By. Cuyler Meade / Photo: azcentral
Few coaches have had the kind of sustained success this decade that James Carter had at Sunrise Mountain. After going 5-6 his first season with the team (following four straight seasons of three or fewer wins), Carter never had another losing season, accumulating 47 wins in six years.
But now it’s time for a new challenge. Carter takes over at Millennium, a school where, much like when he took the job at Sunrise Mountain in 2010, there hasn’t been much recent success.
Carter, however, sees potential.
“From watching film last year, they were young, so I think with my style of coaching, and with the coaches that I hired, I think that we can turn the thing around.” Carter told Sports360AZ.com “There’s a lot of returning players. It’s similar to when I went to Sunrise, they had some players who were young, and those kids having the experience will help make the team better than if it was all seniors leaving.”
It may take time to get a big school like Millennium moving in the right direction, and Carter has a big challenge in front of him with a Division I school facing off against tough competition.
“Obviously Division I in Arizona is pretty good, so we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Carter said. “Good teams, East-side schools that have their football class, weight training class, which we’re trying to implement here. That competition, bigger schools, we’re kind of on the low-end of the spectrum with 2200 kids. So we’re going to have to be in good shape and going to have to be well coached and we’re not able to make mistakes.”
But success in year one for Carter isn’t necessarily measured by wins and losses.
“Kids playing hard, playing fast, and focusing on the positives,” Carter said. “Our philosophy here is you’re going to work hard, and we’re going to do things fast. I think getting to know the kids as well. Once you get to know kids they tend to play harder for you. The recipe for success, I think, is learning about the kids, and caring about the kids, and then football.”
Carter said a huge focus for him is character. He takes time one day a week to focus entirely on the concept of, as he says, how to be men.
“Every Wednesday we do character building, talking nothing about football, just about life, and how to be good men of character. Having integrity, playing like a team, doing things for each other. Building camaraderie that way in team meetings where you’re not talking about football but talking about each other in positive ways.”
On the field, while lots of coaches say they want to play up-tempo football these days, Carter brings with him style that goes beyond tempo. He says he stole the philosophy from Oregon.
“Fast, hard finish is our motto,” Carter said. “There’s no walking around on the field. We’re an attack style offense, defense and special teams. We’re going to lift like that, we run like that and we practice like that.”
But more important than that, said Carter, is getting to know the kids on the team.
“I care about kids. That’s why I coach.” Carter said.
“They’re getting to know me. We’ve had a few camps already. So by the end of the summer, they’ll really know me, so we’ll see how it goes. I think the kids here are good kids, they’re excited, my coaching staff is excited. We’ve got a tough schedule so we’ll find out right away.