MHS Is All About Team
By JOE SMITH
MORGANTOWN — As the early morning heat bore down on Pony Lewis Field at Morgantown High School, Coach Matt Lacy led the Mohigans through an exercise in discipline and conditioning.
The MHS squad was running 40-yard sprints, but there was a catch involved — the players were in stances, and a football cadence was being yelled out. The players, similar to many offensive plays, were told to move on the count of two. According to senior Nick Malone, many on the team were struggling.
“We were going on two, and some people just kept false starting,” he said. “Instead of yelling, we tried to just be encouraging. After that it came together.”
Malone said that he and his fellow teammates view such actions as important to the long-term success of the team. If you can’t keep the right outlook when things get tough, you’re not going to make it far in football.
“We’re encouraging and we don’t try to put anyone down. That’s the key to winning football games. You have to stay positive when you’re down,” he said.
As Lacy tells it, leadership and encouragement, especially amongst the team’s upperclassmen, is a theme in the locker room heading into the 2018 campaign. It’s one that Lacy and his assistants have drilled into their athletes many times.
“We tell them that we will only go as far as they will take us. We can do all the Xs and Os on the chalkboard, but they have to be able to lead from within,” Lacy said. “The coaches can’t rah-rah it all the time.
“Yeah, we’ll get on them when their play is bad, but we talked to them and said, ‘we need to get to the point where if we do something wrong in practice, the senior leaders have to step up and say, ‘Coach, run that play again.’ ‘ That’s when we can get to being a really good football team.”
For the Mohigans, it’s not just one or two players picking up on the message and stepping up to lead. It’s prominent across the senior class that is expected to lead to team as the season kicks off tonight.
“It’s hard to pinpoint just one of these seniors because they’re such a tight-knit group of guys. Nick Malone, Jesthon Moore, Ty Konchesky, Garrett Colton, Aaron Alvarez … all of those guys do things right,” Lacy said.
“Just the other day in practice, one of our seniors was taking one of the younger players, without any prompting from the coaches, and was explaining how to do things while we were going over plays. He would step in the huddle every time with the younger players and was coaching the younger guys on how to do things.”
Lacy views this kind of help from leaders on the squad to be critical to finding success on the field.
“That’s what it takes. Sometimes coaches focus on the big picture. Having those seniors that will help and coach the finer points that we like to touch upon, that’s when we can do phenomenal things.”
Lacy has seen such attitudes in the locker room before, in his first year as a head coach at MHS. The year ended well, with a trip to the Class AAA state semifinals. The group that enters their senior year now were just sophomores at the time, and now look to take what they learned from their predecessors and master it.
In the past few years, the seniors above us have shown that leadership quality, but I think this year my class, after learning from those before us, that we can do a little bit better,” Malone said.
MHS will kick off its season in big fashion, playing host to Parkersburg tonight in the WVSSAC Kickoff Game. The contest is at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on WVMetroNews.com and AT&T SportsNet.
With a strong group of senior leaders returning from a 2017 playoff campaign, Lacy has high expectations resting on his unit.
“I think everybody’s goal at this point is to win a state championship. That’s why you play — to win football games. Yes we want to have fun and teach these guys to be great men, but ultimately they turn the scoreboard on, they keep score, and we want to be on the winning end of most of those,” he said.
Aug. 23: Parkersburg 7 p.m.
Aug. 31: at Steubenville 7 p.m.
Sept. 7: at Fort Hill, Md. 7 p.m.
Sept. 14: at Brooke 7 p.m.
Sept. 21: Linsly 7 p.m.
Sept. 28: Musselman 7 p.m.
Oct. 5: at Wheeling Park 7 p.m.
Oct. 12: at Pksbg. South 7 p.m.
Oct. 19: John Marshall 7 p.m.
Oct. 26: University 7 p.m.
Win 3, Lose 7
Aaron Alvarez, Peter Biafore, Cody Calvert, Garrett Culton, Matteo Darmelio, Tanner Davis, Nick DeFelice, Charles Hairston, Lamar Haskins, Nick Malone, Jestohn Moore, Ty Konchesky, Luke Milne, Nathaniel Riffon, Kaden Rice, Christian Sedney, Benjamin Turner, Jaden Wolfley.
Christian Burke, Thomas Carter, Hunter Finn, Bennett Fletcher, Preston Fox, Peyton Giles, Quinn Golden, Connor Kelly, Marcellus Marshall, Linh Nguyen, Thomas Spencer, Quinn Thompson, Jace Whetsell, Tyler Wilson, Jackson Wolfe, Tyler Yost.
Rashad Alton, Kirk Black, Calvin Blunt, Clifford Carpenter, Deondre Crudup, Colton Duley, Malik Hall, Shelby Lawson, Benjamin Long, Logan Lucas, John McConnell, Logan McDonald, Liam Murphey, Yohan Nenehi, Brooks Pirrong, Jack Powell, Ethan Rhodes, Kenneth Okai, Cameron Rice, Guy Southerly, Joseph Thompson, Danny White, Khalil White.