There's an old football quote that says "Winning's not about X's and O's, it's about Willie's and Joe's."
The message is: talent wins games. And there's no question about that.
But if you asked Ludlowe girls volleyball or Prep boys soccer, they'd likely say their success is based on both.
On the surface, Meghan Skelton and Ryan Lyddy may not appear to have much in common. But scratch below and their success rates are not far apart. Lyddy's now 2-for-2 in conference championships after the Jesuits won 1-0 on Tuesday night against Branford.
Skelton's been to a conference championship and lost -- although falling victim to the Darien dynasty is nothing to be upset about. She's been to two Class LL state championship games as Ludlowe's coach and lost in each.
Yet, her tenacity is unmistakable, and her outspoken confidence makes Skelton one of the league's best. She told me before last season that her squad was capable of an FCIAC and state championship in 2012.
Other coaches-- fearing Rex Ryan-esque backlash or some retribution from the fictional "volleyball gods" -- would stay quiet, yet Skelton will gladly tell it like it is. And what's happened? The Falcons have lost just one match -- to Darien -- were one win from a share of the conference title, as of Thursday, and will be on the short list of favorites to claim Class LL's top honors.
Is that enough for Skelton? Not quite. She's still frustrated her team can't claim sole possession of the FCIAC crown.
"I don't think anyone's happy," Skelton said Tuesday after her team's 3-0 win over Westhill. "We want it. We want it by ourselves, obviously."
Lyddy seems to have a similar style. He's not afraid to speak his mind, good or bad. Although, it's been mostly good in nearly two full seasons as Jesuits coach. Prep's endured just three losses under Lyddy and has embraced his-- and the school's-- Jesuit mission of fellowship and brotherhood.
Still, Prep's on-field play seems to fit Lyddy's character well. Defense first, score a couple of goals and don't be scared to agitate some people.
But was Lyddy satisfied with his team's win on Tuesday? Not quite.
"I thought we played great for a while," he said. "Then we got a little sloppy in the back, which is not our style of play."
But the most important reason why Skelton and Lyddy are successful is they put their kids in the best position to be successful. When it's time to crack the whip, they crack the whip. When their kids need to be built-up, they build up their kids.
They're both poised for deep state tournament runs -- Lyddy's starts Friday against Ludlowe, ironically. Skelton's will begin Saturday night. Both are confident, and both should be.
They have the Willie's and Joe's to claim state titles.
The X's and O's aren't a problem either.