One-man show

Published 6:03 pm Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Plymouth coach Robert Cody reacts after his team held on to top Murphy 20-15 in the state championship game. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

PLYMOUTH — When an overwhelmingly successful coach holds his position for more than 30 years at the same school legends are bound to sprout up. Tales of mythic feats and strategic maneuvers crawl off the football field until they become grown up folk tales that stay permanently affixed throughout the school halls like lockers and giant grey clocks.
Word of mouth carries them from person to person before they spread from generation to generation, growing exponentially each time. However, what makes this one particular tale of Plymouth coach Robert Cody different from most folklore is that this legend is self-perpetuated.
“He likes to say, ‘I gotta do it all, baby. I’m just a one-man show,’” said Plymouth’s first-year quarterback’s coach Alan Swain with a big laugh. “He says he does everything around here by himself and that why he’s a one-man show.”
The always-candid Cody may joke about being a one-man show but in August – just months before his team would win the state championship – those words never rang truer.
Anybody who’s ever coached at a 1-A school learns to quickly become a master at working with a limited staff and resources, but with longtime defensive coordinator Terry Perry taking a job at Bear Grass Charter right before the season started Cody’s responsibilities piled up like players diving for a fumble.
“One of the biggest hurdles this year was the coaching changes,” Cody said. “We had a coaching change a week before our first game. We had six days to make a change and we weren’t really set up with our practice plan until the first week of September.”
With Perry gone, 12-year co-defensive coordinator Corey Crossen stepped up and took the gig full time, while Swain, the newly hired baseball coach, took on the role of the team’s quarterback’s coach.
After shuffling his staff around to his liking, the One-Man Show and his crew produced a season that was worthy of primetime as the Vikings went 15-1 and marched their way to their second state championship in the past five years. That effort also led to Cody winning his seventh Washington Daily News Coach of the Year award.
While Swain joked about Cody’s self-bestowed One-Man Show moniker there wasn’t a trace of humor to be found when he called the Vikings coach the more befitting title of “Football Genius.”
“You never know what to expect with him. Everyday it’s something new, but football-wise he’s just a genius,” Swain said. “Especially on offense. He knows so much about the game it’s not even real.”
At times it was the Vikings ground game that looked unreal as Plymouth finished the year with three 1,000-yard rushers. While Cody’s wing-T offense is rooted in the run game, getting to and winning the state title game would not have been possible without completing some key passing plays.
The Vikings will run, run, run the ball until the defense loads up the box determined to stop it. Then, when the time is right, Cody will call for a  50-yard strike to the split end for a wide open score.
So how does he always know  the right time to unleash the bomb? Like his legend, it’s just something that comes with having put in a lifetime of work into the game.
“I love to say it’s a science and that I map it out during the week but it’s just a feel that comes because I have done it so long,” Cody said. “I’ve played quarterback since I was eight years old. It’s just a feel.”
And it feels like a winner.