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Tigers making "No Excuses"

Posted: Saturday, May 12th, 2012

New Marana coach Andy Litten, far right, works with the defensive linemen during Friday's spring practice.

It’s obvious that new Marana football coach Andy Litten is trying to invoke a new culture change with the Tiger program. One needs to just look at the back of the team’s shirts to see a new message, “No Excuses.”

For a program that has won just once in the past 20 games, it is easy to make excuses. Injuries, lack of depth and the illness of the head coach are all excuses that could be made for the lack of success. One could blame coaches, players, heck, even the culture of the school that has seen a number of top athletes bypass football for other endeavors.

Those are reasons for a lack of success, even obstacles, but as of now they are no longer excuses.

The Tigers just completed their second week of spring football and they literally wear the “No Excuses” motto on their backs.

Litten is trying to erase the past this spring. The Tiger program has lacked numbers for some time, yet there were nearly 60 players out at practice on Friday. Next year the program will get an infusion of more when the freshman class is promoted from Marana middle school.

After the “no excuses” shirts, the first things that jumps out at you is the number of new faces. There are few holdovers from last year’s coaching staff. Unlike Mountain View, where much of the staff was retained, Litten has brought in a number of new faces, most guys he has worked with along the way.

Fundamentals seem to be the emphasis, but not in the way I am accustomed to seeing in a spring camp. Broad concepts are being taught, but micro details are being stressed at the same time. While formations and stances are being taught, so are things like hand placement and feet angles. Players are not just being taught how to shed a block, but how to shed specific blocks. It’s like Football 101 combined with a masters class all at once.

Players are being held accountable. There were a lot of push-ups and up-downs being given out. Just because the team is five months away from kickoff, does not mean they can jump offsides or forget a snap count.

One thing I liked was that the coaches wanted to make sure the players not only knew “what happened” during a mistake, but why it happened. On a few occasions I heard Litten or one of his assistants ask a player “what happened?” Once the player demonstrated what went wrong, the coach would then explain why it went wrong and tell the player how to fix the problem.

Midway through practice Litten told the team “so far today has been a good day.” From the sound of it, the whole spring has been good, but the program has a long way to go. You don’t rebuild a winless team over night.

The team breaks huddles with the chant, “work hard…win!” If they take it to heart, they just might prove the axiom true.

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Keywords: Marana Tigers, Marana football, Andy Litten,

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