Q&A with coach Melvin Pete:
Rebecca Johnston: I know this season would be a dream come true for any coach. Tell us what it's like to lead this impressive team.
Coach Melvin Pete: "I won't say it's been a surprise, but it's been wonderful because of the senior leadership that we have. Our guys really understanding how to play football. We have matured to a certain level where we are playing at a decent level right now, and I still think that the best is yet to come."
RJ: That sounds like scary news for your opponents. How much better can you get?
MP: "We haven't gotten into everything. I have to understand that sometimes we work on certain things, and sometimes we don't have to use it. Some of our playbook is getting rusty, and I have to remind myself as a coach that we haven't gone over that in a long time. I wonder if the kids remember it, but sometimes things don't have to be polished."
RJ: You had to pull your starters early a couple of weeks ago. You were up 40-0 at halftime.
MP: DeMario [Pippen] had maybe three carries, and I think Derrick Cade might have had two carries. I didn't let Jeremy [Williams] throw the ball much (three times). We're not trying to run the score up on anybody."
"We're trying to build something here. They aren't really jealous if they don't have a real big stat game. It's more they are trying to be all-around leaders. Sometimes you have to sacrifice some things, and that is what we are trying to teach them as well."
"They already understand, and it doesn't matter to them whether they get one or two carries. They were happy to see the other guys play."
"Like Jeremy was happy when the other quarterback threw a touchdown pass and ran one in for a touchdown. Jeremy said "Coach it just feels like he's my son". I said, "No, I'm the daddy. You are the son, and the big brother. He's the baby brother." So that's how that goes here."
RJ: Describe the player when you hear the name, Jeremy Williams?
MP: "Strong arm and knowledge of the game."
RJ: DeMario Pippen?
MP: Athlete, all-around. I'll be honest with you if I had a son I would want him to be DeMario."
RJ: Marsellos Wilder?
MP: "Tremendous athlete, speed, fast, quickness, and the best is yet to come. His brother is an Olympic hopeful.* After he graduated from here, he grew four more inches, so we are probably looking at Marsellos (6-3) growing another couple of inches, and he's only going to get faster."
RJ: Derrick Cade?
MP: The heart and basically the soul of the team, in how far his character has come. A power runner. A lot of people don't know we basically have a thunder-and-lightning situation. Demario is lightning, and Derrick is thunder.
RJ: Who is the most unsung player?
MP: "A junior right now. Actually two I believe are playing at a very high level. Their names are Johnathan Edwards, defensive back. He has over five interceptions and Corey Waldon is our other receiver. Corey against Northview had a breakout game. He had 230 yards in receptions and two touchdowns."
RJ: Any injuries?
MP: "We don't have any injuries. We are a little banged up, but nothing that we really even speak upon."
RJ: How is this week's preprations?
MP: "Sometimes when we have good weeks of practice it doesn't really turn out that good for us. Sometimes when we struggle I can usually tell by Wednesday night if we are going to do well, or not do well."
"Our kids kind of put it in a frame of mind, and they seem to concentrate a little bit more when they don't practice as well during the week."
RJ: Do you think it keeps them from getting over confident?
MP: "Exactly. Then I have to come around with a pin and bust some (big) heads. I have to pop a few egos."
RJ: Is that a problem?
MP: "No. I'll be honest with you. The thing about it is we all came from I guess you could say nothing, especially losing the first year, being humbled, actually just enhancing their talents is more of a humbling situation.
"Even the way we played last year and losing the games that we lost last year was humbling. They do a very good job of keeping their confidence at the right level."
RJ: That was a thrilling and I know heartbreaking loss in the state play-offs last year (33-32 OT) to Thomasville. Did you get the kind of response you expected after that loss? Did it leave them hungry?
MP: "Oh yes. Some of them wanted to get in the weight room right after. I said no. We have to take a break. Sometimes I want to see that growth as far as their mentality and their maturity to see if they are on pace to grow up."
"When I first got here I was telling them you know how you see some of those guys that are dominant that make the game look real easy. That means they are a full-grown man playing with some boys. That's what I want. Let's try to make you that full-grown man and enhance your talents. That way you can start understanding this is how you play the game."
"That's why we spend a lot of time going to a lot of different camps, not only to put your name out there, but to also see other great players in the country."
RJ: We interviewed your players back in the spring, and they impressed us with their humble, respectful manner tinged with a little excitement. What do they mean to you?
MP: I'm going to be honest with you. I know I have a very special team, and man I enjoy them as much as anything."
*Marsellos Wilder's brother, Deontay Wilder, is a heavyweight boxer and stands 6-7 198 pounds with a 34.5 reach. He is a two-time Alabama Golden Gloves Champion, 2007 Southern Golden Gloves Champion, 2007 National Golden Gloves Champion, 2007 Southeastern District Champion. Deontay played football, basketball, baseball and ran track while at Central High School.
Class 4A Schedules and Scores