After last year’s 5-5 MCAL record, the Tam Varsity Football team enters the 2011 season with 33 players in addition to a new coaching staff determined to take the team to the playoffs. Former freshman team coaches Jon Black and Rip Ridley have been promoted to head coach and special teams coach respectively. There are also two coaches new to Tam: defensive coordinator Mark Wagner and offensive line coach and Tam alumnus Jason Finklestein. They come with a new offensive and defensive scheme as well as the ability to inspire Tam’s varsity squad.
“I think we’re going to do better than last year,” said senior Morgan Hill, “The strategies we have on defense and offense are really going to help us out.”
Tam failed to achieve victory in their opening matchup against St. Patrick St Vincent. A large number of turnovers proved to be a major pitfall, though later in the game, Tam managed a drive without turning the ball over. This lead to a touchdown, and the game ended in a 21-7 loss. Tam came out hungry against Lincoln, beating their opponents 34-8, thanks in part to a lock down defense designed by coach Wagner.
“Most of the coaches I’ve worked with before,” said Black, “They all have a significant amount of experience. The combination of people I know and trust and [their coaching] experience I think will help the team.”
The players agree, and any are excited to play for Black and his staff. The new coach’s experience and knowledge is already showing.
“We’re much more disciplined,” said Senior Xavi Caputo. “The line is a lot stronger and we’re more organized in our plays. It’s already evident that we’re playing at a much higher level than we have in previous years. We’re all stronger and that really translates on the field.”
“Coach Wagner knows how to call a defense and knows how to read what an offense is going to do,” said Hill.
Much of the team’s increase in strength is due to the challenging summer program. In addition to the two week-long spring training practice, varsity players must clock at least 60 hours in the weight room as well as attend a field practice in the afternoon.
At the end of the summer training players must be able to lift a certain amount of weight according to level. In this case, varsity players had to bench press 135 pounds and squat 225 pounds. This program was not only designed to strengthen the players for performance and safety, but also to identify players who had the dedication to complete such a monumental task.
Scypion added, “We’re tough. We fight this year. We got attitude. Everybody’s got the same goal, and that’s to win this year.”