Coming off of a 1-9 season last year, some might say you don’t have anywhere to go but up. There’s a little more to the turnaround by the Bobcats of Robert F. Munroe Day School this season than simply the law of averages.
For one, the team that last year was dominated by underclassmen, many of whom were playing varsity football for the first time, is a year older and certainly a little more seasoned. Although they only have four seniors, the roster does feature eight juniors, giving the Bobcats an even dozen upperclassmen, all who either start or play significant downs for the team thus far.
With the exception of senior offensive tackle/defensive end Walt Kelleher, who has been sidelined for two weeks with an ankle sprain, the Bobcats have also avoided the injury bug, and this has led to development of continuity on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Three consecutive shutouts and an offense that has averaged 462 total yards and 48.3 points per game certainly speak to an improvement in efficiency and effectiveness.
Some of this can also be attributed to a growing rapport between the staff and the players.
“They’re better understanding what we are trying to do and so far are executing as they are coached,” said Bobcat Head Coach Danny Hood. The addition of two new staff members, line coach Joey Birdsong and backs coach Jayme Williams, has also brought a combination of good skill teaching and enthusiasm, which has played a big part in the early success.
“I feel like our run game’s success can be partly attributed to our line getting off of the ball with good feet,” said Hood. “I’m very pleased with this group’s play so far.”
The Bobcats also have something else very important to inspire them this season, even beyond the obvious desire to be better than last year: They are playing for a fallen member of the team, as they lost teammate Josh Wilder to a tragic automobile crash over the summer.
“Every day we think about him,” said Hood, reflecting on the team’s dedication. “We always say No. 9 is with us, always. Josh was a hard worker and the guy who has the best week of practice gets to wear Josh’s jersey that Friday night.”
The players certainly have learned a hard life lesson from the loss, but it is evident that they are using it as a source of strength.
“It was a terrible thing, but we are just playing for him,” said senior Myles Edwards. “When we can turn a program around like we did from going 1-9 to 3-0 right now and not even be scored on, it shows how much we are playing for him. I mean that really touched us, brought us together.”
The road ahead will definitely become harder with a trip to Jacksonville to play 3-1 Cedar Creek Christian this Friday and an Oct. 4 match-up at Corry Field with rival Aucilla Christian, who also stands at 3-1 after an impressive 54-26 victory over John Paul II last week. Momentum is still on the side of the Bobcats; keeping it will depend on a continuation of their dedication and the determination to leave last season’s struggles in the rear view mirror.