Traditions carry over in high school football

dshirley@macon.comSeptember 12, 2013 

It’s hard, Barney Hester at Howard notwithstanding, to turn around a high school football program in a quick manner.

There is a reason it seems the same programs win game after game, year after year. Tradition, while it might seem cliché, is a huge part of high school football programs and their successes ... and failures. Some teams seem to be destined to have success because it always has been that way, but that success is built on plenty of hard work by the coaches and players throughout the history of those programs. Other teams seem to be destined to struggle no matter who the coaches and players are.

That’s what will make Hester’s tenure at Howard so intriguing. Hester’s first Huskies team has stopped the program’s 24-game losing streak and has a chance to have its first-ever three-game winning streak against Walnut Grove on Friday. That would be remarkable. But it would just be the first step toward Hester’s goal of building a solid, consistent program at Howard. That might seem like a long shot, given Howard’s short history of struggles, but if there’s a coach to bet on getting that done, it would have to be Hester.

He did the same at Tattnall Square, building a consistently strong program, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do the same at Howard.

He’s battling a tradition of struggles with Howard, but at least it’s not a long, winding history like some coaches and programs have to face. That can be difficult to attack and almost impossible to overcome, and those struggles seem to build on top of themselves.

A team struggles to win. Fans and the community display a disinterest in the program. Then the coach can’t get top athletes out to join the team because they don’t want to be part of all the losses. That leads to more losses, and the cycle continues.

On the flip side, you see programs like Northside, Warner Robins, Peach County and Mary Persons, among others. They have years of success, and maybe most importantly community support, and that builds pride in the program. The students and athletes in the school want to be part of continuing that success, and that carries over year after year.

Traditions, good and bad, are huge components of high school programs and what they can and can’t get accomplished on the field. Those things are hard to change, and that is seen every Friday night throughout the state.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or

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