CLAYTON — The third era of Clayton football in the past half century got its unofficial earlier this month as new Comets head coach Randy Pinkowski spent the night before his first day on the job meeting and greeting his future players and fans.
Pinkowski, who officially joined the Clayton High School staff Feb. 1, knows much has to happen behind the scenes before cleats hit the practice field in early August.
“Teams are built from January to June,” Pinkowski said. “It’s the most important building block you have for a season. Being here will give me time to get to know the kids, time to sit down with our coaches and build those relationships. It’s crucial to use these next few months as wisely as you can. It’s doesn’t start on Aug. 1 for a new head coach.”
Pinkowski is using technology to try and get to know his future players better. When he greeted a prospective player during Thursday’s event he encouraged them to go online and fill out the player information forms and a 2012 post-season questionnaire.
“Nobody knows what’s going on better than the kids,” Pinkowski said. “What they like and don’t like. Maybe what I think is a great idea, isn’t such a great idea in their eyes. I try to be a little more cognizant of that as I get older. We still, as coaches, need to be able to see things through teenage eyes.”
During an address of the players and their families as a group, Pinkowski addressed some of the questions he’d heard through the grapevine. He told the group that there would not be an influx of new assistant coaches, citing the experience and quality of the staff already in place.
And although he was known for a variety of offensive approaches the past decade-plus directing Aycock teams, he didn’t foresee a tremendous amount of change from 2012 to 2013.
“We were pretty good at what we did last year, right?” Pinkowski rhetorically asked the crowd. “And we’ve got a lot of guys back from that bunch, right? So chances are we’ll do some similar things.”
A big point of emphasis Pinkowski has on the player questionnaire is what they liked and didn’t like about practice last season. It’s a question he’s asked his teams after each season the past few years.
“If they all don’t like something we’re doing in practice that we as coaches see as important, that can become a teachable moment,” Pinkowski said. “That’s the opportunity for us to explain that doing this drill helps us do this in a game better as a team.”
As a former Clayton assistant coach from 1985 until 1996, Pinkowski is familiar with the tradition of Comet football. He watched film from last season to see how much things had changed over the past few seasons and came away amazed by Clayton’s physical play. But he wanted some verification that he just wasn’t seeing things through Comet blue-colored eyes so he looked for other opinions.
“I had my former coaches at Aycock look at some film I put together from Clayton last season,” Pinkowski said. “Just wanted to see what they saw. They raved about it. It was the most physical high school football team they’d seen in years.
“The thing I remember about Clayton teams on the field is the physicality. That’s still here and that really excites me.”
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