The players and coaches embraced this year’s team motto “Everything Matters” and exemplified it with their planning and focus on every detail this year both on and off the field.
Preparation for the season began last summer for the team with early morning conditioning.
“In the off season, we worked a lot harder in the weight room and had a bigger commitment to football than in past years,’’ junior Ty Black said.
The team attended mini-camps at area colleges to compete against different area schools. Coaches moved players around to different positions like chess pieces to maximize abilities and create the perfect game.
The football program under the guidance of Coach Black has created an atmosphere of family.
“At the beginning of the year, we were more like a family than a football team,” Black said. “We respected each other and were committed to each other. That is a really good sign for a football team.”
That feeling of family that the team felt all season was a by-product of the tireless efforts of the football booster club.
The organization is committed to the success of the program. They sponsored fundraising events throughout the year to support the team and hosted team dinners for the players during the week of every
home game. An open house was held before the season for the players’ mothers to meet the coaches and get a glimpse into what their sons do every day at practice. Before the season began, an intrasquad scrimmage known as the “Gatorade Scrimmage” was held and the cost of admission was Gatorade for the players to drink during the season.
Senior Emmanuel Woods attributes the team’s success to hard work, focus and maturity.
“I think we had great success this season because we worked hard over the summer and put in the grind,” Woods said. “The maturity of the team also helped us advance to the second round of the playoffs because we were more focused on winning and not just playing football. We all got focused and locked in as a team.”
Senior Braden Shaul had high expectations for the season.
“I expected to do pretty well,” Shaul said. “We returned 8 out of 11 players from last year’s team, so I knew our offense was going to be explosive. I think experience and doing everything right, especially the little things, have helped us this year,”.
Senior Ty Lindenman thought the team really held true to the mottos instilled by the coaches before and during the season.
“I feel like our success was largely due to the fact that more of our guys bought into the process than in previous years,” Lindenman said. The guys believed in “Everything Matters” and “Everyday Champions.” Everyone is “picking up their popcorn” which means doing their little part for the team.
“Last year we didn’t pick up our popcorn and got smacked,” Lindenman said.
The team had much to be proud of this past season. They finished the season 7-3 for the first time since 2007 and hosted the first two regional games at Shawnee Mission North.
They defeated all the Shawnee Mission schools they played this year, but the most gratifying win was against arch nemesis Shawnee Mission East. The win was special for lots of reasons but two of the biggest were that this win ended the 13 season long drought of losing to East,and the Cougars were able to prove the views expressed pre- game by the lancers as completely incorrect.
“It was a great feeling, we called it cash vs trash, cause were trash and there cash because of all that money,” Lindenman said
Black is confident and hopeful for next year.
“I am looking forward to next year,”Black said. “Our offense was made up of a lot of seniors, but the other side of the ball has a lot of younger guys which is good for next year. We will have a lot of experience and build on it.”