THORNDIKE — Armed with 14 seniors, the Mount View football team will field the most experienced roster of its five-year varsity history this fall.
And that’s good news for coach Jack Brady as he seeks to guide the Mustangs to an LTC Class C playoff berth.
“It makes an incredible difference,” said Brady, whose 2010 squad included just seven seniors. “These seniors have played football for me for their whole high school careers, and they are the kids who have totally bought into the program. We’ve had some great kids here and good leadership, but it still isn’t the same as having kids who have come up through with you because they understand what you’re looking for all the time and how things ought to be.”
As for those elder statesmen among the Mustangs there’s the belief familiarity will lead to success, and they say it already has been beneficial even before the team’s season opener Saturday at Larrabee Field in Knox against defending Eastern Maine champion Stearns of Millinocket.
“There’s definitely a lot more senior leadership here,” said Craig Nealley, a senior running back and linebacker. “We’ve lacked that in the past, but now having all the seniors that we do everybody’s on the same page ready to play. It definitely makes things easier.”
The Mustangs hope that chemistry among the veterans and the support of some experienced underclassmen also will lead to victory on the field.
“Me and my buddies, all of us play football and we’ve been talking about our senior year since we were freshmen,” said Mike Robinson, an offensive guard and linebacker. “We knew this was going to be our big year, and now we’re going out and just playing as hard as we can.”
Mount View is coming off a 20-14 exhibition loss to Class B Belfast, a team that handled the Mustangs 48-6 in their preseason meeting a year ago.
“I don’t mind losing when we play as hard as we can,” said senior quarterback and defensive end Jay Babin, “The past few years it just doesn’t seem like we’ve been putting forth our best effort all the time, but in our exhibition games this year it felt good to be out there playing the way we did.”
Mount View sports a 40-player high school roster, including 10 freshmen.
“We certainly can’t two-platoon because we don’t have that many kids,” said Brady, “but we have a lot more kids who are playing just one way. That takes some of the pressure off them, it takes a lot of the pressure off us, and makes it a lot easier to get through a game.”
Participation at the younger levels among pupils from the many small communities that feed into Mount View also is strong. More than 30 seventh- and eighth-graders are playing at the middle-school level, Brady said, suggesting a solid football future at the high school.
But for all involved with this year’s varsity squad, there’s no better way to further motivate that next generation of Mustangs than to transform resolve into results — now.
“We need to win a few more football games,” said Brady. “It’s time for us to win some football games. We would like to make the playoffs this year, and we might have the kids to do that. We’ll find out.”
MOUNT VIEW MUSTANGS
2010 results: 1-7
Head coach: Jack Brady, 4th year
Key players: Jay Babin, QB-DE, Sr.; Ben Korman, OG-DT, Sr.; Craig Nealley, TB-ILB, Sr.; Mike Robinson, OG-ILB, Sr.; Ricky Moulton, OC-LB, Jr., Ryan St. Clair, FB-LB, Sr.
Outlook: A motivated nucleus of seniors would like to end their high school football careers in a playoff game, and there’s reason to believe that’s possible. A physical front line anchored by Moulton, a third-year starter, will fuel an aggressive running game sparked by Babin — who played fullback last fall — though Babin also is a capable passer. One big key for Mount View will be its ability defensively to deny opponents the big play. If the Mustangs can resolve that problem area from a year ago, they likely will be playing games with great meaning well into October.