Early-season football takes its shape with seniors doing the creating
SHEPHERDSTOWN — High school football comes out of the dressing rooms with few surprises.
Is your team going to stand or fall behind a number of seniors whose football background includes some success as playmakers?
Linemen, who receive only scattered attention, often decide the outcome of the first few games, because the team hasn’t shown itself to be a cohesive unit of players making few mistakes. Defensive linemen can drown the players across from them and disrupt an opponent’s offense with a steady pass rush.
An offensive linemen can so dominate an opponent that running behind him can guarantee yardage and even touchdowns.
Some seniors get to start only because there are no underclassmen able to show the progress needed to get the team wins.
Many teams need at least one game to become a functioning group able to stay free of penalties, game-losing turnovers, a maligned kicking game and downcast outcomes when attempting extra points.
When trying to reverse the trepidation of too many losses, teams need some reasonable success and display the look of discipline, energy, conditioning and a care-about-one-another attitude.
Players leading by on-field actions and not empty words voiced in the dressing room or on the sideline during near-shambles of troubled times are to be valued.
No player can simply ride along on the coattails of someone else. A team trying to bring realistic confidence to its games has to have a stable of playmakers pulling it to respectability . . . and then victory.
Teams don’t rise and fall overnight. And they don’t win seven games after losing eight the previous season without players with more than just some ability and a litany of empty words being shouted aloud. Knowing the actual reasons some teams fail and others succeed give the athletes a head start on helping their team win.
Sometimes advanced skills are not the best weapons a team can have. Listening to an inner calling that screams “the team is more important than you are” even if a girl friend, any relative or classmate are always saying otherwise can make a team more lethal than a roster of individual-minded players.
Seniors usually get the first chances. The ones that echo “this is our last year to be remembered how we worked together and did as well as a team as we could” will beat the school whose individuals knew all their statistics and received pats on the back for yardage or tackles . . . and finished with a 3-7 record.