week and wasn’t expected to play. He drank enough liquids toward the end of the week to meet hydration standards and played courageously and well.
Lane said inside linebacker Austin Bell did not make a bad read the entire game.
The combination of great desire and great preparation brought a smile to Lane.
His grin matched those on his players.