TODAY'S GUEST: FIRELANDS COACH ROCKY FARLOW
Rocky Farlow enjoys the process of building football programs. He was successful at it at Perkins, where he constructed a state champion, and at New London. Farlow has a 57-34 career record. But he faces his biggest challenge yet at Firelands, which, coupled with Week 1’s 19-3 defeat at the hands of Brookside, is in the midst of a 21-game losing streak. Firelands hasn’t won a game since Oct. 29, 2004. Farlow and the Falcons will look to snap that skid tonight when they take on Smithville.
FIRST DOWN: When building a program from the ground up — especially a situation like you have at Firelands — what is the first element you try to put into place that first year?
FARLOW: The thing that I wanted to establish immediately was toughness in terms of strapping her up and competing. You need to get kids prepared to do that and it’s as much a mental thing as it is physical. I’ve seen great strides with that and I’m proud of how they competed last Friday. I don’t think it’s set in yet, but it’s something that’s coming very fast.
SECOND DOWN: For all the struggles Firelands has had with its football program, it’s been consistently competitive in other sports, such as boys basketball. How have you tried to increase participation numbers?
FARLOW: The quickest way to get more kids out there is by creating a sense of excitement for the program. When you play hard and play fast, and bring up the hitting level, that’s fun. That’s how you get kids out. Winning, of course, helps. But before winning, if you put a product out there that’s fun to be a part of, it’s going to get kids’ attention.
THIRD DOWN: How does the situation you’re facing at Firelands differ from what you faced at New London and Perkins?
FARLOW: The only thing that was really, really different was there wasn’t quite as much of a numbers issue as there is here. The numbers weren’t that low. But both situations were relatively similar other than that. We were 3-7 at New London the first year and 7-3 the year after, so it happened pretty quick. At Perkins, we were 6-4 the first year, 8-3 the next and then the year after we won the title. I think it’s a question of getting the ball turned and rolling it in the right direction.
FOURTH DOWN: For the last two seasons, you took a break from coaching before taking the Falcons job. Why did you need the rest and what brought you back?
FARLOW: Well, my daughter was born on the last game of my last year at Perkins. And that first year away from it, I had no desire to coach. I was happy being out. But during that second year, I began to miss it. I missed the daily contact with the kids. Even more than the classroom, with the kids that you coach, there’s a bigger attachment. I was tired of moping around on Fridays.