To me, it’s all about coming together as a team. Not just 11 guys on the field; I'm talking about the 70 or the 85 or however many kids that we have. —Clearfield High football coach Andre Dyson
Andre Dyson is going to be a great football coach.
Just listening to the former Clearfield High, University of Utah and National Football League standout talk passionately about his approach to the game and what it means to him, it’s enough to make even a morbidly obese, 60-something-year-old guy like myself wanna suit up, line up and hit somebody again.
That’s only gonna happen these days, thankfully, when I doze off while watching an NFL game on a Sunday afternoon and start dreaming about playing linebacker for the Steelers.
But I’m sure that when the first-year Clearfield High head coach talks to his players, they can’t help but get fired up about playing the game — and playing it with the right mindset.
Or, at least, they certainly should.
Dyson is taking over a once-proud CHS program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2004, but he is undaunted in his determination to help turn the Falcons’ team back into a winner again.
And he isn't gonna back down from anybody.
“Talent-wise, yeah, other teams might have more talent, but all you have to do is beat them that one night,” he said. “It's not basketball; you don't have to beat 'em best out of seven. You just have to beat them that one night, you just have to have a better night than them, and it’s possible. Anything is possible.
"I played on some teams that weren’t as talented, and I played on some teams that were really talented. But to me, when I played on the Seahawks, we didn't have that much talent; we had so much more talent when I played for the Titans. But the Seahawks, we were a team. We loved each other; we played for each other. We had fun with each other; we hung out with each other. And ultimately we made it to the biggest game (the Super Bowl).
"When I was in Tennessee, we were a team — kinda," said Dyson, who was a stellar defensive back in the NFL. "The DBs were close and some other guys were close, but we had a lot of guys that were after contracts and money, so there were some other little added agendas. And we made it to some AFC championship games, we just never made it past the hurdle when I was there."
Because they weren't the type of "team" they needed to be.
You’ll notice Dyson’s vocabulary doesn’t use the word “I” very often. Instead, it’s more often about “us,” “we” and “team.”
And his players would be wise to listen to what he has to say. After graduating from Clearfield in 1997, he played at the U. of U. from 1997-2001, then spent eight years in the NFL from 2001-08.
So this is a guy who's been there and done that, at the highest level possible. And he definitely knows what he's talking about.
“To me, it’s all about coming together as a team," Dyson said. "Not just 11 guys on the field; I'm talking about the 70 or the 85 or however many kids that we have. That last guy, his job is to just clap on the sideline, cheer everyone every time they come off the field, give high-fives, tell guys, 'Good job,' or tell a guy, 'Hey, don't worry about it.' His job is important.
"It boils down to all of us being on the same page, being there for each other. Win or lose, we're gonna step in the locker room knowing that we gave it our best shot, that we gave ourselves a chance to win. That's what I'm preaching.
"You're never ever gonna hear me say, 'I hope we win.' No, I don't hope anything," he said. "I believe we're gonna win. That's my mentality, I was like that when I was a player, that’s just how it is — I hate to lose more than I like to win. I can’t stand losing. Losing is just, I don’t even like to say the word, to be honest. I can't stand to lose. You're always like, 'I could've done this,' or, 'We should've done that.'
“Winning is a mentality, and I feel like I have a winning mentality. I always have. That’s what I want to teach these kids, and it’s a work in progress. It’s gonna take some time and, hopefully, it clicks on sooner than later."
Dyson says football is about a lot more than simply being the biggest, strongest and fastest athletes on the field. He says the mental aspect of the game is actually much more important than the physical aspect, and he says it's vital that players buy into what their coaches are trying to sell them.
“You have to believe — believe in the system, believe in what you're doing, believe in the coaches, believe in everything," he said. If there’s one ounce of doubt, it’s over.
"... If you have the right state of mind, you can really do a lot of great things. This game, it's 90 percent mental. They think it’s all about hitting and how much you can lift in the weight room. No, it’s not. It’s about how smart you are, how you know how to take angles, whether you understand what offenses are trying to do, what defenses are trying to do, understanding what your weaknesses are and what your strengths are. There’s a lot more that goes into it than, ‘Hey, I’m fast and I’m strong.’
"Yeah, but can you tackle? Can you catch? Can you run the right route? Can you catch it on third-and-2? Can you make the right play in a pressure situation? Can you come back from a bad play after you made a mistake, step up and say, 'My fault,' and make the next play? That’s what football is. Football is a roller-coaster ride, it’s ups and downs, and it’s a matter of who can stay on a nice even keel and not get too high and too low," Dyson said.Comment on this story
And despite his alma mater's struggles over the last decade, he isn't about to sell them short on their chance to be successful.
"The sky’s the limit, and anything is possible," Dyson said. "That’s what I’m trying to teach these guys — that anything is possible.
“Believe in yourself, and it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you believe in yourself."
And to hear him say it, you can't help but ... believe.