One reason the 2017 varsity football season has the potential to be something special for Paris is the affinity the coaching staff has for its' players.
Few know this fact better than assistant coach Garrett Thomas, who took the gridiron for the Coyotes as a high school student not that long ago. He's also the third member of head coach Gary Crusha's staff that we're profiling after touching base with Joseph Utterback and Darren Beaver.
Chapter Three: Garrett Thomas
While Thomas' role on the gridiron is to work with the wide receivers and defensive backs, the fact that Paris is his alma mater is more than evident throughout the school year. That's because he's also an assistant varsity baseball coach under Mike Fible with the Coyotes, as well as the head coach of the girls varsity basketball team.
"I coach because I enjoy being around athletics. Sports provide a venue for coaches to have a positive impact in their players lives," said Thomas. "My goal as a coach would be to help my players reach and exceed expectations on and off the field. As a coach the standards I try to model and instill in my players are having pride in what you do, the little things add up and consistently working hard."
The other part Thomas plays in the lives of the athletes he coaches is as a history teacher at the high school. This allowed him to create relationships with players that led to Paris racking up 96.2 rushing yards per game, 21 touchdowns and 17 sacks.
"Athletics provide the potential for students to learn many life lessons while growing up. The desire to win, especially in front of your family and community, forced the teams I played on to learn to work together under pressure," Thomas said. "I also learned that consistent hard work eventually pays off. On most successful high school teams underclassmen play a very minor role in varsity sports. The students that stick with it eventually work into a more significant role and develop into leaders."
When it comes to his work as a receivers coach with Paris, last year the team made 68 catches for 968 yards in 10 games according to www.maxpreps.com. That equated to an average of almost 90 yards a contest with a long of 64 yards and seven touchdowns.
"Playing multiple sports also had a large impact on my life while in high school. Each sport I played required me to learn to work with a new coach and teammates in a different environment," Thomas said. "During each season my impact on the our success varied so I was forced to take on many different roles. Each season also brought with it another opportunity to learn the necessary life lessons each student needs to be successful."
Thomas' other forte, pass defense, created interceptions by Brandon Williams, Tyler Staples, Breck Hancock and Adam Forrest, none of which were lost this offseason to graduation. The Coyotes also had 39 yards on interception returns, defended four passes and helped cause four fumbles and recover 10.