Victoria Advocate: Memorial coach knows honeymoon period is over

Posted: May 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

Mickey Finley has been through almost everything during his 31 seasons as a head football coach.

He’s been to state championship games and has coached in every classification at 10 schools throughout Texas.

Now, entering his second season at Memorial, Finley is in the process of trying to turn around a program that has won three games in the past two seasons. The Vipers have not made the playoffs since 2005, and Finley knows from experience communities start to get restless.

“When you have been doing it as long as I have you learn that your job is on the line every year,” Finley said. “Pressure doesn’t affect me very much. It’s something I’ve become used to, so it doesn’t bother me. I’m going to keep coaching the same way as I’ve always done.”

Finley’s way has often resulted in success. He led Cuero to the Class 3A state final in 1993 and 1998. Finley also guided Schulenburg to an 11-1 record and a trip to the area round of the Class 2A playoffs in 2006, the year before he moved to Victoria.

Finley has been the head coach at Klondike, Comanche, Iraan, Cuero, Arlington, Cleburne and Schulenburg during his career.

Lessons have been learned at each stop, including how to deal with criticism.

“You always have to sit and listen to people talking bad about what you’re doing,” said Mickey’s son Clint, who played for his father at Cuero and is the Vipers’ defensive coordinator. “But you grow used to it and have thick skin. You never like it, but I know it doesn’t bother him like it used to.”

The pressures of winning have not been lost on the players. They know it is their turn to show what they’ve learned.

“We’re the ones playing and the only ones on the field,” senior fullback Alex Barbosa said. “We have to step up and do things the right way. They have taught us how to play, now it’s up to us to go out there and do it.”

The head coach of any football team will be a lightning rod, attracting praise and negative attention.

Experience has taught Finley that talent and execution are the biggest factors in determining the outcome of games.

“I really hope we’ve put together a good football team,” Finley said. “Not for me, but for the sake of the kids. They’ve worked so hard to get better. They deserve to feel the success that they’ve been working for.”

Memorial has worked throughout the offseason to improve, and has expanded its multiple-option offense. The Vipers will run a no-huddle offense this season, a move Finley hopes will play to their strengths.

Finley also expects to see improvement from the defense.

“Our kids are more familiar with the program and what we’re trying to get accomplished,” Finley said. “We’re so much stronger than last year and can play a base-type defense. I felt last year we had to do a lot more stunts that got us in some trouble. I think we can stand toe-to-toe and win those battles this year.”

The pressure to make the playoffs may not permeate the locker room, but the Vipers don’t want to think about going 2-8 again.

“The whole town is looking for us to be a winning team,” junior defensive lineman Preston Turner said. “It’s a lot of pressure for us, but we’ve been working really hard since the last game we played. It’s up to us as players on how this season is going to go.”

Originally published August 29, 2008

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