Success is all in Boonsboro's heads

November 09, 2011|By MARK KELLER |

BOONSBORO — Perhaps it’s no surprise that the Boonsboro football team has enjoyed a complete turnaround from its disappointing 2010 season.

That turnaround was basically part of the players’ school curriculum.

Not long after the last school year ended in June, Boonsboro’s returning players were — in a sense — hitting the books in an effort to put a 2-8 season well behind them.

“We knew what it was like to lose,” said quarterback Ryan Ruiz. “It was a frustrating year and we didn’t want to have another year like that.”

The offseason work paid huge dividends for the Warriors, who won their first eight games and finished 9-1 to find their way back to the Maryland Class 1A West playoffs after a one-year absence.

The Warriors earned the No. 2 seed in the region and will host third-seeded Mountain Ridge (9-1) in the 1A West semifinals Friday at 7 p.m.

“We started our summer conditioning in June and with that had some classroom sessions,” Boonsboro coach Clayton Anders said. “Like 30 minutes each, offense and defense. We have some pretty smart kids academically this year and some kids with real good football IQs. So the mental part wasn’t as much of a roadblock for us this year as last year.”

Given the changes that Boonsboro made for the 2011 season, a smarter team was a necessity. The Warriors installed a no-huddle offense that forced everyone — including the coaches — to think a little more quickly.

“That’s one of the incidental byproducts of that change: The increased focus,” Anders said. “That translates to the defensive side also. You have to have a higher level of focus.”

While the offense itself hasn’t changed much — the Warriors still run the wing-T — the tempo has been ratcheted up several notches.

And that’s just fine with the players, at least now. An increase in tempo meant an increase in the level of conditioning they had to go through over the summer and every Monday since.

“We ran a lot this summer,” said running back Zach Poffenberger, drawing a laugh from Anders. “A lot.”

“It was pretty intense over the summer,” Anders said. “Monday is a big conditioning day, and then it kind of tapers down through the week. But on Monday, you’d better be ready to run.”

The players see the benefits, both in their own physical condition and in the edge that it gives them over their opponents.

“We get lined up and ready to run a play and the defense is scrambling to line up,” tight end Aaron Turner said. “We’ve made teams take a lot of time outs.”

It’s also helped in preparing players to step into different roles when situations or injuries dictate.

With only 30 players on the roster, most of Boonsboro’s starters are two-way players. So when J.T. Rice was ruled out of last week’s regular-season finale against Smithsburg, Anders had to shuffle other people into Rice’s many different roles.

“Zach stepped into J.T.’s spot on offense and did really well, but (Zach) is full-time defense, too,” Anders said. “And Rice kicks, he punts, he returns kicks and punts. That’s a lot of player shuffling.”

Wednesday was the first day that Rice was cleared for practice after suffering a concussion two weeks ago against North Hagerstown. Anders said running back Justin Jardeleza is still day-to-day with an ailing shoulder.

But Anders is confident that the players he puts on the field Friday night will produce because of the work they’ve already put in.

“This is one of our smallest teams in every way, in numbers and in stature,” Anders said. “We don’t have many kids, but they are in shape and they are strong for their size. There are no real superstars, but they’re way better together than as individuals.”

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