Ray Gatlin loves to accept a challenge.
The 35-year-old football coach doesn't just accept challenges, however. He chooses almost herculean tasks to break near-record losing streaks.
In 2005 he helped Green Run (Virginia Beach, Va.) snap a 51-game losing streak in his first game as head coach. That is the second-longest losing streak in Virginia history.
Fast-forward to last Friday night when he led his alma mater, Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.)
, to an emotional 21-0 victory over Kempsville (Virginia Beach, Va.).
On that occasion he helped the Cavaliers snap a 42-game, on-the-field, losing streak. They actually had one forfeit victory during that streak, but they had been beaten very badly on that occasion. Discounting the forfeit, Princess Anne had lost 68 of its previous 69 games.
Junior Jordan Glover
sparked the Cavaliers with two touchdowns catches and two other juniors, Konner Prichard
and Shelton Beale
, shared the quarterback duties. Just three seniors start.
In the final minute Gatlin received the traditional Gatorade bath.
"It was amazing," he said. "We had a packed house and it was the first week of school."
Comparing the two historic triumphs, Gatlin related, "It was pretty similar. People stormed the field. It was my first game as head coach and I wasn't really a part of losing, so it didn't mean as much. Being in this program for so long and also the fact that I graduated from Princess Anne it meant a lot more. A lot of our kids had not won a game in their career."
Is he a streak buster?
"I don't think about that," he replied. "I'm just kind of persistent and take jobs that other people don't want. I was told not to take the jobs, but I like the challenge. I've heard 'It's a career suicide' and all that, but I do it for the kids."
Returning to Princess Anne, where he played football, basketball and baseball, Gatlin joked, "They probably looked at me as the only one crazy enough to take the job. But they knew I was a hard worker."
Despite an 0-2 start, Gatlin sensed that a win was on the way because, "We have a good group and the kids never quit. They always responded no matter what. (The win) will help tremendously. After the game the kids were ecstatic."
This week he could face an entirely different problem, though.
"One win doesn't change things," he admitted, "They (opponents) still see us as a team that can't win. Outsiders expect to beat us. We've got seven more games. This is going to help, but we've got to bring them back to Earth."
Larry Rubama, who covered the big victory for the Virginian-Pilot, is a believer. He told MaxPreps, "I think he's going to turn it around."