(PALM SPRINGS) – Accountability. Self-Control. Respect. Discipline. Great communication. Humility. Trust.

These are just a few of the requirements to earn your way onto the field with the three-time champion SoCal Coyotes. It’s a rite of passage that was expedited this fall for an entire class of players – with a startling young ‘Darkside Defense’ that often consists largely of rookies and second-year players. When injuries forced them into action after a stunning Week One upset loss to the San Diego Stallions, these ‘Young Guns’ answered the call.

Meet linebackers Will Hoglund, Jerimiah Spicer, Dorian Cannon, Dominic-Lowery Bowen, Cody Carhart, and Matt Arias – and cornerbacks Nick Gathrite and John Paiz. All are now contributing heavily in every Coyote defensive scheme and victory, and – no surprise – each of these Coyote ‘pups’ cut his teeth on special teams.

“They’ve overcome inexperience with a thirst to learn,” says Shane Helms, assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. “Our young guns are not only contributing on defense, but special teams, which is where trust has to start.”

If only the Coyotes just defined ‘trust’ by football ability, but not here. The Coyotes preach faith and communication, that you ‘can’t coach class,’ and demand character above all else – which means no trash talking, no chest-beating, just disciplined living and hard-nosed football. Halfway to the playoffs, “we don’t have the luxury of time,” says head coach J David Miller. “Growth as a man is non-negotiable. Either get on the bus, or get off the bus, but the bus has left the station.”

Coyote coaches require their veterans to ‘police the locker room.’ When the fur flies, incumbent veteran stars like LB Ryan Pervine, FS Anthony Spencer, DE Jake Sheffield and LB Cade Cowdin aren’t interested in excuses, egos or attitudes. Their reactions to nonsense are swift and severe. “Trust goes a long way here,” says Spencer, in the understatement of the year.

And it’s underscored on the field. “Our defense is designed for us to fly around at full speed – similar to special teams,” says Coach Helms. “But to be effective, you must have a good moral compass, act with maturity, understand the calls, the scheme, and be able to communicate and hold assignments. They each have to understand their role to be trusted on every defensive snap.”

The results so far? “That trust shrinks ‘lack of experience’ and strengthens the bonds between the players,” says Coach Helms. “It’s a blue-young guns 600 6.0collar, lunch-bucket locker room.”

With Saturday’s rematch against the 6-1 Stallions – for sole possession of first place – now just hours away, we asked these Young Guns for a mid-term progress report. Not just as players, but as men. We asked each of them the following questions –

-(a) What has been your biggest learning curve/accomplishment?
-(b) What do you hope to achieve in the Coyote program?
-(c) Which Coyote veteran has taught you the most?
-(d) What does it mean to ‘Defend the Shield’?
-(e) How has your faith inspired your leadership?

Their answers, some short, some long, offer tremendous insight into the future of the SoCal Coyotes – and the organization’s blueprint of “Building Champions, Building Men.”

LB WILL HOGLUND, 6-2, 215, First Year (17 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 TFLs)

a. My biggest learning curve has been communication. I come from a small town in Wisconsin where you don’t have to talk to people, you can just go about your routine day. I learned communication is key – not just in the game, but building a bond off the field. My communication helps unify and create understanding.

b. Football makes me happy. I love the game of football. It’s an outlet for me. And being a Coyote – there’s so much faith and love for one another. If I can turn what I love into how I make my living, I’m ready to take the next step up.

c. Anthony Spencer is who I’ve learned from the most. That man is all about the team. He makes it to practice, he’s always communicating, he plays wherever he’s needed and he never complains.

d. Defending the Shield means me and my pack of brothers standing side by side, willing to overcome any obstacle in our way, on and off the field.

e. My faith in God pushes me to be a better man. That strength inspires me to build better bonds – with my friends, family, and teammates, and ultimately is leading me to higher achievement.

LB JERIMIAH SPICER, 6-0, 240, Second Year (18 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 TFLs, 1 fumble recovery)

a. I hope to make progress in my life, and make my goals come true, and to make my mom and grandma happy.
b. I hope to pave the way for younger athletes, who will go through the same struggle.
c. (Last year) Veterans Devin Jones and Shaine Boyle really taught me how to be a PRO.
d. Defending the Shield means protecting our foundation, and paving a way for a younger, more talented group of guys.
e. My faith inspires me not to give up, to be a ‘soulja’.

