CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Before turning attention to another Friday night full of important games in the high school playoff chase, one last bit from last week's showdown between Huntington and Capital bears mention.
It's a gray-area, non-statistically based issue that commonly separates championship teams from talented also-rans.
Prior to the Highlanders' 24-10 win at Bob Sang Stadium last week, I asked Huntington Coach Billy Seals what the biggest difference was between his current team and the squad that lost to Capital 48-14 in the final week of the 2012 regular season.
Both teams returned a majority of their starting lineups from that game, which Seals described as a "good old-fashioned butt-kicking."
Seals said the difference was not in his team's ability to handle diversity, or any such typical coachspeak.
"I think we've learned how to handle success a little better," he said. "Kids have to know what it's like to be a winner and how to deal with higher expectations that comes with winning. I think we've done a better job with that this year."
Seals is 27-23 at Huntington in four-plus seasons, which began with an 0-10 season in 2009. By all indications, the Highlanders will maintain the No. 1 spot in the SSAC's Class AAA playoff ratings when they are released this afternoon. They've been there since the first ratings were released three weeks ago.
Playing the no-respect card is Coaching 101, especially when it comes to impressionable high school student-athletes. It's relatively easy to motivate a group of such people by telling (lying to) them by saying no one believes in them and they have to go out and prove everybody wrong and so forth.
Not great for cultivating positive self-image, but pretty effective in "let's go out and crack some skulls" department.
That makes Seals' admission more noteworthy. When a talented team knows its potential and is driven not by negativity but by the desire to live up to the praise thrown its way, the results can be devastating for opponents.
On the other side of the field Friday night, Capital Coach Jon Carpenter refused to mince words following the loss.
"Tonight was a test and we failed," he said. "We're not where we want to be."
With its plentiful talent, Capital might still be a year away from the realization of its potential. One loss doesn't turn a season into a "wait 'til next year" situation, but the Cougars are still young at many key positions.
It's also interesting that Carpenter has been the Cougars' head coach one year fewer than Seals has been at Huntington. Though the Capital coach inherited a better hand than his Highlander counterpart, there was still a mentality overhaul that needed to take place, one in which the surrounding rivals - George Washington and South Charleston in particular - weren't the most important teams upon which to focus.