Every coach will agree that success breeds more success.
The arguments and differences of opinion may come about just how much previous success influences future results.
Shady Spring head football coach Vince Culicerto is convinced the playoff run his team orchestrated last season will pay big dividends for the 2022 edition of the Tigers.
“They saw us come out on top more than on the bottom and that our guys kept playing. A lot of those contests were comeback wins later in the game,’ Culicerto said. “It was a prefect example of why you keep playing the game until the clock runs out. That is a big plus for the bunch coming up. They got to see the playoffs and how that works. It sets the stage for them to try and do the same or even better this year.”
The Tigers rolled past Tug Valley in week one before dropping back-to-back games to playoff bound teams, Nicholas County and Independence the next two weeks.
Shady Spring rebounded with a win over rival Summers County to even its record, but then the Tigers went on a wild roller-coaster ride the rest of the way.
After playing the Bobcats on a Tuesday due scheduling adjustments resulting from Covid issues, the Tigers traveled to Westside the following Friday.
The quick turnaround showed in a two touchdown loss to the Renegades. However, when it was determined the following Tuesday that Westside unknowingly used some players that were ineligible, Shady was granted a forfeit win.
The Tigers were back in Wyoming County the following Friday for a battle with Wyoming East.
On a sloppy, rainy night, Shady Spring earned a hard fought win – literally at times – over the Warriors.
The down side of the win was that thevaltercations in the game left the Tigers with some key players suspended and unable to play the next game against Mingo Central.
The subsequent short-handed loss to the Miners put the Tigers in a must-win situation for the final three weeks of the season.
Shady Spring built an early lead and held on to defeat Class AAA Ripley to start the run, but the final two weeks were tough road contests at Liberty and PikeView.
The resilient Tigers would not be denied.
Trailing by 10 points in the final period at Glen Daniel, Shady roared back for a thrilling 29-26 win over the Raiders.
The deficit was even bigger at PikeView where Shady trailed 20-7 at the break.
Three touchdowns by Bryson Pinardo helped the Tigers explode for 33 second-half points and a 40-26 win.
“We wanted to go to the playoffs,” Pinardo said after the win. “The season started rough for us. Everybody kind of looked down on us. Throughout the school, throughout the community everybody was like ‘Are you guys really that good?’ So the rest of the year we wanted to prove to everybody that we could go to the playoffs and we are a playoff team.”
If the Tigers are going to build off of the 2021 season, it will have to do so with some youngsters up front.
“We can be pretty good this year. We will have some good skill kids that are veterans, so we feel like we will be good in that department,” Culicerto said. “We have a young bunch of lineman that we are excited about. A lot of (sophomores) on the line though. They are young, but getting physical. They will likely take some lumps this year. I have been around this long enough to know that, but we are really excited about them.”
While line development will be crucial for Shady, success will also be tied to how the team handles life on the road with three lengthy road trips on the docket.
Along with trips to Hinton and Summersville, the Tigers have games at Ripley, Naugatuck and on Miner Mountain in Matewan.
“It all depends on the competition and injuries. We have had our share of injuries the last couple of years. If we can stay out of that, our season will good,” Culicerto said.