Tony caught up with West Hardin’s George Taylor after the Oilers’ practice on Wednesday, August 7, 2019.
Tony: First year here at West Hardin. Let’s start with an easy one, why West Hardin? What attracted you to this community?
Coach Taylor: It’s a small community. It’s tight knit. Actually, we serve five or six small communities around here that all come together as one. When I came over and interviewed, I met a couple of the kids and right off the bat, the way they showed respect to me and were eager to learn football and want to play football. The more I watched them on film I thought this is a gold mine out here in the piney woods. We can get some things done out here and do some good things.
Tony: Speaking of watching the kids on film, you were at Goose Creek last year and you’ve coached around the area… how much did you know about the kids here, about the program here before you interviewed.
Coach Taylor: I knew quite a bit. The former head coach is a good friend of mine. I’ve known him a long time. Being the regional director for power lifting I’ve seen West Hardin every year out at the meets and regional power lifting and state. They always have really strong kids, hard workers. I know the former coach ran a good program and they are in good shape and ready to go for this year.
Tony: First year here – what have you changed with scheme or otherwise?
Coach Taylor: Our scheme offensively, last year I think they were predominantly spread and kind of threw the call around, and as you see we are under center now, running the ball. We are going to be more of a clock control offense. We want to hold the ball as long as we can. As far as changes, I’m just trying to change little things. I’m big on little things make big things happen. My very first impression when I interviewed and walked through was the locker room is a mess, stuff all over the floor. From that point, I told them the locker room is going to be cleaned up. Every thing has a certain hook in their locker. We’ve gone all summer and now three days of football and that locker room has been immaculate clean. I think with little things like that and taking care of the things we have. I know a lot of people kind of look in and think “Oh. It’s West Hardin – little school” or whatever. We actually have really nice facilities here. An air-conditioned weight room with plenty of weights for all the kids. That locker room rivals any locker room I’ve been in and I’ve been at 5A and 6A schools. Like I told the kids, we have really nice stuff here, really nice gear, really nice equipment and we are going to take care of it.
Tony: Beyond getting better every day, because that’s the expectation of every coach in every program, what are your expectations for the season.
Coach Taylor: Like you said we are going to get better every day but the goal is we are going to win the district. When I first met the kids and was first introduced, the first thing I said to them was that we are going to win district next year and that’s the goal. But there’s a lot of ground work that has to be laid in order to do that and that’s what we are doing right now. The kids are learning to work hard. We are practicing for three hours plus lifting weights for 30 minutes every day. They are learning to work hard and grind. That way in the fourth quarter when the other team is sucking wind, we are not.
Tony: Not sure if everyone is out today, but by my nose count 23 kids.
Coach Taylor: 23 kids today. We actually have 26. I have 2 that are out that had to go on family trips and 1 that was sick this morning. Every day we’ve had 2 or 3 filter in. We are getting transfers from Hardin. We’ve had some transfers from other schools around. As they are transferring in, the program is growing. Speaking of growing, our goal right now is to have a JV team. I don’t think we’ve had a JV at West Hardin for a long time. What we have is a senior-heavy team right now. Well next year all these starters that we are seeing on the field are going to graduate and we are going to be left with a lot of kids that don’t have playing experience. We want to have a JV team so that if they are playing on Thursday nights and they are getting field time and they are ready for varsity next year when it’s their turn.
Tony: Even with growing numbers, injuries and conditioning are a concern. What do you do with your strength and conditioning approach to try to address that?
Coach Taylor: Not only getting stronger in our core lifts, the squats, bench press, clean, and incline, but we do a lot of auxiliary lifts which strengthens a lot of the joints you see damaged usually during football games – shoulder joints, knee joints, things like that. I know that you see teams sometimes neglect ham string work during the season, so we make sure to work ham strings. We do a lot of auxiliary stuff just to try to prevent the little joint issues that can hamper us.