Arlington Martin football coach basks in magical all-star experience

Posted Monday, Dec. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Most people come to Disney World for a vacation.

But most people don’t get the opportunity like Arlington Martin’s coach Bob Wager has, who is here coaching in the Under Armour All-America game featuring some of best high school football players the country has to offer.

Wager is one of 22 high school coaches selected to be assistants at the annual all-star game held Thursday (3 p.m., ESPN) at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World.

“I’m honored to be here,” said Wager. “I’m here as a result of having great football players, great assistant coaches and a community that cares a great deal about football; there’s no doubt about that.”

Wager, now in his eighth season at Martin, is an established and well-respected high school football coach, but it took years of the same hard work and commitment that he preaches to his players to be at this point of his career.

Once a head coach at Class A Tolar, Wager admits he never envisioned his career being at this point.

“To be honest with you, I never even thought to leave Tolar when I was there,” Wager said. “I’m thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had and it’s humbling to be here.”

Once a high school running back, Wager is coaching the running backs for Team Highlight, which is led by former NFL head coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci.

If the reward of coaching at the Under Armour game wasn’t an over-the-top thrill to begin with for Wager, the chance to coach running back Leonard Fournette of New Orleans, the No. 1 player in the country according to ESPN, added an even bigger smile to his face.

Wager knows there’s only so much you can teach a player of Fournette’s caliber in five days, but he wants to leave an impact on him once he’s done.

“I’m not going to revamp [Fournette’s] entire game,” Wager said. “I want to teach my players ball security and the eagerness to do whatever they can to help our team win.”

In just one short day of practice, Wager, as he’s done throughout his career, has made a lasting impression on his players.

“Coach [Wager] teaches us all the right things,” Fournette said. “He’s been great to work with.”

Arlington Martin didn’t send just one representative. Also invited to play in the Under Armour All-America game was Myles Garrett, the Warriors’ all-state defensive end who has committed to Texas A&M.

The player-coach duo share a special bond and they’re both grateful to team up for one last game together.

“I have a great relationship with my coach,” Garrett said. “Coach Wager motivates me, while guiding me along and pushing me to get better each day.”

All throughout the Disney complex there are head coaches with experience ranging from the NFL to high schools across the country, all sharing knowledge and the same willingness to teach.

Wager is not only here to help the players improve, but also to improve as a football coach.

“If I can go home a better football coach and bring that back to Martin High School, then it was certainly a worthwhile trip,” he said.

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