LB CODY CARHART, 6-1, 205, First Year (10 tackles)

a. I’m learning to master the linebacker position that the Coyotes have blessed me with playing

b. I’m working hard to become a better team player with my brothers, as well as taking myself to the next level while having fun.

c. Rashad Roberts has taught me that playing football is all in the soul, and to play every game like it’s your last.

d. Defending the Shield to me is to play with pride and soul, as a family. We have to protect what we have and keep our team strong, ride together as a family, and don’t let anyone take it from us.

e. My faith is inspiring me to be a better man and strong father. I’m learning to take the lead with not only the team, but my own life. I need to fix any problem i have made. I refuse to make the same mistakes. My coaches have really taught me a lot about having faith, and they’ve inspired me to keep on pushing.

CB NICK GATHRITE, 5-9, 180, First Year (2 INT, nine tackles)

a. I’ve learned how important team chemistry is – and how much of a difference it makes within a team.

b. I’m trying to improve as a football player, while helping my team win each and every game.

c. Anthony Spencer has taught me the most. He’s demanded that I accept responsibility, and there is no room for excuses, only for improvement

d. Defending the Shield means taking pride in doing things the right way the first time – while getting the job done with the team in mind, rather than just be an individual.

e. I believe that the best way to lead is by example. If I hold myself accountable to a higher standard, others will follow, and do the same.

LB DORIAN CANNON, 6-1, 240, First Year (10 tackles)

a. Dedication.
b. Further my football skills.
c. Jake Sheffield.
d. Defend the Shield means nobody is taking this from us without a fight.
e. I’m following God and doing what I think He would have me do.

LB MATT ARIAS 6-0, 190, First Year (2 sacks)

a. My biggest learning curve is making the transition to nickel back. I’m working through some injuries to get back out on the field. This is a great family of guys.

b. I hope to grow not only as a player but as a man. I’m learning to overcome adversity.

c. Anthony Spencer and Ridge Turner. They’ve taught me everything about the ‘Darkside Defense.’

d. ‘Defend the Shield’ to me means giving it my all on the field, and off the field, representing the team in the most appropriate way. A wise man once said, “You have to build your brand, and protect it too.” 

e. It’s inspiring me to lead by example – and swallow my pride.

LB DOMINIC LOWERY-BOWEN, 5-10, 200, Second Year (10 tackles)

a. I have learned that you should always have confidence. On and off the field, we’re constantly being watched. No matter where you are, you have to stand and be an example not only for what you love, but for yourself.

b. I’m hoping to continue to be an example to my siblings. I joined the military (Air Force E-4 Senior Airman) to be an example and be a hero. I love this game and I want my siblings to look up to me and be proud that I can play and possibly move even further in football.

c. I look up to Ridge Turner and James Calhoun. They help me with all the little techniques I’m missing.
d. Defending the Shield is more than football. I look at the bigger picture – defending myself, and loved ones. You should always do what you love, but have a reason behind it. That gives you the passion to do what is right, to stand and protect.

e. I grew up a God-fearing man. I know that all things can be done through God. He has the power to wake you up, and He has the power to take life. I know what I need to do to ensure my salvation. After the passing of my father this year, I really took a step back to realize that in life, you shouldn’t take anything for granted. Cherish the small things.

CB JOHN MICHAEL PAIZ, 6-0, 180, Second Year (17 tackles)

a. My biggest learning curve is staying mentally humble. My biggest accomplishment is being a no-college walk-on in this group, and learning the details and mechanics of the game.

b. I’ve become an all-around better person then I used to be. I’m not the same hard-headed teen. I’ve learned the true definition of the words ‘respect’ and ‘hope.’

c. The Coyote veteran I’ve learned the most from, without a doubt, is Ryan Pervine. He’s taught me how to complement others, to be compliant, but still be able to express my dislikes, my personality, and communicate when I’m uncomfortable. He always tells me, ‘Don’t be a stiff bro, get your swag about you, be comfortable.’ He makes me comfortable. He’s convinced me I can play at this level.

d. To me, Faith Family and Football is just that. FAITH means be actively involved with our Father God, not only verbally, but also spiritually. God has great things in store for all of His children, but it’s also up to us to listen, and follow the path He has laid for us. FAMILY means honor thy mother and thy father – give them the respect they so gratefully deserve. Give them your ears. Listen, and obey. FOOTBALL takes care of itself. Coach Miller says, ‘get the first two right, and football will take care of itself – do your job first and most importantly, have fun.’ 

e. My faith has inspired me to become a leader. I get to see and interact with all of the positive role models I now have in my life. I see, and understand, and realize – what a huge impact they have had on me, both mentally and physically. I love the changes I’ve made in my life because of those role models. I’m just simply trying to return the abundant effort. I want to turn negative people into positive people, give others the hope I’ve that found, and help others to trust God, believe in themselves, and make a difference with their lives, too.

Load More Related Articles
Load More By admin
Load More In Coyote Spotlight
Comments are closed.

Check Also


(INDIO) – With desert temperatures sizzling Sunday at 110 degrees, All-American rookie qua…