BIGGERSVILLE — Turning any team into a winner is similar to baking a cake.
People need the right ingredients mixed together well, placed in the oven and baked for a specified period of time then removed to settle and cool for consumption.
Building a successful high school football program is extremely similar. Gather the necessary ingredients (players), mix well together (make sure everyone is on the same page, learning the system, practicing hard and working it out on the field as well as in the weight room) place in the oven and bake (success doesn’t happen overnight so it’ll take various amounts of time) and finally removing the cake and allowing it to settle (just like a well-tuned football team ready to take on all challengers once they are well-baked).
The challenge is greater when building a program with very little history of high level success on the field.
Which brings the subject of the story.
When current Biggersville head coach Stan Platt took the reigns of the BHS program five years ago, the Lions had been a fair program as well as years where fans kept counting down the days until basketball season. No dis-respect intended, but that was the case in 2016.
In comes Platt, an older, more seasoned and experienced coach who had been down this road before and knew what it would take to mold the Lions into a consistent winner.
Before he came along, Biggersville had never won a division title in the entire history of the football program. They had also never beaten Okolona, their old division nemesis. Before Platt took over, Biggersville had not made the playoffs in almost 30 years. Over the past four seasons, including their 7-0 start in 2020, the Lions have posted an overall record of 37-8 which includes a 23-5 slate inside Division 1-1A.
Prior to Platt’s arrival, Biggersville had compiled an overall record of 7-27 over the prior three seasons.
“When I got here I didn’t even know I would be the head coach,” said Platt. “I took over in the summer prior to the 2016 season and we only had eight players on the field. But (head basketball coach) Cliff (Little), (athletic director/head baseball coach) Daniel (Rowsey) and (Principal) Pete (Seago) were there to support me. Cliff had some of his players try out for the football team and it just grew from there. Our Middle School won three out of four Tri-County championships and went undefeated this year. That has been a huge part of us being where we are now.
During Platt’s tenure Biggersville captured their first league title in 2019 and are well on their way to making it two division championships in a row. That has never happened in the history of the BHS football.
Another milestone happened just this season when the Lions defeated Smithville for the first time since 1980. The Seminoles have long been a model for 1A gridiron success and victories against programs such as theirs is another step in baking that perfect cake and building a winning program that can sustain.
An often overlooked ingredient in constructing a winning high school team is the success of the middle school program. They’re often called ‘feeders’ as players make the move from seventh and eighth grade to junior varsity and then on to the varsity squad.
To that end Biggersville has a firm grip on the future as their middle school teams have won several Tri-County titles over the past few seasons along with a lot of games.
Success breeds success they say and the Lions are thriving due to that winners’ mentality.
Talent is another key ingredient in a program’s success and Biggersville has had their fair share of it at the highest level.
Players such as Quonn Crump-Mayes, Qua Davis, Quinton Knight, Goldman Butler, Te’lick Barnett, Zae Davis, John Garrett Overstreet, Jack and John Eaton, Ricky Rivera, Bryson Pollard, Di’Renzo Shields and Zach Ozbirn – just to name a few – have blended well together to form a team with chemistry, cohesiveness and the ability to work together thru the good and the bad to come out winners on the other side.
Platt will retire at the end of this school year, meaning fresh blood will take over a program set up to win now. Whomever that person is will benefit from the job the current coaching staff has done. The new coach, who could very well be on staff now, will inherit a squad that expects to win and has done a lot of it over the past four years.
“The main thing when talking about the success we’ve had here over the past five seasons is the buy-in,” said the Lions coach. “We’ve enjoyed a complete buy-in from the players, the coaching staff, the administration, the fan base and the community. Biggersville people love their football now and that has been a huge part of our success. Plus the coaches here work hard for little pay and long hours but they love the kids and the program has thrived because of it.”
“Plus, you can’t be successful without talent and we have been fortunate to have a lot of talented players who have learned how to win. When I retire this year, I expect this football program to maintain and remain successful and win more division titles and make more playoff appearances,” Platt said. “The program is on solid ground and I know whoever takes over will keep it going here.”
Platt still has unfinished business this season with his team expected to win the division and make a deep playoff run ... this time past the second round where their seasons have ended the past couple of years.
How big would it be for the Lions to actually win a state championship?
“Oh man, the very thought is just incredible,” Platt concluded. “Who would have thought just four years ago that would be a possibility? If we can do it would be huge and would definitely validate the Biggersville football program for the future.”
in other words, icing on the cake.