It’s a chemistry that can’t be cooked up in a laboratory, nor drawn up on a locker room chalk board.
Veteran football coach Greg Winder views camaraderie as a strength for his 2017 Stephenville varsity squad, which returns 22 lettermen from last season.
The Yellow Jackets appear to be a tight-knit group, Winder said, as they embark on their third season with him as the head coach.
“It’s a group (that has) always stuck together,” Winder said Wednesday afternoon as the team was ramping up for last night’s regular-season opener at home against Cleburne. “Our camaraderie is good.”
Winder said that the football players are seldom seen alone, because they tend to hang out together in groups everywhere they go.
“If you see one, you’ll see four of them,” Winder said. “That’s great to see.”
Another aspect of this year’s squad is that they seem to be a fun-loving bunch. But they also have a good balance in realizing when it’s time to get serious about preparation.
“These kids, they understand that. They know when it’s time to go have fun and they know when it’s time to work," Winder said. "I’ve been around some teams that didn’t know how to change gears and go to work.”
Winder said not only has the basic core group played together for a long time to reach that positive state of togetherness, there have been few problems along the way.
“In today’s world, hats off to the parents trying to raise kids,” Winder said. “These kids, for the most part, haven’t had problems. These players have played together a long time.”
As a result of the cohesive nature of the 2017 team, selfishness also shouldn’t be a concern, Winder said.
"We’re not going to have that,” he said. “That’s not part of being a team. We haven’t had that. I talked to them about bonding, and so far it’s been pretty good.”
And when it’s real, a coach can tell.
“Young men will be young men, but you can tell if it’s for real or not. I can tell it is,” Winder said.
Winder said that emotion will be a key factor as the Jackets try to improve on the 3-8 record they posted last season, reaching the bi-district round of the playoffs.
“I think you’ll see a lot of emotion — hopefully a lot of high-fiving,” Winder said. “We coach that you have to have a lot of emotion. That’s a big part of our game, and bonding as a team.”
A prime example of the team’s feeling of togetherness is the offensive line, the coach noted. That’s one area where it’s essential for success, he said.
“They work as one unit, so they’ve got to trust each other,” Winder stated. “They’ve got to be a very tight-knit group.”
Next Friday, Sept. 8, the Yellow Jackets will have their first road game of the new season at Springtown, with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.