RETURN TO GLORY: The Peck Pirates
The Pirates got involved with the BFS weight training program and the results were incredible.
By Willard Roles, Head Football Coach, Peck H.S.
Published: Spring 2002
During fall 2000 the Peck Pirates suffered through a football season of 3 wins/6 losses, and for the second year in a row did not qualify for the Michigan High School Athletic Association's state football playoffs. After that season the coaching staff decided to guide the upcoming players of the 2001 season into a weight lifting program that the coaches felt could help turn things around for the Pirates.
The Pirates got involved with the BFS weight training program and the results were incredible. Thirteen seniors of the 25-player roster led the charge. Seniors-to-be and captains Matt Sheridan, Rod Duckworth and Josh Griggs were instrumental in getting other players into the weight room during late winter, early spring and summer. Just prior to the season, a fourth captain was named. Senior Steve Bailey had worked extremely hard during the off-season and often made extra car trips to pick up other players who didn't have a ride to the weight room. Because of his extra efforts, Steve was rewarded with a captain's position. Steve had this to say about the weight room workouts. "I feel the weight lifting greatly improved our team's performance on the field; however, I also feel the biggest improvement came from the confidence we gained through hard work as a team in the weight room."
Peck High School is a small Class D school in the Thumb area of southeastern Michigan. With a high school enrollment of 165 students in grades 9 through 12, the varsity football team usually averages about 20 players per season. During the spring most of the football players are involved in other sports. This means that in order to go to their spring sport practices after school this past season, the football players had to come to the school as early as 6:30 a.m. to lift weights, with assistant coaches Tom Kreger and Mike McLaughlin supervising the workouts. The turnout was great, with attendance generally ranging from 18 to 24 football players each morning. Any player not involved in a spring sport could also lift in the mornings or after school with assistant coach Sterling Sarnac supervising.
Superintendent Michael Tubbs had this to say about the morning weight lifting. "The student-athletes, behind the leadership of a caring coaching staff, dedicated themselves to 'make a difference' through hard work, a positive attitude and a pure commitment to the overall football program. The players finally saw the results of their actions. They took pride in their accomplish-ments and set the bar higher for others to reach. In doing so, they met the challenge 'Right Now' and BFS helped put them in role model status."
"Right Now" - the team motto for the 2001 season-was taken from the Van Halen song "Right Now." The coaches asked the players, "What are you going to do Right Now to prepare for the football season next fall?" And as the song says, "Why wait until tomorrow? Why put it off another day?"
When school was out for the summer, the players continued to work hard in the weight room. Then, with their evenings available, the players had the time they needed to concentrate on just football while they lifted. Several players also attended various camps during the summer that helped improve their skills.
The 2001 football season that followed was incredible. Beginning with the opening game on the road, a 42-6 victory over a Class C school, the team's training results were evident. Bodies flew all over the football field in that game. And it wasn't the Pirates's. Their opponents found themselves flying from the amazing hits that were applied by the Peck players. The players, spectators and coaches had never seen such hard hitting as they saw from the Peck Pirates that night. And that was just the beginning.
As the season went on, there was no doubt that the time and hard work spent in the weight room had paid off. On both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, the Pirates showed they were a much stronger team physically. Assistant coach and defensive coordinator Mike McLaughlin made this observation: "What I saw that first game was unbelievable. All 11 of our defenders were in on almost every tackle as our kids were throwing blockers off themselves to get to the football, and the hits were at a level I had never before witnessed at Peck".
What followed were a North Central Thumb League championship and a perfect regular season: 9 wins, 0 losses. The Pirates, a Class D school, went on to beat two Class C schools in addition to four other schools in their division that would later qualify for the state playoffs. The Pirates themselves were back in the state playoffs again with a school record of 10 wins, before bowing out of the playoffs in game 11.
It was truly a great season for the Peck Pirates, one that began long before the opening kickoff. The time and commitment these young men made to work hard in the weight room and make themselves better players paid off. There is no doubt that in setting their goals high and having a positive attitude to reach them, the Peck Pirates were able to return to the place they wanted to be: league champions and in the state playoffs. Everyone at Peck is 100 percent committed to the belief that the BFS weight training program was instrumental in turning the team in the direction it needed to go.
Thanks for sharing your inspirational story. The Peck Pirates demonstrated an Eleven attitude with their “Right Now” Theme.
- Dr. Greg Shepard