Hazelwood East Soars To The Top

Getting The "Winning Edge"

By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Summer 1996

Jim Brown did a BFS Clinic for Hazelwood East High School in St. Louis, Missouri.  Coach Rick Gorzynski's Spartans have had the best record in the area since 1989 but always had trouble when they got to the playoffs.  "A lot of people call us chokers," said Gorzynski.  After a heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals in 1994, Coach Gorzynski called Coach Brown for a clinic.

"You have two thirds of a program," analyzed Coach Brown.  "You've got an offense, a defense but no real weight program."  The Spartans were hungry so they listened very carefully.  "I told them," said Brown, "that if they'd do the BFS program, they would be in the state championship game and that I would be there with them."  Coach Brown emphazised Power Cleans, Power Snatches, Jerk Presses and Plyometric routines.  He set up their weight room with new equipment including Power Clean platforms.  He worked with the players individually, with the P.E. teachers plus the all-day clinic in March of 1994.

Michael Young did 14 reps with an incredible amount of weight on the Squat to represent the 14 games necessary to winning the state championship.  Michael just signed with Illinois and was a first team All-State player.  Jim remembered at the clinic that Michael could not Push Press 135 pounds but then Michael and the rest of the Spartans went to work with a new-kindled intensity.  David Webber led the charge in the weight room.  He had worked with Coach Brown since the 6th grade at Poplar Bluff before David transferred to Hazelwood East as a junior so he was already extremely strong.  David has attained the All-American standards and then some on the Bench, Squat, Power Clean and Dead Lift.  David not only made our first BFS All-American team but we just selected David as our BFS Athlete of the Year.  A special feature story will be presented on David in a future BFS Journal.  David, at 6-2 275, was also a first team All-State player and is headed for Nebraska. 

Hazelwood East began winning as usual but by more dominant scores which included five shutouts and became nationally ranked.  They were 13-0 going into the 5-A state championship game against unbeaten Blue Springs South who was averaging 35 points per game.  Jim Brown was there as promised.  "The players all came up to me before the game," said Brown.  "They all said how much the weights had helped them.  They felt so much more explosive which they said was due especially to the Power Cleans."

Hazelwood East forced their opponents to punt on their first six possessions.  They didn't make a first down against the Spartan defense until the second quarter and gave up only 81 yards of total offense enroute to a 42-3 victory.  Ricardo Rhodes, a 5-5 stick of dynamite and Missouri Player of the Year, scored on runs of 5, 60 and 73 yards.  That was good for a new state mark of 48 touchdowns in a season.  Ricardo finished with 1,805 yards rushing on 231 carries for the season.  He always gives credit to his massive line.  Ricardo will go to Missouri next fall.  All in all, Hazelwood East will send 6 players on Division I scholarships and two more to Division I-AA schools.  The Spartans finished 18th in the final USA Today National Football Rankings.

Head Coach Rick Gorzynski, who was picked as the Missouri Coach of the Year, stated, "We were looking for something to take us to the next level.  The BFS clinic and Jim Brown gave us the "Winning Edge".  I thought the plyometrics helped us tremendously.  Our kids shifted from emphasizing the Bench to the legs and hips by doing the Power Clean and Squat.  It just became a much better atmosphere."