HIGHLAND SPRINGS, Va. (WWBT) - No VHSL team has ever won five consecutive state titles. Come December, Highland Springs hopes to have put itself in a position to do just that, but under the hot August sun, the topic of conversation is not a five-peat just yet.
“Train like you haven’t won anything,” said Springers’ head coach Loren Johnson. “Prepare yourself as if you’ve never done this before and this is the first time you’ve had an opportunity to.”
Johnson and his staff have certainly created a winning culture at Highland Springs and continuing that culture is what they strive to achieve as they kickoff another season. Approaching the upcoming campaign like they haven’t won anything yet is what the head coach is hoping his team can do, but knows it’s not necessarily that simple.
“It’s easier said than done when guys can look at a board or they can look at a ring or they can say ‘hey, we won a state championship,’ people are writing articles about it,” Johnson added. “For us, inside our locker room, we know we have to prepare like our life depends on it everyday.”
“The bar is set to win every single opportunity that we can- in practice, in the game, in the state championship, everything we like to do, we like to win the day every single day,” senior defensive back Malcolm Greene said.
The Springers have won four straight state crowns, one of just three teams in VHSL history to ever accomplish that feat. During that span, they’re 57-3, and return seven starters on both sides of the ball. Winning a fifth title in a row, however, is not what Johnson wants his players discussing at this point, rather putting themselves in position to earn that opportunity by doing the little things now.
“It’s something that we’re all aware of,” the head coach said. “We’re not oblivious to the fact that something out there of this nature is there, but we know we’ve got to win a lot of ball games and play a lot of good football and play against ten great football teams.”
Those are ten teams that Johnson agrees make up the toughest schedule that Highland Springs has seen. In addition to their usual Capital District gauntlet, the Springers will see Oscar Smith, Manchester, Colonial Forge, and two tough out-of-state opponents in Avalon (MD) and Page (NC).
“You’ve got teams that have quality coaches with the goal of just to beat up on Highland Springs, so we’ve got to take that, understand it, know what we need to do and be successful at it,” remarked Johnson of his squad’s 2019 schedule.
No matter who is on the opposite sideline, however, the Springers have become comfortable being the hunted, and it’s a feeling that they welcome."
“We want to maintain the culture that we have, but to do so you’ve got to fend off a lot of enemies or a lot of swords or a lot of weapons,” said Johnson. “We know that no weapon formed against us can prosper so we just know we’re going to continue to move forward and work as best as we possibly can.”
Highland Springs kicks off its 2019 slate on August 30 at home against Avalon.
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