Team-First Mentality: Players are buying into Stubbs' system at Golden Valley

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comSeptember 2, 2013 

You won't see any Golden Valley players wearing black socks or brightly colored cleats.

Cougars head coach Dennis Stubbs doesn't want individuals trying to bring attention to themselves. You won't even find names on the back of the players' jerseys. It was a tradition he started in his first tenure at Golden Valley. It was the same during his stops at Le Grand and Los Banos as well.

"Really it was coach Sam Parker (now an assistant coach at Buhach Colony) who was the one who came out and told everyone the name on the front is more important than the one on the back," Stubbs said. "That's where we need to focus. We just continued it and I continued that in Los Banos.

"Football is the ultimate team sport. We're trying to get total buy in from everybody. When we try to do things like focus on what kind of shoes to wear or what color socks, we want them worried about what it takes to be successful."

The goal for Stubbs and any coach is to get his players to play for each other.

"That's what it's all about every year," he said. "It doesn't matter how many star players you have, you're not going to reach your potential as a team until that happens.

"I tell my teams that high school football is not that hard. The teams that come together and play for each other will have success. You have 10 weeks to figure it out. I've had teams figure it out in the spring. I've had teams figure it out in the summer. I've had teams figure it out in week 10."

Senior lineman T.J. Moore has seen a difference in the team in Stubbs' second season. For one, the players are familiar with the offensive and defensive systems.

More important, Moore sees players buying into the program.

"I feel like we're a more disciplined team all around," Moore said. "All the guys are showing up for workouts. I see people more dedicated to the team because (Stubbs) is dedicated to us."

It's a team starved for wins.

That's why you see more players not only showing up to voluntary workouts, but also coming out in groups to work out on their own without coaches during the dead period.

"Having won five games in three years makes you want to win," said senior lineman Andres Estrada. "We want to change our program around. We have the talent to do that, from our quarterback to our receivers. It's just dedication and the willingness to put everything on the field."

The strength of the Cougars will be their offensive and defensive lines, featuring players like Estrada, Moore, Daniel Perez, Philip Pavey, Cameron Cupit, Tristan Cupit and Afolabi Olabode.

The running back position is up for grabs after the transfer of Devron Davis to Merced. Isaiah Peterson, Desmone Borden and Gary Ayers are all in competition for running back. Receiver Jashaan Wright could also see time in the backfield. The biggest question mark surrounding the Cougars is their depth.

"We're way ahead of where we were last year in camp," Stubbs said. "I think we have the players to compete, we just don't have a lot of depth. We don't want to rob the JV team. There's probably three kids right now that could help us.

"We like what we have at every position. We just have to restructure how we run practices. With a 40-man roster, our guys had to learn two positions. The good thing is we knew this early on."

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