The Turnaround: That’s a wrap on 2017

The Turnaround

It seems like yesterday when I was sitting on a bench in Laguna Beach writing about
our upcoming season on my last getaway before the chaos of football season commenced. Time seems to fly by as you get older. The seasons seemingly morph into one. It becomes a blur. Football goes by faster and faster each season.

The Westerners kicked off 2017 with an upset win over Seminole. It was a classic
overtime thriller, capped by an amazing 25 yard touchdown run by sophomore Isaiah Johnson. The fans rushed the field and 2017 was off to an emphatic start.

By Week 4 we found ourselves scrapping our offense and reinventing ourselves to fit the talents of Johnson. We employed two and sometimes even three fullback sets to maximize our blocking capabilities to spring Johnson. It was a lot of fun working with the staff and creating our very unique approach to offense.

From Week 5, aside from the Abilene Cooper game, we played competitive football and had a shot in every game down the stretch. QB Kwami Wilborn improved each week; WR Kristian Coleman become a deep threat and hauled in ten touchdown passes. Johnson, behind fullbacks Eric Puente and Andrew Dotray, cranked out nearly 1,300 yards rushing and ten touchdowns. It was an impressive Sophomore season for #27. He is a bonafide FBS recruit and is only going to get better… and stronger. Scary thoughts for opponents right there.

We ended with two wins, but as I said before, we played competitive ball and we felt like we didn’t want the season to end. That is always a good feeling.

The Westerners find a way to compete, we always do. We do this despite the fact that every single team in our district plays one way. We have to go both ways and it
takes its toll on us. But, we will never back down and we will never waver. We
embrace our systematic challenges and work our asses off for our kids. We give it
everything we have each and every week!

We return a bunch next season and we feel good about it. Christian Longoria, a
Sophomore, started every game at Center and DT for us. He never missed a snap. Josh Gonzalez, Daniel Martinez and Zach Taylor all return up front, too. Guys who helped a running back get to 1,300 yards. Savion Cortez comes back, so does Noah Guttierez, Zecory Jackson and a slew of others. We will be in good shape. LHS has a shot to get over the hump that has plagued us since 1975.

We have a tremendous off season program run by Tyler Lloyd and Nathan Slaughter. They are key coaches on my staff and in-charge of getting us stronger and faster. They are damn good at what they do! I have a great staff. They get overlooked, but the people who know football know our challenges and they know how good my staff is.

I am proud of those guys and how they work. We will show people somehow, someway, just how good we are at what we do. Just keep paying attention.

This fact remains: there are coaches winning state titles who couldn’t or wouldn’t
even want to, handle and take on the job at LHS. I have a special group of coaches
who love these kids. Come see us. Come watch us work. Take my invitation. Come see how we balance the things we need to do just to be able to compete. Seriously, come on out and see us.

This may have been the best coaching job I have ever done and it netted two wins.
Think about that for a little bit. I have been part of lot of winning. But what we
did this year might be the best job we have ever done.

2017 was full of fun for us. We will continue to grow and fight. We will always
battle, scrap, claw and fight to the death. One day the wins will come here. I will
die trying!

Things That Need To Go Away In 2018

Here goes, with the list of things that just need to vanish from our language or
behavior trends that need to go bye-bye.

1. Turnover Chains – give me a break. Do I even need to say why this needs to go?

2. Twitter tough guys – Look, you type things. Good for you. Until you coach a down, keep your yap closed.

3. The word “grinding”- Please. Good grief. Just stop saying you are grinding. You are not grinding. You are doing what you love.

4. Recruiting tweets – Just end all of them. From being blessed, to respect my
decision to the school reveal videos. Study the word humility. Focus on that.
Please.

5. Parents who complain about playing time – Come in. Work 12 hours a day. Break
film down. Game plan. Feed the kids. Do all that. Then watch film. Remember, the
film doesn’t lie. It’s all there for all of us to see. Find some reality in 2018.

6. The word “process” – Yes. Yes. Yes. I know. We all love the process. We
embrace the process. We invented the process. Yes. Yes. Yes. But please find a new word for 2018. Process has set sail.

7. We check social media tweets – Ok. Got it. You check the social media accounts
of all recruits. Awesome. However, I still see a lot of college ball players
getting arrested while playing college football. Maybe, just maybe, instead of
tweeting that you yanked a scholarship from a kid for a social media post, you can
reach out to him and educate him on how to use social media. Or maybe you use this method of scholarship yanking to account for all the over-offering you do? Seems to me there is an answer somewhere in there. Stop tweeting. Do more talking to high school kids who are still growing up!! Seriously, FIO!

8. The Heisman Trophy – Indeed. Do away with the award. Or change the writing in
the qualities that the Heisman winner displays. Seriously flawed. It’s laughable.

9. The playoff committee – Please come up with an 8 team or 12 team playoff.
Resumes? We talk about resumes when selecting 4 teams? The other divisions do it. Wonder why the big boys can’t? Get rid of the committee.

10. ESPN – Oh yes, an emphatic YES! Get rid of this network. Adios!

I have more grievances to air with you people, but I am running out of room here. I
will get to it all later.

Randomness

-Blog is coming about the best high school football state in America. Have had
enough of the debate. Had enough of the hate and insults on Twitter. Time to put a
blog out on it.

-Highland Park/Manvel was the best high school football game I have ever seen. It
was incredible! More about that in the blog I mention above.

-I’m taking Alabama to win it all in the college football playoff.

-Did I mention that I have an incredible coaching staff? If not, I really do. Come
Check us out.

-Jennifer Roland is the best! Enjoyed our latest visit to San Antonio to hang out
with our other family. We had a blast at the Alamo Bowl and eating a 25,000 calorie
cinnamon roll.

-Matt Stepp and Greg Tepper are awesome assets to Texas High School Football. They really are. Tremendous people who make our state as great as it is in the glitz and glamor of high school football. These guys knock it out of the park!

That’s it.

Until next time…FIO.

The Turnaround Jason Strunk

Eric Karr Photography

 

Jason Strunk
Lubbock Head Football Coach
Follow @WestTXCoach

About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.