By Tom Behrens
Mayde Creek High School varsity head football coach said the only thing he knew about the team he was taking over last year was what he saw on film. Mike Rabe replaced Lance Carter during the summer. Last year’s version of Ram football finished 0-10.
On paper, last year looked like a disaster, but coach Rabe and his staff saw improvement from when they began the season till when they finished in November.
“There were three of our games we should have won,” said Rabe. “Our players didn’t understand early in the year how to finish, to play all four quarters. As the season went on they became better, and became real competitive. There were three games that could have ended on the plus side for the Rams.
Mayde Creek lost to Morton Ranch by one point. The Rams lost in overtime to Tompkins. Against Taylor if Mayde Creek hadn’t been called for holding and have a touchdown called back on the last series of the game, the Rams would have tied the game and then had a chance to win.
Besides not finishing, Rabe shared poor physical shape and overall discipline helped contribute to the losing season.
“I told the team this off-season what I thought were some of our weaknesses from last year…strength and overall discipline.”
“I thought our overall physical strength was pretty poor. It’s really hard to go out there and compete in this district if you don’t have some physical strength. We can’t control the size of what our people are, but we can control how strong they are. I think we have done a pretty good job in addressing that this off-season. They embraced that.
“We had some discipline that needed to get fixed. We had 18 false starts last year; that’s ridiculous. You shouldn’t have that many false starts in a season, and they came in crucial times of the football games. We made our kids accountable for their actions in our off season work.”
Discipline in the locker room: “I think it will improve this year. It’s something we stressed. They don’t all have to like each other, but if they respect each other, work hard together, have a common goal, then I think you will see the team work really good together. We monitor that; we talk to them. It’s up to the senior class to demand that in the locker room, and I think this group is going to really do a good job.”
Offense and defense alignment will basically be the same as last year.
“It will be tweaked to fit our personnel, but it will be real similar to the way it looked last year. We pretty much have a plan in place.”
Last year Jaylen Brown was all over the field for the Rams. He took some snaps at quarterback, played linebacker and safety on defense.“We had to use Jaylen all over the place and he did a good job for us. Donovan Lee carried the load for us on most of our running plays.”
Rabe said when the season began last year, Nick Crawford was kind of non-descript, a real average player. “By the end of last year we moved him over to the defense side of the ball, and he was a pretty good nose guard. We will miss having him around, a really good, really smart kid.”
This year, senior running back, Sean McConico will be filling Lee’s shoes. “We run more like a zone kind of offense,” said McConico. “There’s a lot of stuff happening in front of you on each play, linemen pulling, you just have to be patient and pick your hole.” He should receive a lot of reps this year.
Anthony Alcoser will be back as quarterback. “We learned a lot from last year. We’re a lot stronger, more disciplined, and more hard workers. Everyone’s mind set is toward winning and making the playoffs.”
“In this class (seniors) everybody is close, hang out together, and like a family,” continued Alcoser. “Coach is a good person to talk with, getting everybody to play as a team. He talks, motivates, makes you buy into the program. Last year there was a lot of disappointment after we worked so hard to win the games. We believe we are going to win these games this year.”
Coach Rabe says the overall defense is going to be a little bigger in every position; same thing for offense… “a little bigger, thicker this year than last year’s team.”
The Mayde Creek Rams open this year against Kempner at Rhodes Stadium who are very good at running the triple option offense. The Ram defensive will have a chance practice some of the discipline they have been learning. “I think it’s really good for us to open up with that type of a team,” said Rabe. “We will have to play assignment football and do it for four quarters. That game will tell a lot about the character of this football team.”