Shamrocks play catch-up

New coach, hired in late summer, trying to get team prepared

08/12/2012 12:00 AM

08/15/2012 9:39 PM

Tyrone Davis has dreamed of being a head football coach since before his playing days at Lower Richland. This season, Davis brings decades of hoping and planning to the sideline at Eau Claire.

“I’m really grateful for this opportunity, and I’m going to do everything I can to put this team in a position to be successful,” said Davis, an S.C. State alumnus.

That task starts with establishing a firm foundation, Davis said, in good character.

“I’m not just trying to prepare kids for football, but for life as well,” he said. “At first, there was a little bit of hesitancy because their tendency was to only think of what goes on on the field and not thinking of themselves becoming self-sustaining citizens.”

Davis’ late summer addition to the program also meant many of the Shamrocks’ players were not well-prepared for on-the-field action. The Shamrocks, winless in 2011, did not have spring practice or regular summer workouts, and only a handful of players showed up for Davis’ first sessions in the weight room.

Now, the Shamrocks have 34 players on the roster who are beginning to embrace Davis’ philosophy.

“I feel good about the group of seniors we have, as well as the young guys. It’s still going to be a day-by-day work in progress,” Davis said.

Particularly impressive has been eighth-grader Keith McNeil, who will play wide receiver and handle kicking duties.

“He’s a young kid that has really grown up over a month. He bought into the importance of lifting weights and has developed well,” Davis said.

The Shamrocks staff has been encouraging leadership by example, and quarterback Marquis Taylor and linebacker Michael Diggs are two of the key players who have stepped up on that front.

In their first jamboree, the Shamrocks fell to Dreher, but Davis said, “I was really impressed with our kids. I want these guys to never quit. Always face adversity when it sets in and respond to it the best they can. That’s our endpoint is to be able to say we have given our best.”

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