Like Father, Like Son
Sep 19, 2011 04:41PM ● Published by Mike
“I was fast, but not as fast as Sabian,” says Tony Holmes, Sabian’s father and the Dragon’s current defensive back coach. Tony was best known on the field for his grit and determination as a past five year defensive back for the University of Texas Longhorns (’98). He exemplified a strong work ethic after coming back from a torn ACL early in his career to become a leader of the Longhorn’s stifling 1999 Cotton Bowl defense. Dad may not be as fast as his 4 x 400 relay State Championship track-star son but he can still teach him a thing or two about toughness and leadership. Tony has been working with his son to pass along his skills as long as he can remember. Now as Sabian plays in his senior season, it is his turn to anchor the defensive backfield as his father coaches from the sidelines.
Last year Sabian cracked the starting line-up as a relatively untested and unknown cornerback playing alongside proven three time All-District selection Shaun Hoagland. As opposing coaches planned their passing attacks around the well-known defensive skills of Hoagland, Holmes became the target of more than his share of passing plays. Relying on his speed, agility and the defensive technique he learned from his father, Sabian turned in a solid junior season and was honored as a 2nd Team All-District selection.
“I started to see Sabian’s potential as a freshman,” says Tony, “but last year I knew he was really starting to become a special player to be reckoned with.” So special, that he just had to play both sides of the ball. In addition to shutting down receivers, Sabian became one himself. During the Dragon’s late playoff run last season he was a prime target for his own quarterback, Kenny Hill. In a 38-24 win over Abilene on November 27th, Holmes posted four receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
This year, head coach Hal Wasson is looking to utilize Sabian’s speed as a receiver the entire season, not just in the playoffs. “Sabian will always be on the outside,” says Wasson, “he’s a vertical threat that will spread the defense more and put tremendous pressure on them.”
Playing both offense and defense can be a challenge but the stand-out speedster is ready for it. Once again, he has his father right by his side. Tony, also the head track coach, and Sabian, have been working on physical endurance during their never-ending training sessions on the track and on the turf.
Just as important, Tony has imparted the mental fortitude for success in his son. “We have definitely drilled toughness and we’ve worked on the small details, my technique and my hips,” says the younger Holmes. “It takes endurance and sacrifice to play both ways,” says Tony, “the sacrifice is made when guys are on the sidelines getting water, listening to coaches and getting a breather while you are out there working hard on every play. That is what is expected of a two-way player.”
In Southlake, expectations are great and they can become even greater if that player is a coach’s son. Sabian admits there are also pressures to being the son of a coach, “Yes, it is tough being the coach’s kid, the expectations that players and coaches have on you are very high. But the bonus is you have a coach around 24-7.”
And that means over the summer too. To make sure Sabian meets his potential on both sides of the ball, both father and son focused a lot more on his offense over the summer break. Because of the extra work Sabian says, “I’ve gotten better at recognizing coverages as a receiver and getting a feel of the game, the mindset is very different on the other side of the ball.” When asked what his father’s greatest lessons have been, Sabian replies, “Where should I start? He has taught me a lot, but most of all, hard work gets you everywhere in life.”
Coaching his son through life, football and track leads to a lot of time together. But it is not all work for this father and son team. From sports to food, video games, and even liking the same musicians, the two have a lot in common, “We talk a lot,” says Tony as they both enjoy hanging out with one another especially going out to eat at Chili’s, their favorite restaurant. Another thing they’ll have to talk about is which school the younger Holmes will attend in the fall. According to Rivals.com Sabian is currently entertaining such schools as SMU, Texas Tech, and West Virginia to name a few. Whether watching practice, film, or just talking about the game over their favorite Triple-Dippers, both father and son share a love for their sport and for one another.