Led by slimmed-down coach, unbeaten Carver is living large

On High Schools

High schools

October 30, 2005|By MILTON KENT

The Carver football team's reversal of fortune is having a residual effect through all corners of the school, with just about everyone wanting a piece of the team.

Talk about a shift in the supply-demand curve: One of the school's economics teachers is showing game films during class. Life is good all over.

The Bears, who went 0-10 last season, improved to 8-0 with Friday night's 26-0 win over Southwestern and have a decent shot to claim the school's first state playoff berth.

Fourteen starters returned from last year, so the change at Carver has been about internal advancement, not physical improvement.

"Last year, everybody wanted to play the spot that they wanted to play, not where the coaches wanted them to play," said quarterback Christian Golder. "This year, the coaches put everybody in position where they can make plays. It's just better this year."

Golder, for instance, is living proof of the power of putting people in the right position and letting them play. The senior was expected to play receiver, with Tyrelle Wyche returning at quarterback, but after summer drills, coach Ron Frierson switched to Golder, who threw for two touchdowns Friday.

The change could have had a disastrous effect on the Bears, but the team's balanced offense has taken off.

"We're seniors, so we're more mature," said Benjamin Washington, a senior wide receiver and defensive back. "[There's] more discipline, more focus. We're willing to put in the hard work since Aug. 15 [the first day of practice]."

For Frierson, the improvement this season - the best in his 11 years as coach - can be explained on two levels.

First, Frierson said, he has players with experience. That's important for a team at a vocational school that draws its student base from all over the city.

"I've said that I see our players coming to Carver on a two-year cycle, rather than a four-year cycle," Frierson said. "On a four-year cycle, you win your championships with three- and four-year players, because you have them that long. But kids who come to Carver are coming to a vocational school. They're thinking about jobs and working.

"These kids live all across the city - from Brooklyn, Westport, Sinclair Lane, Park Heights, from all over. In the summertime, Aug. 15, some of them don't have bus fare and they have to work. It's not like in the neighborhood school, where you can call that morning practice and the kid walks five minutes and he's at the school in 10 or 15 minutes. We don't have that."

What he has this year is a group of players who are accountable to each other, who listen to the coaching staff, which preaches the value of listening to and believing in each other.

"I am teaching them about football, and part of that philosophy is values," Frierson said. "We teach values every morning, every afternoon and every day. I see these kids believing in what we present to them, so they keep coming back.

"And it's not just one or two, but it's the majority of the team. When we have a few that are not following the guidelines that we put forth, then we seek peer pressure on those. They are working as a unit, not as individuals."

Toward that end, Frierson isn't afraid to get parents involved to keep players in line. He tells of the day in practice when he called a player's mother on a cell phone and put the call on a speaker so that the affected player and his teammates could hear her chew him out. He hasn't had to do that again.

And Frierson himself hasn't been immune from a fundamental change. He has lost 150 pounds over the past year, and while he won't say what his starting weight was or what he weighs now, his smaller size is quite the buzz at the Southwest Baltimore school.

Frierson, 52, said he has given up fast food, cola drinks, fried food and his beloved baked macaroni and cheese. He said he built a grill in his backyard out of a metal drum and now cooks fish or chicken on that or in his oven.

"It was almost like going cold turkey, but I did it," Frierson said. "It's almost like another Jared [the Subway spokesman]. I can see it in my pants. It's amazing. I looked at myself in pictures, and I didn't like what I saw, so I had to make a change in my life."

And since the physical supply of Frierson has decreased, his team's demand for his knowledge and wisdom has increased, a page right out of Economics 101.

"This is a time when I could really look at myself, too," Frierson said. "I wanted to come back to these kids rejuvenated. I wanted to show these kids that I was on a mission, but I was also on a mission to get them to move forward with their play on the football field."


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