Q&A: Whittell head coach happy with grid success, not academic struggles
Whittell head coach and athletic director Phillip Bryant is in his fourth year leading the Warriors football program. During his time in Zephyr Cove, Whittell has lost just six games while winning 34. He’s won a 1A Northern West 8-Man League title and appeared in the state championship game in 2015.
The Warriors (5-0, 3-0 1A Northern West) will play Sierra Lutheran (0-4, 0-3 1A Northern West) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Carson City. Bryant took the time out of practice Tuesday to speak with Tahoe Daily Tribune Sports Editor Bill Rozak.
TDT: Coach, you guys are 5-0 and fresh off a 62-6 homecoming victory, how do you think your team is performing?
PB: We’re playing pretty well. We seemed to have settled in on the offense that suits us best, suits our talent. We were kinda up in the air at the beginning of the year whether we would be a 50-50 run pass team. We’ve settled in to a lot more runs, but when you get ahead early, it’s just not appropriate to be throwing with a big lead late in games.
Defensively, I think we need to make a few adjustments. We’ve had a little trouble recently stopping the run. Coach (Doug) Patton will have to look at what we need to do to beat the teams we need to beat to win the league title like VC (Virginia City), Mineral County and Smith Valley. But we like where we are.
TDT: Those are your last three games?
PB: Yes. Sierra Lutheran is coming up (at 1 p.m. Saturday in Carson City) and they haven’t played well so far this year but we seem to bring out the best in everybody.
TDT: You had a discussion a couple weeks ago with your team about grades, how did they respond?
PB: I think some kids are struggling right now keeping up with homework. They’ve settled into their routines around school. They’ve started to develop some habits in the classroom I don’t like. They don’t understand how it goes hand in hand that out here. We’re essentially teachers like in a classroom. We’re putting in things to make them better and so forth. They are attentive and they take care of business. Then they get into the classroom and at times they’re not carrying the same characteristics and they’re just trying to slide by and that’s just not acceptable.
TDT: It seems like you’re spending as much time talking about academics as athletics?
PB: They go hand in hand, I’m trying to get them to understand that it’s all teaching and learning. They think there’s a difference to what you learn in the classroom to what you learn out here. I’m trying to get them to understand it’s going to be way more important what they do in the classroom than what they do out here. That’s part of our job too, if they’re ineligible we don’t have them. If kids are struggling in class, they can go in now during practice and study and come out here late, there is no penalty. I think it’s important what they do here academically.
TDT: Coach, there’s grass on the new field, what are your thoughts about the progress?
PB: We’re all excited when we look down there and see the green. There’s no place to sit yet, but it’s exciting to see it. Everybody seems to have mixed emotions about whether it should have been grass or turf, and we shoulda done this or shoulda done that, well, that’s a lot of money. We’re not complaining about anything. We just wish it were ready for the seniors so they could experience playing in the new facility. But it is what it is. We’re having a good time playing over at the middle school (South Tahoe Middle School). We’re getting good crowds and good support. We’re very happy that the donation came in from the family and the future students will really enjoy the facilities. It’s a great addition to our school.