You've heard the saying, defense wins championships.
But for one of our mountain top ten teams, a coach takes that saying to heart.
Rockcastle county Defensive Coordinator Tony Saylor has helped the Rockets earn respect in the state with his bright mind, and his ability to push his kids to play as hard as they can.
If there is one constant with Rockcastle County Football, it's passion and heart for the game. Tony Saylor has brought that mentality to the Rocket's program.
In 1985, he became the defensive coordinator, the title he holds today.
Saylor is described as a tireless worker, who begins preparation on Rock's next opponent immediately, studying film on Saturday and preps on Sunday.
“We have a standard here that you had to accept if you were going to play defense at Rockcastle County high school, you were going to put in a lot of extra time,” Saylor says. “It gives us I feel like a full day ahead of most of our opponents because very few teams I think spend two days on the weekend out here.”
But the one thing Saylor says he hangs his hat on is not picking the right call on defense in the fourth quarter, it's the ability to motivate the Rockets.
“The most competitive people, desire to compete in the most competitive games. A winner has something in him where there's nothing to explain, from the soles of his feet, to the top of his head.”
“They will always tell me the same thing,” Saylor says. “Coach, you really motivated me to play hard or to be somebody. That's the ultimate goal anyway is to try to make these young men believe they can do what they decide they want to hang their hat on whatever career that they may choose.”
One man who has known Saylor for 27 years is former Rockcastle County Coach, Tom Larkey. He says Saylor is much more than coach.
“He teaches the kids the game of football,” Larkey says. “He teaches them the game of life. And I really have respected him. He's been so faithful to me while I was there, and loyal to me and I’ll never forget him and we're still friends and always will be the rest of our lives.”
Rockcastle Players and coaches can only think of one word that sums up Saylor.
“Respect,” Rockcastle Co. Head Coach Scott Parkey says. “It's what all the football coaches want to have because if you have that respect from players, even your peers, people have to prepare for that a little bit differently. People look at you differently, and also your players are going to work harder for you if you have that and that's what he encompasses with his life.”
“He’s like another parent,” Steven Thomason says. “(He’s) a strict one. He makes sure we run everything the right way and go over it until we get it right no matter how long we're up here.”
And even though he's been coaching for almost three decades, he has no plans of hanging his headset up any time soon.
“As long as my gut tells me I’m motivated and ready to go, I’ll be here,” Saylor says.