David Mitchell: Spencer's and Kendrick's first wins a launch pad for future success

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 25, 2012 

On Thursday night, Kendrick put together its best effort of the season to win its first game, 34-0, over Temple. Twenty-four hours later, Spencer hung 46 points on the board en route to its first win, this one coming against Jordan.

And while it's just one win, and the two teams will be back at it with plenty to prove again this week, the importance of those victories shouldn't be underestimated. Both teams are in the process of building programs from the bottom up, Spencer especially as it is working in its first season under head coach Calvin Arnold.

For teams that have experienced such sporadic success over the years, a taste of it can serve a number of purposes.

For one, it lets the kids know what it feels like and what it takes to get the win. Understanding the level of effort it requires to get a win and that it isn't as easy as taking the field and running faster than your opponent are important steps to success.

So is simply tasting the success. It gives teams a reference point to see what they did differently. More importantly, though, it lets them understand how much better it feels than the alternative. Teams that start winning games aren't in a hurry to lose again any time soon. It changes the attitude and the effort, both in practices and in games.

Players and coaches become more optimistic, they loosen up and their stress level decreases dramatically.

The alternative is a feeling of impatience, wondering if and when a win will come. It begins to seem less likely. Things that could go against a team usually do.

Not that one win changes everything, of course. Spencer's Arnold said after the win on Friday that it was big, but equally important to stay focused going forward.

"This is a big victory for our team, but looking forward, we need to stay humble," he said. "It feels good to get the first win out of the way for me and the team, but, having said that, we still have a long way to go."

And that's the right way to approach it. It's important to balance excitement for the win with a lack of satisfaction and a thirst to continue to improve.

Both teams, and others that are still trying to find success, have lofty goals for the season. Players for both Kendrick and Spencer have said they would like to do enough to make the playoffs. Damarkus Robins, who had a big game for Spencer on Friday, noted again on Monday that was still the team's goal. One win doesn't clinch a playoff berth, but it can serve as a boost for the rest of the season.

Are either of those teams going to make the state playoffs? It's tough to say. There are plenty of other talented teams they will be playing against, and it's going to take a lot more work to make that a reality. But at least now, the players understand it's a possibility. They can win football games; they can be successful.

It's a start.

David Mitchell, 706-571-8571. Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.

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