Lubbock High School has multiple football state championships under its belt. Not many would know that, since the last titles they hoisted were back in 1951 and '52. That's also the last time the Westerners have made the playoffs in back to back years.
LHS isn't remotely the program they were in the '30s, 40's and 50's, but I guess you could say that about every program in the state.
Head Coach Jason Strunk got the program to the playoffs last year for the first time since 1975, and the school finally has a shred of confidence in their team. The District realignment that moved the school down to 4A has undoubtedly helped the team take steps forward, but Coach Strunk and this staff aren't aiming for just good enough.
Coach Strunk talked about changing the mentality at Lubbock High:
"We tell our kids everything starts with attitude - attitude and mental toughness. You know if you have a good attitude and you're mentally tough, you're going to win football games. That's the bottom line. Believe in what you're doing and have confidence, that's what we tell these kids every day, and you can start seeing the confidence level building when the wins come. We changed the whole mind set here."
Attitude is something that the program has been missing for some time. Athletic programs make a difference in where parents send their children to school, and Lubbock High hasn't been an attractive venue for most sports. Football would be at the top of that list.
Monterey Head Football Coach Todd Pearson praised Coach Strunk for the obvious change in program mentality:
"That's a credit to Coach Strunk and his staff and his kids for getting after it and believing that they were going to get the job done. They are going to be in the thick of things as long as he's there. I think he's established a good situation at Lubbock High and I think those kids believe they are going to win. Once you get kids to buy what you're selling then you're in good shape."
As the Westerners exit the locker room onto Chapman Field, they have a sign that plainly says "attitude." If the players enter the practice field with the right mind set, than the coaching staff believes they can make champions out of the group that is there.
Strunk talked about what the program means to the players:
"To these guys, it means everything. It's what we do. We play football for the black and gold. One helmet, one team, one vision. That's our thing, that's what we say. Football here is important and these kids love it. We like coaching them and I think they like being here. They will do anything for us, so I think that's all that matters right there."
Lubbock High is still a long way from being the best in their district, but Coach Strunk has got the ball rolling and something looks different about this group. If he can change the mentality, he may just rejuvenate this program.
Lubbock High will open the season at home with Canyon High School Aug. 30.
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