Saints Going Old School With New Coach for Wins
Thu. October 25, 2012 at 11:00 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
WINTER HAVEN | Jahna Field didn't make the list of haunted venues to tour this weekend, but lately it's been a pretty hair-raising venue for All Saints' football opponents.
The Saints have been scaring the mouthpieces out of visiting teams, winning their last two games by a combined score of 85-0.
All Saints is 3-2 with three games remaining on an eight-game schedule and now seems far removed from its ghastly 0-10 finish last year. The Saints host Legacy Charter (5-3) tonight, and Athletic Director Steven Canlon said the school has seen an average increase in home attendance of more than 100 fans per game.
"The players are excited, and the community is excited," All Saints first-year head coach Gary Tufford said. "It's what we really wanted to see happen. It's such a great atmosphere here, academically, and to see the football program come up and people support it, it's huge."
Tufford, a former wide receiver in the Canadian Football League (1975-78) with the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, vowed to implement an old-school approach at ASA, and it's paying early dividends.
"We stuck to that creed. We said if we win football games it will be because we blocked and tackled better than the other teams, and that's exactly what is happening," Tufford said.
"We run the football. We don't make any bones about it. And we run right at you. We play old-fashion football. And on defense, we attack and we tackle."
The Saints opened the season with an 8-6 loss at International Community before tasting victory a week later with a 69-6 drubbing of Vanguard.
"This school has never scored 69 points on anybody in the history of the school, and we go out there and win 69-6. That was huge for these guys," Tufford said. "They got a taste of the high."
The high has spread from the field to the stands and the school's hallways and classrooms.
"Fans are staying for the whole game. Football is really bringing the whole school together again," senior running back Troy MacNeill said. "Kids I've never seen in my life are stopping me in the hallways and saying, ‘Good luck.'?"
Canlon said he is very pleased with team's success and with Tufford.
"He has instilled some sense of direction and purpose by going back to the basics. There were a lot of people that wanted to try different things. But Gary said we weren't ready for that yet, and he was right," Canlon said.
All Saints football is classified as an independent, but talk of seeking a district assignment is beginning to surface.
"As soon as you start to win, people automatically begin to have those conversations," Tufford said. "We're going to take it season by season. We're going to finish this one out and finish it as high as we can and then regroup.
"Before we move up we have to get some more kids into the program and more people on the field so we can compete against schools that have 30 and 35 guys. We're playing with 23 guys, so that's a pretty slim roster."