Former Clippers star has lead his alma mater to a 4-0 start
With the obstacles Larry Mitchell has overcome in his life, bouncing back from a 6-4 season in 2014, which his team labeled a disappointment, was not much of a challenge.
The Patterson football coach, who was paralyzed from the waist down and has been confined to a wheelchair since being shot in the back, when he had the misfortune of walking in on an armed robbery in 2001, has his Clippers off to a 4-0 start in 2015, including a 16-14 upset of then No. 12 Dunbar, last Friday.
For this achievement and all of his determination, Mitchell has been named the Baltimore Touchdown Club Coach of the Week for Week 5 of the 2015 high school football season.
Mitchell, who once played at Patteson and was a standout lineman, has gone 24-13 in three-and-half seasons at the Clippers helm, including an appearance in the 2013 2A State Semifinals. He is also now 2-3 against Dunbar with both wins coming on the Poets’ Sugar Cain Field. The Clippers blanked Dunbar there, 14-0, in the 2013 2A North Region title game.
“There has always been a very strong rivalry between Patterson and Dunbar so our kids, for the most part, pretty much live for this game every year,” said Mitchell. “I myself have had the opportunity to play in this rivalry as well as coach the game, so I understand the passion the kids feel.”
However, according to Mitchell, preparing for every game as if it means just as much as a rivalry contest, is the key to long-term success for his squad.
“We work hard every practice to prepare for our next opponent, learning from the mistakes we may have made in the past and always striving to get better,” he said. “It's the heart of our kid (team) that get's you through most physical and mentally tough games.”
Against the Poets, Patterson went in with game-plan to make Dunbar one-dimensional.
“Coming into the game, we knew they lost their returning quarterback from last year and had a young inexperienced QB, but they also were really good on the outside with their two receivers,” explained Mitchell. “Getting them to run the ball and winning the special teams battle was our main focus. Staying calm under pressure, keeping our composure and never giving up.”
Ranked No. 18 in the latest VSN Football Top 20, in addition to the BTC Coach of the Week honor, is validation for the effort being made by Mitchell and his Clippers.
“We are ever so humbled by this. We are seeing all of our hard work paying off I couldn't ask for a better group of kids to coach,” said Mitchell. “I feel, out of every team I have coached since I have been at Patterson, this team is the one that could have it all. I am so proud of the young men I have watched them become.
“As far as the program, a lot of people count Patterson High Dchool out, but we keep proving them wrong. We have the best principal in the city. Principal Benton is one of the driving forces to our success. He keeps me on my toes as a coach and he demands respect from the kids, as well as teaching them the importance of being humble and finishing what you start. This recognition will give the kids something tangible to see that hard work really does pay off.”
Mitchell also thanked the Baltimore Touchdown Club for its work with area football players.
“The BTC is a great association. It opens up opportunity for the kids that they wouldn't ordinarily have. The BTC not only focuses on the game, but on academics as well. The BTC exposes our kids to college (opportunities) when, perhaps, it may not even be a thought to them.”