Staff photo: Manny Fils Newton's new head football Terrance Banks speaks more indepth with parents after a parent/players meeting on Tuesday.
COVINGTON -- When newly hired Rams football coach Terrance Banks met with parents, players and booster club members at Newton's gym on Tuesday, he told them what he expects to do with this program -- make them champions.
However, Banks does not necessarily equate champions to raising a trophy at the end after the final horn has sounded. Banks has bigger plans than that for this program and its players.
"A championship program means this: Thirty-two teams make the playoffs but only one is going to win," Banks said. "I want to make football a life where kids are going to school and being great men. I want to be a consistent playoff contender. If we can consistently make the playoffs, one year we're going to have that team. I believe this is my dream job. I'm 100 percent committed to what we're doing. I want to be 100 percent committed to these boys."
Even though this is his first head coaching position, Banks has vast experience in coaching and has been under a lot of successful coaches where he's learned what it takes. After taking his first coaching position at Dunwoody, Banks went to his alma mater, Lakeside High School in Atlanta, where he once played wide receiver. As a sophomore, Banks played for a state championship but lost in the finals 41-9 to Thomas County Central.
"I was the assistant head coach (of Lakeside) at 27. At 27, you have no idea," Banks said. "Being a head coach is like being a CEO of a business. It's not my job to worry about the scheme once I have the right people in place. My job is to make sure every child is being successful. The main thing I learned is that I have to get the kids to play hard, (and to) implement systems that will last because systems and hard work will take care of everything else we need to do."
After leaving Lakeside, Banks went on to Berkmar before traveling to Duluth where he has been for the past three years. Before getting to Duluth, the Wildcats were coming off a three-season record of 2-28. During the time Banks was there the Wildcats had a 4-6 record each year.
"I know the record doesn't say much, 4-6 for three years, but that's more wins than they've had in 10 years. We also put 30 kids in (college)," Banks said. "I learned a lot about leadership. We ended up beating teams that made the playoffs. That region is tough. If you look at the fact that three of the final eight teams were from our region, that shows you what we went through. I learned so much about being a head coach.
"Berkmar had one win when I got there, then three the next year. I know what it takes to turn it around. But this isn't a turnaround job; this is a successful program. Here, it's about the next level."
Even though Banks has been a defensive coach, his true love is the offense. That is why he plans on calling the offensive plays as the Rams run out of a college-style spread offense.
"Being on offense is more of a chess match to me. Being able to move the ball downfield is much more of a mathematical game. I know colleges run the spread and I'm not trying emulate college. What I know about it is that it's a numbers game," Banks, who is a math teacher, said. "What the other team does tells you what to do. I'm going to spread them out so the defense has a choice; either join us spreading out which opens up other things."
Even though Banks has to finish out the school year at Duluth, he has already met with Newton quarterbacks to look at film and talk about plans for the future. He also said that spring practice may not be the typical practice the players are used to because of his obligations. However, that does not mean that he does not plan on having the players ready before their first game against Eastside.
"Beating Eastside is important; that's a rivalry," Banks said. "I'm giving them the week of Memorial Day off to decompress. Then the first Monday in June, June 3, I'm going to be here at 7. The lights are going on in the weight room, they're going to come in and I'm going to lock those doors and tell them that this is where their championship is won. It won't be won on the field in August. You're either going to be bigger, faster, stronger and well-conditioned or you're going to die in this race. So every day you have to get up and be doing something. We're going to be running from that day forward."