By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS. Ore.– Working on some offense under October-isc skies on home turf, or grass in this instance, the boys of the Gervais Football team found themselves less than a week from putting on the pads for the 2016-2017 season.
With them working on technique on some running plays and some route running as a wave of rain showers rolled in mid-practice, there is some fire within knowing that if they executed better and injuries weren’t as bad as they were, that 0-9 record from 2015 would’ve been different.
“0-9 last year kind of hurt a lot,” said Senior Peter McKinley. “I was kind of pissed off to be honest, we were a lot better than 0-9 showed. We competed a lot better than 0-9, we didn’t execute the way we should.”
This summer, there’s been an average of 15 kids out at summer training, an increase from the seven from Head Coach’s Josh Crawford.
There’s maturity from the coaches all the way down to the players as the second-year Head Coach.
“The kids want it more than anything, more than I’ve seen playing or coaching,” said Crawford. “We’re having an average of 15, I would say that’s a good average. Last year we had an average of seven (kids) and we have eight coaches out here, so that’s a big change.
“Just the maturity of being a first time head coach, having a first year defensive coordinator and have a bunch of kids that were really back-ups their entire career until last year. There’s a lot of maturity that took place.”
Beyond that, Crawford knows that last year’s winless record left a sour taste in their mouths entering the offseason; but Crawford doesn’t want that sour taste to leave.
“I don’t want the sour taste out of our mouths because I think that’s more fire,” said Crawford. “Our starting center, who was suppose to be a All-League kid last year, wasn’t an All-League last year. We talk constantly, he’s always texting me asking me stuff about football, he didn’t do that last year too.
“They just don’t want to go 0-9 again. The seniors don’t want to go 0-9, so I don’t want the taste to get out of their mouths until the season is over.”
As practice wrapped up, with an emphasis on executing plays down to perfection, you saw McKinley bearcrawing with teammate Brett Gieselman cheering him on to the finish. You saw that fire to prove that last year’s 0-9 was a fluke.
For McKinley, it sure boiled over from last year.
“I think going 0-9 kind of feed me into wrestling, it feed me a lot into a lot of things,” he said. “I’m just really determined to not go 0-9 again. I’m really determine it to end it with a winning season.
“It’s just execution. I mean that’s all it is, we have several great players. We got Calen (Bischel) leads the line. Derrick (Jaramillo) really just moves all over the place. I mean we got leaders all over the place, but we got stout players. I’ll take our guys over most other guys, we just have to piece it together and execute.”
As the team exits the field, they know if they want to get where their dreams and goals are, they need to get over another thing as they entering the final week before camp:
The Stigma of Giving Up.
And it starts with the seniors.
“The seniors we have right now, when we came in freshman year we had a pretty good team even though weren’t doing great in the win column and we were going out against varsity a lot,” started McKinley. “We learned everything what not to do, so if we show what not to do hopefully the right thing will come.
“The thing we need to do is to get passed the ‘quit’ attitude, that Gervais has and not just in football but in most of every sports. When we get behind, we give up, so knowing that me Calen, Derrick, Richie (Luna); knowing that the seniors this year, we just have to show up and show that quitting is not an option anymore. 0-9 isn’t an option anymore.”
Confidence is there. Confidence is high. The season is right around the corner, and the Cougars are ready to go for the task ahead in the 3A.
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SOME PHOTOS FROM MONDAY (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)