Bill Hilbig Express-News Staff Writer
Publication: San Antonio Express-News
Date: December 22, 1991
For the second time in three years, David Visentine has been named the Express-News’ Greater San Antonio Coach of the Year. But don’t expect the leader of the Marshall Rams to keep the award to himself. “I’m not the one who deserves this,” Visentine said. “This is one that should be given to my assistants. Really and truly, they are the ones who deserve this. “You guys really should change the name of this award to the ‘Coaching Staff of the Year’ because if it weren’t for my staff, we wouldn’t have gone as far as we did (in the playoffs). I mean that. They are the ones who truly deserve this.”
Visentine also won the honor in 1989 after leading the Rams to a 9-2 record and their first playoff appearance since 1983. He captured the award this time because of Marshall’s 13-3 record and march to the regular Class 5A state finals. This season marked the culmination of a three-year run in the playoffs for Visentine and the Rams. The 1989 team won the school’s first outright district title before losing to Harlingen in the area round of the playoffs. Last year’s team advanced two more rounds, falling to Judson in the quarterfinals. “Those two teams sort of laid the groundwork for all the good things that have happened to us this year,” Visentine said. “The ’89 team, in particular, because it was the one that put us on the winning track. Last year’s team then picked up on that and carried our short-lived winning tradition even further in the playoffs.”
Although the last three years have been quite successful, success hasn’t always come easily for Visentine and the Rams. Visentine had a 6-12-2 record in his first two years at Marshall (1987 and ’88), convincing him some alterations were in order. “Any time you don’t achieve your expectations you should look for reasons why,” Visentine said. “As part of our coaching philosophy we try to find ways to achieve our goals. “After we finished 2-8 in 1988, we decided changes were needed. We had spent some time with the Judson coaching staff, so we decided to emulate Judson. Not necessarily what they do on the field, but what they do off the field. “Since then, we have had each of our players sit down and write out their goals for the upcoming season,” Visentine said. “We have also done some other things like make some changes in our off-season weight program and things like that. Most of all, we just tried to make the whole experience fun for the kids.”
Although this year’s squad advanced to the state title game, it wasn’t clear sailing all the way. The Rams started the season No. 1 in the Express-News’ Greater San Antonio poll, and held the top ranking until losing to Southwest (6-3) in their eighth game. They rebounded with a 22-0 victory over defending 28-5A champion Clark the following week, but lost to Taft in the regular-season finale, 38-14. Marshall also had to overcome the loss of running back Anthony Holmes, who missed the last four regular-season games with a thigh injury.
The Rams also played the Jay and Southwest games without defensive backs Todd Siebert, Mark Futschik and Will Flowers, who were suspended by Visentine for two games because of disciplinary reasons. “Everything around us was so negative during that time that we had to find something positive,” Visentine said. “So, we took a page from Lou Holtz’s bag of tricks. We had a team meeting and had each player stand up and say something positive about the team. We figured if we could emphasize the positive, then we could turn things around.”
The record shows Visentine and the Rams accomplished their turnaround.