ZIONSVILLE – It’s almost as if there was a metronome on the field.
Play. Critique. Walk. Play. Critique.
It’s goes like this for about 20 minutes on any given day at a Zionsville football practice. Each snap of the ball by the quarterback then subsequent fire off the ball by the lineman and backs might need a little more or less advice each time, but Larry McWhorter never breaks pace.
“We want to come with effort every day and improve our technique,” said the Zionsville coach-with a major emphasis on the latter.
In the 18 seasons he’s been at Zionsville, teaching the basic fundamentals of the game have been critical to McWhorter. It’s the reason he’s stays very active in practices whether in team or individual sessions.
“From a player’s standpoint we respect him a lot because he knows the game of football better than anyone I’ve ever been around,” said Zionsville senior safety and wide receiver Ben Kocher of McWhorter.
The philosophy has paid off for the coach, who has enjoyed a strong run of success in nearly two decades at the school. Coming into the 2013 season McWhorter has a record of 147-54-including an 8-3 mark in 2012.
“Effort and technique are big things here,” said Zionsville senior defensive end and fullback Nick Maines of McWhorter. “We may not be the biggest and fastest and strongest guys but we definitely have a good basis of effort and technique and that’s pretty much what our program has been built on.”
Yet McWhorter’s will be taking that philosophy somewhere else in 2014. Last May he accepted the head coaching job at Covenant Christian High School, which will start-up a football program for next season.
“Very difficult, ” said McWhorter of taking the new job. “A lot of prayer, a lot of counseling with other folks that knew the situation both places and decided it was time to take a rare opportunity to start a new program. The time in my life to do that.”
But there was also the time to make one more good run at Zionsville. Instead of immediately leaving to start preparing for Covenant Christian’s 2014 debut, he decided to make it one more season with the Eagles, continuing just as he had the previous 17 seasons.
“The folks at Covenant wanted to see me continue to coach another year, they thought that would be good for them in this transition and I think the people in Zionsville wanted me to stay around another year too,” said McWhorter-and don’t think his player appreciated it.
Many of the seniors felt honored that they would be the ones to finish off the McWhorter era of Eagles football. It will be a season of transition with most of the defense and offensive skill position starters different from those who took the field in 2012.
Yet for those playing their final year in Zionsville feel the need to end the coach’s tenure the right way in 2013.
“It means a lot that he would stay for our senior class,” said Maines. “He could have left after last year after a good season but it means a lot that he stayed for our senior class and we’re ready to send him off with a good note.”
Thought McWhorter insists that nothing will change during the final days of his run with the Eagles. While admitting that at times the prospect of ending his time in Zionsville creeps into his head, the challenge of a young team in his final season is enough to maintain focus on the season ahead.
“I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t emotional,” said McWhorter of the senior year. “But I’ve tried to keep all that behind me. There is a big job to do here this year and I get up each morning and focus on that.”
Along with the little things that have made for nearly two decades of success in green and silver.