Fairview football coach David Latkovic addresses his players
during a conditioning session last week. (West Life photo by
hired to revitalize Fairview football
By Jim Horvath
Published July 30, 2008
an undersized offensive lineman in high school and college, David
Latkovic had to rely on technique and mental toughness as he went
up against bigger and stronger opponents.
He’ll attempt to teach that same approach to his football
players this fall after being named the new head football coach
at Fairview this month.
“I was always undersized for the position,” said Latkovic,
who played guard at both St. Edward High School and at Wittenberg
University. “I started out at around 195 pounds, then went to 205
and then got to 215. But I was going up against guys who were 260,
280, 300 pounds, so I had to use good technique and aggressiveness.
“Technique and heart. If I can impart that to the
kids here at Fairview, we’ll be solid. And mental toughness is paramount.
That goes beyond physical toughness. Mental toughness is where it’s
at,” said Latkovic after a morning conditioning session with his
players last week.
Latkovic was an assistant coach at Fairview last season,
his first with the Warriors. He came to Fairview from John Marshall
High School where he served as the head football coach and a teacher
in the English Department. He also had stints as a coach at Oberlin
High School and Oberlin College.
Now he takes over the program at Fairview, a program
he sees as a “diamond in the rough.”
“I see this as a step up for me,” said Latkovic. “I
think this is my dream job. The facilities are phenomenal, the booster
club is great and the parents have been supportive of what we’re
trying to do here.
“This is all I’ve ever wanted. We have kids here who
want to succeed, and I want to be here to help them accomplish that.
I feel that I can make a difference here,” he said.
Latkovic had two stints at John Marshall, with the
Oberlin jobs sandwiched in between. The first time at Marshall,
his first team went 6-4. The second season, they were 4-2 before
an eligibility problem erased those four wins. The team went 2-2
the rest of the way.
At Oberlin, Latkovic said he had a lot of learning
experiences. “At Oberlin High, we went 0-fer,” he said. “That experience
really taught me what coaching is all about. Then at Oberlin College,
I learned a lot of other ways to motivate players. I also learned
a lot about running the West Coast offense.
The bottom line is, you have to motivate. It’s not
about you, it’s about the kids. I was a mad dog screamer at one
time. I still scream, now it’s just in a different way. But the
kids know if I’m not screaming at them, then I don’t think they
can get the job done,” he said.
Latkovic returned to John Marshall after the program
had gone 1-9 and 0-10 in his absence. The team went 0-6 to start
the season, but went 4-0 the rest of the way, including a big season-ending
win over Rhodes.
“That was very gratifying because of what they had
gone through the two years before I came back,” said Latkovic. “It
was great because ‘they got it.’ They finally understood what was
needed in order to turn things around, and they got it done.”
“It” is the concept that the team is greater than
any one individual, whether it be a player or coach.
“You have to submit to the cause,” said Latkovic.
“You have to submit and be part of the whole. And it has to be everyone:
the coaches, the players, the boosters, the parents, the community.
Everyone has to band together to make the whole the best it can
“And the first part of that is to lead by example.
I’m not above carrying a bag or getting water for someone. At Marshall,
I washed towels, cleaned toilets, whatever it took to make the program
better. Our coaches here run onto the field and to different stations
just like the players. When the kids see that, they think they should
do it too.”
And that, he said, is one of the big keys in getting
the program at Fairview on an upswing and getting more athletes
involved in the sport.
“It’s tough because football is a hard sport to play,”
said Latkovic. “Numbers are down throughout the country, not just
here. There are other sports to play that aren’t as tough, and besides
that there are too many other things for kids to do nowadays.
“Really, though, I don’t worry too much about numbers.
We want kids who want to submit to the program, to give it everything
they have and more. They have to want it. If they say they ‘might’
come out, I’m really not interested because their heart’s not in
“In football, you have to tear yourself down a bit
in order to be successful, and a lot of kids are reluctant to do
that. They don’t always see the reward that comes from going through
that process. But we have an awesome core group of kids here. When
they start to rise up and be successful, we’ll be able to build
from there,” he said.
In the long run, Latkovic feels the Warrior program
will turn the corner and prosper.
“Hey, it’s going great so far,” he said. “Everything’s
been positive, and the kids are beginning to get that ‘us against
the world’ mentality. That’s the type of community they come from,
though. There are a lot of hard-working people here at Fairview
that have to go after it every day. There are a lot of blue collar
folks here who know what it’s like to have to fight for what they
want and need.
“That’s the fight, the attitude our players have to
have. That’s the solidarity, the bond that will make this program
successful,” he added.