PEMBROKE — Through this offseason, Purnell Swett football coach Jon Sherman has noticed his group of guys, while a little smaller than years past, has banded together better than the last two years.
The closely-knit team has embraced wanting to move above the reputation the team has built, and is moving forward with the group of around 45 varsity players now taking on the rigorous offseason workout regiment, hoping a change will come from it.
“I think they got sick and tired of losing because they know they’re talented,” Sherman said. “I think they’re tired of being told they suck and tired of losing when they know they have talent to be better.”
Purnell Swett finished 3-8 last season, after a 3-2 start, and through the physical workouts a strong finish is what is being preached.
Staying strong to the line
The Rams stumbled through conference play and had games that slipped out of their grasp, against Pine Forest and Hoke, in late-game situations. That lesson is being carried over into conditioning as Purnell Swett looks to keep its intensity up for a whole game, and not just select moments.
“We’re preaching intensity and endurance. That’s why we ran a lot today so that way we will be in shape,” Sherman said. “It’s a mentality we have here is start, stay and finish. Start strong, stay strong and finish strong. We let some games get away from us last year and that’s part of our issue.”
Finally a family
Despite breaking down every huddle by yelling ‘family,’ there was a sense from Sherman that last year’s team didn’t fit into that mantra. But with adversity unforeseen during the season with Hurricane Matthew, and how the players have went through this offseason, the Rams have more of a family feel and it has left an impact on the buying in process this year.
“It feels like a family this year. We preached it last year, but it didn’t feel like it,” Sherman said. “This year it feels like everyone is in it.”
Repetition, repetition, repetition
With relatively new faces stepping up from the bench to starters rolls, the Rams are making sure the players progression for how they react on the field will be better with a busy slate of 7 on 7 scrimmages and focus on positional assignments in workouts.
“We are going a lot of 7-on-7s this week and next week because it’s all about reps,” Sherman said. “As far as skill perspective we are going to get a lot of reps, on the defensive side we’re going to get our coverage calls and o-line and d-line will get their reps at practice time. Reps is our key.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.