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Memorial track helps student-athletes maintain “Titan Tempo”

For several years, the Memorial football team has lived by “Titan Tempo.”

The high school’s trademark is playing at a fast pace with speedsters at almost every position.

At Memorial, the offseason for football means the vast majority of the team is on the track honing their craft in an attempt to separates them from others.

The history of the track program at Memorial is long.

“We have a lot of guys that play football that are state track guys,” head football coach Brian Morgan said. “A lot of people know we can run, but our guys really work at it. A lot of places tell their guys to run track, but we get our guys to buy into it. We have a coach that works well with us.”

Memorial track coach Darrell Granger also coaches the freshman football team.

Morgan said almost all of the players are required to run track in the spring.

“It is something that is understood,” Morgan said. “If you are going to play a skill position for use, you are going to find a way to get on the track and get faster or you are going to get passed up.”

Morgan pointed to Sunday’s matchup of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs as an example of the importance of speed.

“It doesn’t matter what level you are at,” Morgan said. “You look at the Super Bowl this weekend and you see guys like Tyreek Hill. That is some stuff you can’t teach. That is why we try to get the kids to understand the importance of track. We tell them that even if track is not their favorite sport, it will not make them worse. They will only get better.”

While speed cannot be taught, coaches focus on teaching student-athletes how to run properly and improve technique, which can result in faster players.

Morgan and Granger pointed to receiver Tony Brooks as an example of a football player who benefitted from track.

“(Brooks) stands out just because he was a guy that, before last track season, we didn’t have high expectations for just because he didn’t run well,” Morgan said of Brooks. “When you don’t run well, especially at receiver, you are not a threat. He went out, bought in and it paid off big time for him. There is someone like that every year.”

Brooks finished the regular season with seven touchdowns and 440 yards receiving. Brooks’ longest score came from 69 yards out.

“Tony has always been one of my favorites,” Granger said. “I was always trying to get him to come out and run track. He came out last season and ran three or four JV track meets and you could see the burst this year. Learning how to run benefitted Tony a great deal.”

Competing in track also helps players get times recorded to show recruiters. A fast track time can raise a player’s profile considerably. For instance, it is not uncommon to watch a college player’s draft stock rise after putting up a fast 40-yard dash at a pro day or NFL combine.

Both coaches pointed to Corey Dauphine as another football/track success.

“He didn’t blow up until he ran a 20.7 in the 200,” Granger said. “All of sudden, all of these football recruiters were knocking at the door in Port Arthur. It is a proven fact that if you play football, run track and have success, your options are going to grow tremendously. I think our kids understand the tradition that Port Arthur football and track go hand-in-hand.”