Dalton Norris and his fellow football players waited eagerly to hear from their new coach, Larry Cox, at Talawanda Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night.
Cox comes to Talawanda after 21 years of coaching football at Lakota West High School. After Talawanda’s 2-8 record last season, his task is to rebuild the team.
The new coach met with current and prospective players and their parents at “Meet the Coach” night on Wednesday to present his goals and vision for Talawanda football.
“He’s wanting to build a winning culture, and that’s something that hasn’t really happened since 2014,” said Norris, a middle linebacker in his junior year.
Cox says that winning culture starts in the weight room.
“If you want to be a beast [in weight-lifting], this is what you’ve got to do,” said Cox.
Last season, Talawanda faced setbacks as 12 players suffered season-ending injuries, a major reason Cox is making strength-training and injury-prevention a priority.
“I think it’s a matter of coordinated efforts with myself and the training staff here to make sure that we can do prehab exercises that might prevent injuries,” said Cox. “When there are injuries, make sure they’re fully recovered and we fully rehabilitate those injuries.”
Another focus of the new coach is increased attendance at games.
“This time next year, this place will be standing room only,” Cox told the audience.
Cox’s goal is to fill a freshman team of 25 players and a varsity team of 70 players, an increase from last season when the total number of players was 61.
Cox has already made an impact on some of the players, who say he’s increased their desire to play football.
“He is amazing with the contacts that he brings with him, and just the whole ability to instill work ethic and really give the kids a better picture of the real world,” said Bonnie Norris, Dalton’s mother.
According to Dalton Norris, Cox has worked toward increasing interest in signing up for the team by spending time in the cafeteria and talking with students.
Norris plans to play college football after graduation. For now, his focus for his senior season is redemption.
“Being 2-8, we’re going to be on a revenge tour, so every team we play is just another stop on that tour,” said Norris.