South hoping to be different team vs. Mohigans
Patriots focused on building up camerderie in practice
PARKERSBURG — In a season that is becoming increasingly uncomfortable for the Parkersburg South football team, a troubling problem continues to cause a lot of concern: Why can’t the Patriots play a full game?
That has become the ultimate question for Nate Tanner and his staff as they prepare for a game against Morgantown at 7 p.m. Friday night at Erickson All-Sports Facility. Although they continue to rotate through offensive lines and deal with injuries each week, the Patriots have shown signs of emerging from the funk … at least in the first half the last two weeks.
Putting big points on the scoreboard in the second half and playing a full game is something coach Tanner hasn’t seen his football team do since a 42-6 win over Woodrow Wilson. It is not the ideal situation for a team six games into its season. Tanner said a lack of discipline lends itself toward the lack of execution.
His staff and he have tried multiple solutions to fixing the discipline problems from more up-downs to harsher punishments in practice for infractions, but they have produced only middling results.
“This year it just hasn’t been effective for some reason,” Tanner said.
Such was the case again last Friday against Linsly.
The Patriots watched a 19-16 lead in the second half turn into a 33-19 loss. Though they got off to a positive start by scoring a touchdown and then forcing the Cadets into a three-and-out, a false start penalty on the ensuing drive, after South picked up two first downs and successfully used tempo to march into Cadet territory, caused the wheels to fall off.
So it was back to the drawing board for the coaches and staff on another solution to the problem.
This time everyone looked at the conundrum from a different point of view.
Maybe their group wasn’t playing as well together because they weren’t playing for each other Tanner reasoned. Maybe those four months the team spent training apart from each other because of the COVID-19 pandemic affected camaraderie more than they thought. Maybe the kids just don’t know each other. “A lot of team chemistry is built in the weight room by working out together. The kids got some of that by working in pods of 10 but everyone wasn’t around each other,” he said.
As such, the team has held a few family meetings this week to hash things out. “The only way to develop trust is to interact and communicate,” Tanner said.
Everyone got the opportunity to get some things off their chest and it got everyone interacting with each other.
“This is like a work place and all sixty guys need to get along,” he said. “I don’t expect the kids to be best friends and buddies that is just unrealistic. But if everyone has an understanding who each person is and what they are about it helps because then they can play for one and other. Whenever you are playing for one and other things really take off.”
Hopefully for the Patriots, the changes work.
Morgantown arrives for the contest in a bad mood after two tough losses to begin the season. Sean Biser’s team lost to Musselman and Wheeling Park in consecutive weeks. The opportunity for the Mohigans to pick up win No. 1 certainly exists against Tanner’s group and he knows it.
“They are excited to play and coming in they surely see where we have had a lack of success and it will increase their confidence,” he said. “They haven’t played much but they play extremely hard and are well coached. They don’t hit a lot of home runs, but are extremely methodical with what they do.”
Tanner’s also looking for more players than Cyrus Traugh and Devin Gaines to step up on the defensive end against the Mohigans. Multiple talented Mohigan players can cause trouble and it is going to take a team effort to shut down running backs Cameron Rice and Deondre Cruddup.
“This is a very winnable game. That is why we are having the team meetings. We just have to find a way to play a solid game for four quarters,” Tanner said.