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Prep football: Bond of coaches not affected by result

By Nick Brockman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Win or lose, football coaches Donnie Mays and Craig Snyder figure their friendship will survive whatever outcome results when their respective teams face Friday.

The two coaches started a bond approximately five years ago, then assistant coaches, and since have shared film, advice and friendship. For the first time since that mutual respect relationship started, the coaches will face one another when South Charleston plays host to Winfield 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Mays, the second-year Black Eagles coach, said jokingly the coaches, who normally communicate often, might experience a period of silence during the weekend following the game.

"He'll hate me for about 24 hours or I'll hate him for about 24 hours, whatever it is, but we're still going to be friends in the end," he said.

South Charleston enters the Mountain State Athletic Conference tilt with a 5-2 record, ranked 10th in this week's Daily Mail poll, while Winfield (3-3) looks to add a signature win to a hopeful postseason resume.

Mays said the two coaches struck a friendship as the result of discussions during 7-on-7 camps approximately five or six years ago.

"We became friends through passing tournaments and he and I just started bouncing ideas off each other," he said. "There's a lot of similarities with his offense and ours, but that's pretty much how the relationship started. We usually give each other a phone call two, three times a week just to check on each other and see how everybody's doing. Of course, he won't answer my phone calls since we play them this week."

Winfield's Snyder, also a second-year head coach, said the two coaches have learned they share a lot in common football-related or not.

"I've always respected how he operated as a coach," Snyder said of Mays. "I like what he does offensively, and although I don't do the same thing offensively, there's some things he's shared with me I try to do. I don't think there are many secrets between coaches who respect each other. I really do respect him as a knowledgeable, hard-working coach."

Both coaches admit there are similarities between the two teams' spread offenses, some more secret than others this week.

"I told (Mays) Sunday after we watched film that I stole of his route combinations and he acted like he didn't care," Snyder said. "When he called me (Monday), the first thing he said was 'I got it narrowed down to three combinations that you've taken from me,' and I said 'I'm not telling you.'"

With a laugh, Mays said, "I don't like that guy at all," referring to his friend and this week's opponent.

Mays continued to joke about the swiped plays.

"That's Craig for you," he said. "Of course, he's calling me and telling me he's stealing some passing concepts this week based off of our films, so that's Craig."

Each team features one of the state's top five quarterbacks in AAA for passing yardage. South Charleston's Kentre Grier, a sophomore, ranks third, having completed 103 of 166 passes for 1,411 yards, with 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions.

Meanwhile, Winfield senior Toby Show ranks fifth. Show has completed 97 of 155 passes for 1,151 yards, including 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Kevin Forrest (35 receptions, 524 yards) and Fred Crozier (32 catches, 396 yards) list among Grier's top targets. Winfield's Chris Turner (26-312), John Hathaway (25-292) and Tyler Hill (17-276) lead the Generals receiving corps.

In addition to pass-heavy offenses, Snyder said there are other likenesses between the programs.

"The biggest similarity between he and I are that we're both no-huddle teams, and we never huddle, we don't like to huddle," he said.

"We try to play tempo, though we do it a different way than he does."

Because the two know each other so well and respect one another, the coaches wished each other good luck. Come Friday, that friendship between football coaches might more closely resemble a chess match, attempting to out-think the opponent.

"When he's successful, it makes me happy - now, I don't want him to be successful Friday night," Snyder said. "He wants to get in a track meet with me, and I have other plans, and he knows that."

For Mays, he said he has prepared his team just as any other game.

The only difference, for him, will be the postgame handshake.

"It's no different than any other Friday night," he said. "For me, it's just knowing across the field is a pretty close friend of mine. That's nothing big or nothing small. It's just after the game, we'll probably shake hands and have a little more in common to talk about."


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