Coach Daniel Barker Entering 4th year as Head Coach at West Carter High School, Olive Hill, KY
1- First congrats on the big season last year. 10-2 with both losses coming against to really good teams. What must you and the staff do to keep things going as well as they did in 2020?
Answer: We have had a special group of kids that really established the standard of how we play and how we prepare. We’re a no excuses program, and our expectations don’t change. Our upcoming seniors have played a lot of football, with this being the 4th year starting or playing serious varsity minutes for a bunch of them. I think as coaches and players going forward we know how hard it is to be successful but we know the reward of hard work, dedication, and doing our jobs. I think those kids also realize how hard we’ve had to work to get to where we went last year.
We still haven’t reached the goal we set 3 years ago which is to bring a state championship to Olive Hill so we all know we have work to do. I think a lot of our kids are motivated to do their part to build the program and show how well they can play. When you graduate as good a class as we did, there are always hungry young kids that try to prove they belong. Our kids expect to win now, but they know it’s not an easy process.
2-As a fan I love the Thursday night game or the Saturday afternoon game. As a coach what are your thoughts on games being played then?
Before this year I hated them. Covid kind of changed that and now I’m just thankful to play any day. We had one Saturday game this year and it was one of the best atmospheres we played in. You get fans from all over the area there when you’re the only game in town, so it’s a neat experience for the kids.
3-Build off of the previous question. In talking to fans all over the place most seem to think if their league would hold a rivalry game on a Thursday or Saturday making it like a feature game, that the crowds would be even larger. Agree or disagree?
I think it definitely could. Not a huge fan of Thursday games because of school on Friday, but I do think Rivalry games on Saturday and being the only game that night in the area would make for a good environment for the kids. Not sure if our or East Carter’s stadiums could hold many more fans than we already do for our games though.
4- Numbers seem to be down all over the country as far as football goes. What do you think can reverse this trend?
I think we really have to be intentional with what we do at the youth levels. In general, I think kids at those ages need to end the season by wishing for more games rather than being glad it’s over. I think our Youth League and MS do a really nice job of this.
At the high school level, I think it’s important for all coaches to encourage kids to play sports. We can’t get in the mindset that our sport is more important. Ultimately, I hope all of our kids play winter and spring sports. Specialization is killing participation in many sports.
5- How important is it for all of the younger teams in the system to run the same offense and defense as the varsity?
I’m more interested in the fundamentals they’re being taught at those ages. I want them to run offenses and defenses that will teach them skills to be successful for us. But I don’t mandate that they run what we run. If they have good skill development, they can learn what we do fairly quickly.
6-If you had the talent what offense and defense would you run?
We run pretty much what I like to run. We’re a multiple defense built on 1 gap football. We pattern match in most of our coverages. Generally, we’re a simple but adaptable defense.
Offensively we’ve kind of moved to more of a modern pro-style offense from where we have spread a few years ago. We use 1-2 TE, motion, play action, and RPO off downhill runs. I don’t call our offense (Coach Thomas Flannery does) but we run the style of offense I prefer. I don’t tell him what to run, so I feel like philosophically we’ve kind of come to the same place with what we want to do when we have the ball. He calls a much better game than I would on the offensive side!
7- So many programs struggle with special teams, if you could not find a guy who could kick and or punt would you consider bringing in a girl to kick?
Absolutely. I’ve coached against a few girl kickers and they were all really talented. 2 of the better kickoff specialist I’ve seen in HS were girls.
8- If one of your star players is struggling a lot at one point do you take him out of the game?
Each kid is different. I think some kids that help with and some that would be even more detrimental with. In general, I’d hate to do that to a QB. But for most kids and most positions, pulling them, showing video and coaching them up, and sending them back in works. We’re fortunate to have some depth so our guys know they need to play well to play.
9- How many days a week do you guys lift during the off-season?
We lift four days per week in the offseason and 3 days per week in season.
10- Who is the one team in the state that you would love to get for a home and home game against?
Hard to pick one. I think we’d like to get our program to where we’re playing a traditional power from another part of the state in a competitive home and home. Got to keep working to get there!