ALBANY — A conversation with Albany football coach Denney Faith is almost like traveling back in time — a time when the people we admired most were hard-working, humble and willing let their work speak for itself.
Faith isn’t going to volunteer that he’s now the fourth-winningest coach in Texas high school football history with 344 victories. He’s not going to advertise that he’s about to make his fifth career appearance in a state championship game. And you won’t hear that his teams have won 10 or more games in a season 17 times since he took the job at AHS in 1987.
His 19 district titles? A non-subject. His current string of 21 consecutive winning seasons? Don’t hold your breath.
The truth of the matter is, Faith probably isn’t even aware of these things until someone like me points them out. Nor does he care about them.
It’s not why he got into the business.
Faith is an uncomplicated man who became a coach because he wanted to have a positive impact on young lives. And he recognized football as an excellent avenue to do just that.
Does he want to win? You’d better believe he does.
I’ve seen him shed tears after a loss. If that isn’t a desire to win, what is? But with Faith, the pain he feels following a big loss reflects his understanding of how hard his players worked to get there.
He genuinely loves them and when they hurt, so does he.
The message at Albany isn’t that winning overrides everything else. It’s that if you work hard enough and consistently pursue the right path, winning and losing takes care of itself. It’s a valuable message one can take into a career, into a marriage or into life in general.
I don’t profess to know what will happen when Albany (13-2) meets perennial power Mart (15-0) for the Class 2A Division II state title Wednesday night in Arlington. But in the long run, Faith, who is 0-4 in state title games, has already won where it really matters.
His players understand full well how hard they had to work to get to this stage. And if they win, no one will appreciate it more. If they lose, they will pick up the pieces, get back to work knowing that life won’t always be fair.
That is the very essence of why we have high school athletics in the first place — amplified by a long-running history of success by Faith’s AHS teams, which have illustrated the value of hard work over and over again.
Years from now, whether they win this year’s state title it or not, the Albany players will credit Faith, his values, his work ethic and his discipline for having brought them to Texas high school football’s biggest stage. They in turn will pass those values on to their children, giving Faith a continued impact even after he’s retired.
So in the meantime, just let media guys like me gush about all the numbers. It gives us something to write about.
The Albany program has already where won it really counts — and has been for many years.
BIG COUNTRY PREPS COVERAGE FROM
THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS IN ARLINGTON:
(Game stories, opinion pieces, photo galleries and video)
Wednesday, Dec. 14, AT&T Stadium
CLASS 1A DIV. II STATE CHAMPIONSHIP (Brandon McAuliffe)
Benjamin (13-0) vs. Loraine (13-1): 11 a.m. Dec. 14, Arlington’s AT&T Stadium
CLASS 1A DIV. I STATE CHAMPIONSHIP (Brandon McAuliffe)
Westbrook (13-1) vs. Abbott (14-0): 2 p.m. Dec. 14, Arlington’s AT&T Stadium
CLASS 2A DIV. II STATE CHAMPIONSHIP (Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood)
Albany (13-2) vs. Mart (15-0): 7 p.m. Wednesday, Arlington’s AT&T Stadium
Thursday, Dec. 15, AT&T Stadium
CLASS 2A DIV. I STATE CHAMPIONSHIP (Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood)
Hawley (15-0) vs. Refugio (14-1): 11 a.m. Thursday, Arlington’s AT&T Stadium
CLASS 3A DIV. I STATE CHAMPIONSHIP (Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood)
Brock (11-4) vs. Franklin (15-0): 7 p.m. Thursday, Arlington’s AT&T Stadium