Kennedy Coach Brady Straub utters the key to his football team's success.
"Organization," he says, sitting in front of a typewriter that holds a detailed schedule for the day's practice. Every minute there is something to work on. Never is a valuable second squandered.
"Everybody knows where to go, what to do and when to do it," adds Straub, whose crew cut would lead one to believe that his structured life comes from military experience. It doesn't. "I attribute my organization to my mother," he says.
In his first season at Kennedy, Straub's winning philosophy has trickled down. The Cavaliers have raced to a 9-0 record and the No. 11ranking in the Metropolitan area. Straub has changed the offensive set from former Coach Wes Abrams' successful Delaware wing-T, which Kennedy used to fashion a 7-3 record last year, to his multiple wishbone. And the players have responded.
"This year we are much more disciplined than in the past," says quarterback Walt Crutchfield. "But they (Abrams and Straub) preach mostly the same thing: be flawless in the fundamentals and everything will come."
"The kids have adapted well," Straub says. "They have listened, learned and are successful to boot."
"It takes time, though. We can't do everything in one year."
But there is every indication that the Montgomery A league Cavaliers could reach the top in Straub's first season. "I was worried about everything at the beginning of the season," he says. "You just don't know how kids are going to play in the first game.
"Defensively we're getting better and offensively we're getting more flexible."
The Cavaliers began with a surprising victory over AA opponent Wootton. In the next five games they had to struggle for each win, except a 34-14 victory over Woodward. Then came the real test, Seneca Valley, and Kennedy proved its ranking with a 7-0 defeat of a Screaming Eagles team that had beaten second-ranked Churchill the previous week. Fullback Greg Williams, who scored the winning touchdown in the Cavaliers' 20-13 win over Straub's former team, Northwood, beat Seneca on a 32-yard run.
"I would rather be lucky than good," Straub says. "And to be unbeaten, you have to be lucky."
"We take them one at a time. You start looking at that (record) and that is when you get knocked off."
Straub thought lack of depth was going to be the team's downfall. Instead, he has shuffled in players at most positions on offense, because of "injury or design," and the reserves have produced: the Cavaliers outrushed their opponents, 2,175 yards to 836. "We have 42 members and they all contribute," he says, reluctant to praise individuals.
A perfect example is in the backfield, where tailback Ricky Pickett leads a balanced attack with 793 yards rushing and an 7.9 average per carry. He has seven touchdowns.
Furthermore, when Greg Williams went down with an ankle injury in practice preceding the Sherwood game on Oct. 27, Ron Williams stepped in and scored a touchdown in Kennedy's 14-13 victory.
At quarterback, Straub has relied on three-year starter Crutchfield. Notwithstanding the fact that Crutchfield has passed for only 387 yards in a run-oriented offense, "he can throw and run," Straub says.
"We have thrown more this year than any year I have coached. And I attribute that to the talent of Walt."
Crutchfield feels the wishbone is better suited for his strengths. "I think the wishbone imposes more of a threat," he says. "I like to throw on the run. My job is the catalyst and to get the ball to somebody."
At the beginning of the season, Straub considered the linebacker position the weakest part of the Cavaliers' multiple 50 defense. But with sophomore Mark Smyth and junior Ron Williams "developing," the defensive halfbacks and line, the "strong point," have had some of the pressure relieved.
Straub, who played on 0-10 football teams at Northwood High School in 1963 and '64, reached the state semifinals twice while coaching the Indians during 1972-83.
Confronted with the possibility Northwood would close this spring, Straub began looking for a job elsewhere, and the Kennedy position opened.
"I knew I had to make a decision for my life," he says. "I knew for my sanity I needed a change. I knew at the end of last season I wasn't going to coach there.
"I know it was controversial (to leave before the school closed) and I'm sorry it had to be that way. But you can imagine the emotional roller coaster the teachers were going through. They had heard the school was going to close from the mid-'70s."
But Straub seems to have found a permanent home at Kennedy with a start that most first-year coaches dream of. "They had a good foundation when we got here," he says. "They know what it takes to be a winner."