Philpott: “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish”

Published 9:40 am Friday, September 16, 2016

Tyler Philpott

Tyler Philpott

Polk coach looks forward to game against East Henderson Eagles tonight

Tyler Philpott hopes the lessons he learned as part of the turnaround of Western Carolina’s football program can help serve as inspiration for Polk County’s current football squad.

He’s primarily just happy to have the opportunity to help share that knowledge with the Wolverines.

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When Philpott graduated earlier this year from Western, he hoped to find a teaching position that would also allow him to continue being involved with football as a coach. That chance came from perhaps the best source imaginable, his high school alma mater, with Philpott joining Polk County High School’s faculty in the school’s Career and Technical Education Department.

Thus Philpott will be on the sidelines tonight when Polk County travels to East Henderson for its final non-conference game of the season, facing the Eagles at 7:30 p.m.

An offensive lineman at Western, Philpott is helping coach Polk County’s defensive line this season.

“I’m enjoying it a lot,” Philpott said. “I’m seeing the game from a whole new perspective and learning a lot.

“I’m very happy about getting the chance to come back to Polk. I see Polk County as such a positive place, and to be able to get the chance to come back and work with the team and hopefully bring a conference championship back means a lot to me. I hope I can help bring Polk County back to what we had when I played.”

In Philpott’s first two seasons at Western, the Catamounts won a combined three games, continuing a long run of losing seasons. But a new coaching staff and a determination on the part of the program’s veterans helped bring about a renaissance. Western finished 7-4 in each of Philpott’s final two seasons, creeping into the conversation for a Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth.

A mainstay on Western’s offensive line in his final three seasons, Philpott was front and center for that turnaround. That experience had proved useful this week as Polk County looks to rebound from its 1-3 start.

“A lot of guys have come up to me, especially the seniors, to ask what they should do and how we handled similar situations,” Philpott said. “I’m trying to give them some insights, some personal stories, about the struggles we went through at Western Carolina.

“The main thing I want them to know is that four games doesn’t make or break a season. We’ve still got conference play ahead. That’s what we talked about at Western, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We need to focus on our conference schedule and do well there and everything is going to work out.”

Philpott has also drawn on his background as an offensive lineman to give Polk County’s defensive front some insight into what opponents are thinking.

“Playing offensive line and playing at the next level gives me a different perspective,” Philpott said. “Knowing what offensive lineman are looking for, I’m trying to give (Wolverine defenders) an inside look at what to do to counter what the offensive line is expecting.”

A familiar presence around Polk County even while at Western, returning to campus and the football program has also made for a unique transition for Philpott as he works with players he has known for many years.

“Coming back to coach has been an interesting experience,” he laughed. “I’ve known some of the players for a long time, especially the seniors like Storm (Wheeler), Donivan (Twitty) and Landon (White). It’s nice to know that I can come in and joke with them.

“But when it’s time to get serious, they know I mean business.”

– article submitted by