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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017 2 years ago

Xtra Point: I'm convinced coach Pepper Johnson's a top quality coach

The Sandcrabs’ Coach Pep Johnson has the makings of a quality coach.
by: Jeff Dawsey Sports Editor

Before heading into their locker room after a comeback win, I could hear a couple Sandcrabs praising head coach Pepper Johnson as the “best coach around here.” While I can’t go that far, because I haven’t seen most of the other area coaches, I do believe Johnson is a really good one.

As I stated in a recent column about late-game fouling, I tend to count teams out, when they go down by 15 points or more at any time in the game. I was never more confident in my theory, when Seabreeze trailed 19-0 against Westside this past weekend.

There were losing 39-17 at halftime, and I just knew the mercy rule would soon be enforced to quickly end the game. Little did I know coach Pep was encouraging his team to keep fighting — which they did.

At this point, his Sandcrabs were 4-14 on the season, and it had been a while since they had won a game. They could have easily given up and mailed it in. Instead, they returned after halftime with playoff-like intensity, and neither Westside nor I was prepared for that.

Good coaches are defined by many different markings. How do their players respond to them? How do they handle adversity? Do their players believe in their vision? Or do coaches help their players reach their full potential?

I remember a moment in the game (see the picture) when a player made a mistake, and coach Pep called him over, told him what should’ve happened, and then he embraced him and sent him back out. I thought to myself, “I would want to play for someone like that.”

I’ve seen many coaches berate their players in such demeaning manners, and it always disgusts me.

There was another instance — late in the game — when another player turned the ball over. His teammate expressed some displeasure, but Johnson told them both that it was OK. That player made a big play on the ensuing defensive possession.

We often equate records with good and bad coaches, but I have to disagree. Based on what I saw, Johnson’s kids would run through a wall for him. They wouldn’t do that for a bad coach.

Remember this? I wrote an article about former Seabreeze basketball player Terrell Ivey’s transformation from a gang lifestyle to an honor roll student. He also praised Johnson’s influence in his life. Click here to read that story:

Jeff Dawsey began his professional journalism career and his Observer employment in August of 2014. He is currently the Palm Coast and Ormond Beach Sports Editor, and he also writes business for just Palm Coast. In 2014, he graduated from Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville...

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