In his first two seasons as Talladega High School’s head football coach, Ted Darby’s mantra of “Losing is Not an Option” served as inspiration for the Tigers in back-to-back playoff appearances.
Entering his third year at the helm and his team coming off a 28-0 loss to Jacksonville on Friday in a spring jamboree, Darby said his players need to be ready when summer workouts and practices begin as the Tigers look to replace eight graduating seniors.
“We’ve got to have a great summer,” he said. “We’re young in a lot of things, different positions and whatever … We’ve got a lot of work to do this summer.
“I’m going to keep reiterating that and keep repeating it, but we do.”
The original plan for Talladega on Friday was to play three quarters with the varsity team and one with the junior varsity squad, but a lightning delay of more than an hour forced each team playing in the back-to-back jamboree to forgo a quarter of action. Wellborn and Cedar Bluff competed in the nightcap.
“We had to finish the first quarter because we still had eight minutes to go,” Darby said. “So we finished the first quarter with the varsity, played a 12-minute second quarter with the varsity and played a 10-minute third quarter with the JV. We didn’t get to do what we wanted to do.”
Darby said his team struggled to get into a rhythm after the lightning delay.
“We just didn’t block well. We didn’t tackle well. We didn’t line up well. We didn’t throw it well and we didn’t run it well,” he said. “Every facet of it, we just didn’t do it. We were too inconsistent.”
He added he’s not looking for the rising seniors or any player in particular to rise up and lead the Tigers through the necessary work because he expects it from everyone in the program.
“(We’re) a blue-collar football team,” Darby said. “The (work) is going to fall on the shoulders of every player and every coach … We’ve got to come to work and play Talladega football. We’re not going to back to the old Talladega.
“The thing about what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to take care of ourselves and do what we’re supposed to do. We’ve got to coach them up, and they’ve got to play it up. That’s just what we’ve got to do. We’re going to get tougher this summer.”
Darby said he wants his players to come back for summer workouts in the right mindset to compete and not with the same mentality that showed against the Eagles.
“We’ve got to become focused,” he said. “We don’t play football like that. We had a lot in that game that I saw where we just quit on assignments. ... We didn’t play fully from whistle to whistle …
“I wasn’t worried about anybody but us. I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning watching (tape), just like if we were in a (regular-season) game. I’m disappointed in the way we played, the way we had done, the way we had coached it -- everything … We’re going to be focused on us. We’re going to improve and we’re going to fix it.”