The football team currently stands with an 0-6 record, and they face off against the Bradford Owls, who also stand 0-6, this Friday in Bradford.
So far, the team has played Clarion, Karns City, Brookville, St. Marys, Kane and Ridgway-Johnsonburg. Senior Derek Ishman, an offensive and defensive lineman who is one of the team’s four captains, said the team has been losing so far because they have played their schedule’s toughest teams.
“Our season has started rough based on the best teams in the league being at the front of the schedule,” Ishman said. “It’s hard to start the season like that.”
Head coach Brad Wright said the team is younger and more inexperienced than in years past. He said younger players who “should probably be playing JV this year” are starting at the skill positions (positions like quarterback and wide receiver who carry and handle the ball) because the majority of the team’s older players are not experienced at them. Freshmen and sophomores, he said, aren’t the only newer players starting; the team has many first-year older players this year as well.
Wright said the team’s youth and inexperience contribute to their losing record. Because much of the team is younger, he said, they’re prone to mental mistakes and struggle to execute plays. He added that their age and smaller stature make it difficult for them to match the older, stronger players other teams have.
“It [Youth] does lend itself to mental mistakes and a lack of execution,” Wright said. “With 14- and 15-year-olds playing against 17- and 18-year-olds, physically they’re overmatched at times. And mentally they just don’t have the experience to perform at a high level yet.”
Wright and Ishman said the team is performing well in some departments despite their losses, though. Wright said the team’s “veteran” offensive line succeeds at opening up holes for the running backs, adding that they have “shown the most improvement.”
Ishman said the team is doing well at perfecting plays and standing strong in the face of adversity.
“We’re doing well at learning the plays, learning how to get over shortcomings,” he said. “We can’t just give up and roll over on the season just because it isn’t going in our favor.”
After Bradford this week, the team will face Brockway, Moniteau and Redbank Valley. Wright said he likes the team’s chances in these four games, especially against 0-6 Bradford. He said if the team can mentally prepare themselves for the challenge and play their best football, they can come out of the season with some victories.
“We just need to get it in our minds that we’re capable of it, and travel to Bradford and be road warriors and take care of business,” Wright said. “If we can show some improvement and reduce the amount of turnovers, fumbles and interceptions, reduce the amount of big plays and tackle a lot better, we can win some football games here in the homestretch.”