Coming off 1-8 season, participation on the rise for Southmoreland
In his first four seasons as the Southmoreland football coach, Mark Adams’ teams have always faced an opponent well before they had taken a snap.
Being at one of the smaller Class 3A schools, Adams has worked toward building up a program that’s faced some tough times over recent years. With the help of some leadership from returning players, the Scotties could have more strength in numbers entering this season.
“The biggest thing for us is participation, making sure we are getting the kids out to play and not losing any,” Adams said. “It’s one of those things where kids growing up have different interests especially at a program such as Southmoreland, where it is one of the smallest programs in Class 3A. We don’t want to lose our numbers because low numbers will bite you on a Friday night. It makes it tough to compete, especially on those hot Friday nights early in the season.”
Adams is hoping to have more than 30 players on the team this season after having 26 on last year’s roster.
Part of his optimism starts with the leaders emerging in the locker room during summer workouts, including senior quarterback Jaden Datz, who Adams said has been vocal on getting players to come out. Ryan Mauro, Ronnie Robinson, Riley Comforti and Colt Harper are other players who stood out as leaders this summer.
Adams has enjoyed seeing players pushing each other in the weight room and being vocal during workouts.
“It’s been a test over the last couple of years to find it, because oftentimes at smaller programs, sometimes you’ll find that kids just want to be friends and don’t want to offend anyone,” Adams said. “You have to let them know that they’re not offending them. They are helping them out if everyone is on board.”
The Scotties have not had a winning season in 14 years, including a 1-8 mark last season, and haven’t made the playoffs since 1979. If they need a beacon to look to for how one season can erase a lot of difficult memories, they can find one across Westmoreland County with Derry’s breakout season a year ago that ended with a trip to the Class 3A semifinals.
Adams admired what Derry accomplished last year, but didn’t necessarily believe a team should need an example to get them motivated.
“Doing well, being competitive and making playoffs should be everyone’s goal every year,” Adams said. “If it’s not, then you’re in the wrong business. The fact that (Derry) was able to stay patient and keep it together for a period of time and get those kids to believe in what they were trying to implement, Coach Sweeney did a heck of a job. For each team though, being competitive should be the goal every year. I’ve always preached that from Day 1.
“We had a lot of young guys play last year, so it definitely helps us that they are coming back. It’s different for them. They are more relaxed. They know now what the pace of a Friday night game is going to be. It’s hard when you don’t have that experience. I think I’m speaking on every coach’s level that when you don’t have experience, it’s hard to be successful.”
The Scotties play in the Interstate Conference with Westmoreland County rivals Derry and Yough. They have a nonconference game against defending WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A champion Beaver Falls.
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.