When he begins reviewing components for a football team, Grant Reynolds looks for the hard-chargers and difference-makers.
The Boyd-Buchanan coach knows that players such as Malik Brewer, the Buccaneers' bulky two-way lineman, an elusive quarterback like Jim Cardwell and a hard-nosed runner along the lines of Rance Harden aren't going to come along every year.
He is therefore seeking the guys who work to make a difference on every play -- the savage, ravaging defenders who'll sprint from sideline to sideline with hopes of getting a piece of a ball carrier and the intelligent types who call blocking schemes and know before they open where the holes are likely to be.
And if Reynolds can get two for one as he did with center and defensive end Austin Bailey, it's all the better.
"He plays hard," Reynolds said of Bailey. "He doesn't mind sticking his nose in there on blocks, and he makes all of our offensive-line calls. He's intelligent -- good football smarts."
That Bailey is maybe 5-foot-10 after donning his cleats and possibly 220 pounds if he has an extra hot dog or two at lunch bothers Reynolds not the least.
"He's unselfish. His motor is always running," the coach said before resuming plans for the Bucs' Class 2A semifinal game Friday at Friendship Christian. "Austin knows just one speed and that's all out, and opponents have to consider him when they formulate game plans."
Bailey tried to explain his inexplicable flipping of the switch, that desire to stomp his adrenaline pedal from the opening whistle.
"I might not be the best player, but I am always going to give it all I've got -- 100 percent all the time," he said. "It's like I turn it on, even in practice. I don't know. It's like when I suit up I'm ready to go.
"The love for hitting keeps me going. I want to be in on every play, even if it's on the other side of the field. If I can get there just to slow somebody down, it helps the team. I just love to hit."
He's old-school enough to avoid pinning some modern or funky name on his hits. It's simple. You see the target and you try to take it down or out.
"You lay the wood to somebody," he said.
That doesn't apply just to defense. He makes his share of blocks offensively, although he sees offense as a secondary chance for contact.
Defense is where it's at, even if it's splitting a double-team and leaving the gravy for a teammate.
"It's fun to be the one that makes the tackle, but you do what's needed," he said. "If that's taking on two guys, you do it, and you don't really care as long as the job gets done. Winning's winning. We're a team and I can take that kind of sacrifice."
It's the Boyd-Buchanan way.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...