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Football coach predicts better days ahead
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After posting a 4-6 record in his first full year at the helm of the Richmond Hill High School football program, coach Lyman Guy believes better days lie ahead for the Wildcats. Guy recently took time to answer questions about the program, its direction and more.

Q: First, congratulations. Four wins for a first-year head coach at a program which hasn’t won that many games in a single season since 1996 is quite an accomplishment. Especially since your team was also playing its first season in a higher classification. With that said, what were your expectations in terms of record? What did you think this team was capable of?

A: I really am not very good at projecting season records but I saw the potential for us to be better than the past. We just have to get these kids believing in themselves. I felt we accomplished that this season by competing and winning some games.

Q: Coaches often point to the weight room and offseason workouts as a big part of making improvements from one season to the next. What has to be the Wildcats No. 1 priority during the offseason?

A: We have an off-season academic plan, strength and speed training plan, nutritional plan and many other things going on. It takes all these elements for us to build a great program.

Q:  You won two Georgia Independent School Association state titles as head coach at Robert Toombs Christian Academy, but until coming to RHHS had never been head coach at a public high school competing in the Georgia High School Association. Was the transition easier or harder than you thought? Was there anything about coaching at a public school that caught you by surprise?

A: I visited several schools that had success -- public, private and collegiate -- and they all had some common threads that tie all winning programs together. This formula I believe works at all levels, coaching is coaching. I do believe the big difference in Class A compared to AAAA is the number of Division 1 athletes you face and the level of competition is higher because of that. Also, the larger classification has more coaches and that usually adds up to better coached positional players -- and often players only play one position, which helps in coaching.

Q: Are you related to Hall of Fame punter Ray Guy?

A: No, not that I know of.

Q:  The Wildcats lose a number of seniors who played important roles on both sides of the ball. Eli Thompson comes most immediately to mind, but as coach you likely see the contributions of your kids better than the rest of us. Here’s your chance to give props to your seniors. Say as much or as little as you want to about them.

A: It will be hard to replace this senior class, which has laid the foundation for our future. The seniors have worked very hard and have led the way and given the underclassmen a great example.

Q: You also have some important kids coming back next year? Who will you look to for leadership, performance, etc?

A: We are returning a very talented group of players who have a great potential to do great things, but ultimately their season will depend on how hard we work this off season. Leaders emerge during off-season training; we have some young men who I think can be great leaders for our program.

Q:  Let’s dissect 2010 a little bit. Two of your team’s four wins came against South Effingham -- a similar "suburban Savannah" program with a first-year head coach. The other two came early and at home against Savannah schools from Region 3-AAAAA. 
But you also gave Liberty County fits and nearly upset Brunswick, and a number of observers say this year’s Wildcat football team was one of the best from RHHS they’ve seen in years. All this suggests your program is in better shape than it was a year ago and going in the right direction.
How do you keep that momentum going so you can close that gap between RHHS and the top programs in your region and, ultimately, the state?

A: We have a plan in place that has worked in other programs. We need to make notable changes and we need the support of our community, Board of Education, administration and all.
We are asking the kids to buy in and believe, but the kids need to see the support of the community as well.

Q: There’s a cliché that says football teams often make the most improvement from the first to second game of the season. But teams don’t always improve from the first year of a new regime to the next. What do you do to avoid a sophomore slump?

A: Consistency and understanding that the coaches can only “sow the seeds” and only the Lord can stir the heart’s of young men to do great things.

Q: Until this season, Richmond Hill had won only 16 games in this decade (it now has 20 wins since 2000). Since 1986 the program has a 67-169-2 record and only three winning seasons, according to the Georgia High School Historians Association. Yet you seem confident you can turn the program into a consistent winner, and point to what you see as strengths – solid community support, the quality of kids coming into the program, etc.
That leads to two questions: 1. Why haven’t those strengths translated into more onfield success in the past?
2. What will it take to continue to improve as a program and turn high expectations into reality?

A: I can't answer for the past, but what will it take to continue improvement? I think we need to get our budget up to match other programs we play against along with increasing our staff to match other region programs and improve our facilities. However, without the Lord blessing our efforts I would think we would still fall short.

Q: You have been very up front about the role faith plays in your life and in your coaching.
Please share that role with our readers.

A: All I read is scripture and it influences my daily decision making. In a position of leadership I have to make decisions that affect young men’s lives every day. I rely on God’s wisdom on many of my decisions. I realize that only God can inspire young men to do great things! Understanding that we can only guide them but ultimately they must understand “they do what they do” for unselfish reasons.
Football is a sport that is as close to a family as the real thing. Everything you do affects others close to you, your actions affect others. You must think of others before yourself.  Coaches must earn the respect of their players.
I think this can only be accomplished through a love for these kids.
Without “Love” there is never respect. I am at a loss to think to ask these young men to sacrifice what they do for a “game.” We teach and push them to work hard because this game is so much what life is all about. We don’t do what we do for the scoreboard, but to honor our family and our Father in heaven. Once young men realize this, their passion is unwavering.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: The Richmond Hill Gridiron Association has been so instrumental in the success of this season and a primary part in the program moving into the right direction.
(Gridiron president) Butch Broome’s efforts and his leadership of the Gridiron have allowed us to accomplish many things, and if not for Butch’s efforts and vision I wouldn’t be here.

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