Exactly what are the keys to success for local sports teams depends on who you ask.
Bullis Football Head Coach Pat Cilento has been coaching close to 20 years, including the last seven years leading the Bulldogs after a one-year stint guiding Sherwood.
He said he feels individuals shine only through the efforts of the team.
“(I’m) definitely more concerned with execution as a whole team,” he said. “Everybody on the whole team is important. If everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do, then individual performance will lead to great success.”
Gonzaga Baseball Head Coach Andy Bradley is in his 13th year coaching, having led the Purple Eagles for the last nine years.
He guided Gonzaga to the 2015 DCSAA Championship and said baseball is a sport based around a unit.
“One of the phrases I use is we’re not looking for the nine best, we’re looking for the best nine. What that means: guys that work as one unit. You know the best nine, one unit, rather than just nine individual players out there,” he said.
Cilento has fielded some of the best players in the county if not the country. He included the country’s second-ranked quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who went on to play for Ohio State University; Penn State tight end Jonathan Holland; Wisconsin safety Pat Johnson; and Wake Forest tackle Justin Herron, who he said is a likely first-round draft pick.
Even with his teams stacked with individual talent, Cilento said he preaches team play whenever he can.
“It’s always a team thing. You put your players in a position to succeed. And I think that’s what Penn State did using Cam Brown, 6-foot- 6, and has very long arms. But you know, if they were able to doubleteam him he’d wouldn’t have blocked that punt (against Ohio State). I mean, he started a true freshman in four games. That’s pretty impressive.”
Bradley said individual talent is not as important as team unity.
“You want everyone buying in because once everyone is buying in you have a better chance,” he said.
According to Bradley, his most successful seasons came from team “that have not been the most talented” but did “drink the Kool Aid” and bought into his system.
“Teams that have been very mediocre below average seasons, they have been talented but we don’t have everybody trusting with what the coaching staff has been putting out there,” he said. “That’s certainly happened before but I’d always take the team buying in it makes the experience more enjoyable and I think it gives us a better chance to win.”
According to Cilento, the number of times a player touches the ball is not necessarily the key to success.
“Again, I wouldn’t say it’s the amount of touches. Yeah, with passes even with Dwayne – an unbelievable talent – it was how can we best use this kid to, you know, win games?” he said.
However, Cilento added having a star player can lead to ah-ha moments.
“You can put on a Devonte Williams highlight film. You won’t see another back like that. You won’t see another Dwayne Haskins in the County. People say he was the best quarterback in the country. So, I mean your number two passer in the country. The kid could throw the ball and put the ball wherever he needed to. You won’t find another guy like that. (It’s the) same thing with Devonte Williams back at Indiana. He made guys miss. He could do it all,” said the coach.
Cilento added that having talent does make his job easier.
“They make you a lot better coaches, players like that,” he said.