NEWPORT — Football — or any sport, for that matter — is no fun when you’re losing, so it’s safe to say Nokomis didn’t have much to celebrate during a winless 2010 campaign.
But coach Haggie Pratt and the Warriors are eager to turn a new page in 2011, and the fifth-year head coach has liked what he’s seen in camp.
“This seems like a complete turnaround in attitude this year,” Pratt said. “I’ve got 43 kids out for football and that’s a big turnaround from last year.”
It’s certainly an impressive numbers jump, as the Warriors only had 30 players dressed in Nokomis colors last fall, while Pratt also has 15 freshmen in camp.
“Athletically, I really believe we can do it,” Pratt said. “The kids have got to see the positive in things they can do. They’ve got to believe how good we really are.”
Among Pratt’s seven returning starters are quarterback Nate Michaud, wingback-split end Cody Pelletier, tailback Austin Chipman and two-way linemen Caleb Vanadestine and Matt Girrior, all seniors. They were among the crew who led the charge in the weight room this offseason.
“We’ve got some kids who went at it pretty seriously,” Pratt said. “It started in February trying to develop an attitude in the weight room. I’ve got some kids that worked very hard on their squat and their bench press and the core lifts we had.”
Michaud will be counted upon to lead a Nokomis offense that should be wide-open.
“We’re going to try to be 50-50 running the football and passing,” Pratt said. “We’re going to be a multiple-formation team.”
The Warriors will be hoping to utilize their athleticism offensively, along with the depth they didn’t have last year.
“I think we’ve got some decent speed,” Pratt said. “We’ve got maybe three tailbacks who can start for us. Our job is to get those guys a fair amount of carries each and keep everybody fresh.”
The biggest key, Pratt said, will be on defense, an area in which the Warriors struggled last season.
“We just need to play and execute better defensively,” he said. “We’ve got more bigger kids this year so we’re going to play more of a 50 defense.”
The landscape in Class B is certainly a new this season, with the additions of Brewer, Mt. Blue of Farmington, Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston and Old Town, but that also equals more competition for one of the coveted eight playoff positions.
“I like our schedule, I think there’s some good competition on the schedule for us,” Pratt said.
But in the grand scheme of things, the Warriors’ players have only one thing in mind.
“They don’t want to lose any more,” Pratt said.
2010 results: 0-8
Head Coach: Haggie Pratt, 5th year
Key players: Josh Philbrook, C-DT, Jr.; Caleb Vanadestine, OT-DT, Sr.; Matt Girrior, G-LB, Sr.; Nate Michaud, QB, Sr.; Cody Pelletier, WB-SE, Sr.; Austin Chipman, FB-TB-S, Sr.;
Outlook: The Warriors have nowhere to go but up after failing to win a game in 2010. Pratt believes one of the big keys for Nokomis will be finishing games in the fourth quarter, an area in which the Warriors struggled last fall. Look for Nokomis to contend for one of the eight playoff positions in Class B.