Fixing Football- Part 2 (An Interview with Coach Rodney Taylor)


After decades of struggle, the Menchville football team seems to finally be trending in the right direction. After a solid 2-3 start to the season, Menchville is in the thick of playoff contention, and who better to talk to about the team’s hot start than first year Football Coach Rodney Taylor.

Before the football talk began though, Coach Taylor shared what he wanted the Monarch students to know about his life outside of football.

Other than golfing occasionally and spending time with family, most of Coach Taylor’s life is now dominated by football. As a first time head coach, with long time assistant coaching experience, Coach Taylor described the benefits of his assistant coaching tenure. “I think [my assistant coaching experience] has prepared me very well. A lot of times people want to jump to the head of things, and they don’t prepare themselves appropriately and accurately. So, you have to take your time when you’re in an assistant position and learn everything you can before you want to take on a project, or a team of your own. You want to make sure you know all the ins and outs. Not just on the football field, but you want to know how to interact and relate with your players, your parents… the school personnel and administration… All those years over at Heritage, those nine years really helped prepare me, and I think we always say, prior preparation prevents poor performances… so I believe those years of prep have definitely helped [Menchville] in regards to making sure that Monarch Nation is off to a pretty good start… [Menchville is] sitting at 2-3 right now, we’re number eight in the rankings… they only take the top eight, so right now we’re still in the hunt to make it to the playoffs. So, we’re alive and kicking, we feel good about where we are right now.”

As Coach Rodney Taylor alluded to, the Monarchs are off to a relatively strong start, much stronger than any other start in the past decades. With that in mind, Coach Taylor explained what keeps his team motivated to keep pushing to get better.

“… Right now, like I told them, the VHSL only takes eight teams into the playoffs out of this region and right now [Menchville is] sitting at number eight… one of my messages to the team is that you guys have trained and prepared to give yourselves an opportunity to play in postseason. And keeping them motivated; I know they see the carrot dangling in front of them because they want to get in to the playoffs, they want to have an opportunity to play for a championship, and the only way you can do that is to get yourselves in playoff position. So, right now, we know we still have to fight and keep grounded. We have to get ourselves a little sharper and a little more consistent in regards to playing four straight quarters of good Monarch Football… I think the fact that [Menchville] is sitting at number eight, [we’re] still sitting in playoff contention is pretty motivating…”

Coach Taylor also uses the fact that Hampton Roads has a recruiting star power as a motivator for his players. He said “…. college coaches will always say they can come to the seven-five-seven and obtain college prepared and gifted athletes, that they can plug in and play right then and there in their freshman year… for the most part the coaches are here, the players are here. The athletes here are definitely primetime players. Virginia is a place for lovers but seven-five-seven is definitely a place for student athletes… you can only do so much with sprints and weights and all that, so you definitely have to keep those guys inspired… so definitely using some of the Allen Iverson’s, the Michael Vick’s… the Joe Smith’s, Bruce Smith’s. It’s tons and tons of talent, so just let guys know that there’s a legacy going on [in Hampton Roads], and you guys can definitely be a part of that is definitely a motivating factor.”

With the football team in the playoff hunt, Coach Taylor talked about the amount of pressure he feels with the playoff contender Menchville football team.

“I think I put the pressure on us, I don’t know if those young men put that pressure on themselves… I put that carrot out there, I want us to stop worrying about just being competitive, I want us to be successful… I want us to always know that we have to compete… So right now we’re okay… we’re not out of it and I want those guys to understand that we keep fighting to the last second. So, right now we’re doing okay.”

Coach Taylor pointed out the team’s hard work ethic, attention to detail and good leadership as some of the main reasons for Menchville’s success, specifically shouting out Nathaniel Jones, Amon Taylor and Samuel Shepley as, “professionals”  who, “always display hard work”. “That stuff becomes contagious. Once you see one guy doing it and busting his tail… one turns to two, and two turns to three, and then you have a snowball effect… those guys attention to detail, and work ethic, that has definitely been an eye opener and definitely a welcome sight …”

As for what this team would be remembered for, Coach Taylor cited the work ethic again, but also added, “One thing I’m on about them all the time is their academics… If I can get you to pay attention and do what you’re supposed to do inside that classroom, there is a strong possibility you’ll do exactly what I ask you to do on that football field. They go hand in hand, you won’t find one without the other… You’ve got to be a student- athlete first, that lets me know that you have the ability to pay attention, follow directions and instructions, interact appropriately… you have that going, you’re probably going to be a pretty good football player. And guess what; Menchville has some darn good student athletes.”

The Monarch’s football team is currently in the playoff hunt and it should be an exciting last couple of weeks as Menchville tries of finally crack that top eight.