COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As many of the Heathwood Hall players left the field, Marcus Lattimore kept a few of his running backs and his quarterback to iron out a few wrinkles heading into Thursday's season opener against Oakbrook Prep.
"I guess I'm a little bit more meticulous since it is my first game ever," Lattimore admitted, "and I want it – selfishly, I want it to look perfect. I want it to be clean. I want it to have no mistakes but, at the end of the day, I know that's not going to happen. But having attention to detail with these guys, it makes the big things a lot easier to teach when you can teach the little things."
Teaching isn't something new to the former South Carolina Gamecocks running back. He's shared with many through speeches at various events the adversity he's faced and what it took for him to overcome it. Each time, he's spoken to crowds of fans and players alike, it's been his hope to instill a sense of hope and confidence. However, Lattimore plans to instill more than that in his Highlanders.
"You know, at the end of the day, a lot of these guys are not going to go play college or pro football," Lattimore said, "but they will live for about 65, 70 more years and they're going to have to be a father. They're going to have to be a husband, and they're going to have to have life lessons to get them through adversity that they face in their life and I've seen a lot of adversity. I've seen a lot of life even though I'm 25 years old and I've been able to navigate it well. So being here, being able to share some knowledge with these guys, that's why I'm here. I'm not here to be the football coach. I'm here to be a good role model for these kids."
Lattimore has been involved with the Heathwood Hall football program for the last two years, but this is his first year as the varsity team's football coach. While the players are excited about having one of the most talented players in Gamecock history leading the way for them on the sidelines, what they're learning from Lattimore.
"His experience has been phenomenal," said Highlanders senior wide receiver and safety Mac Hardy. "He's given us nuggets at every position, defensively, offensively, special teams, everything. I mean, he's put up a great coaching staff around him to help with that, but his experience, especially on the offensive side is fantastic."
The Highlanders have not won more than three games in a season since 2009. That year, Heathwood Hall made their last playoff appearance falling short of the SCISA state title. With Lattimore now roaming the sidelines, the goal is obviously to return to glory. But Lattimore hopes his players are able to achieve one more goal.
"I don't believe it's a secret we're building a program," Lattimore said. "I think our B-team and our JV are coming up and are learning our system and, you know after a few years in the system, I think they'll blossom into something great. This year, I want my seniors to have a good experience. That's my goal. That's their goal. Obviously, we have some things that we want to achieve on the field, but we're not really focused on that. We're going to take it week by week."
In his varsity coaching debut, Lattimore led Heathwood Hall to a 42-7 win over Oakwood Prep.