The Ellender football team had a rough 2018 season.
Coach David McCormick said all 10 games somewhat blended together into one common script.
The Patriots would start fast and compete well — running with opponents stride-for-stride early in games.
But in the second half started and with it came fatigue, a loss of focus and often, a loss on the scoreboard. The Patriots won just 2 of 10 games and were outside of the Class 4A State Playoffs.
So this fall, the focus in Patriots Land is simple — finish the fight and win some of the close ones that historically have gotten away.
McCormick said the Patriots are hungry and focused with the 2019 season right around the corner. He said the team’s working hard to be conditioned and ready — better equipped to handle the challenges of the 10-game season ahead.
“I think the kids have had a great summer,” McCormick said at Tri-Parish Media Day. “I think we’re stronger, in better condition and have the right attitude in our locker room right now.”
The Patriots hope to win games at the line of scrimmage — something they haven’t always done.
Last year, the Patriots were brutally young up front and, at times, it showed. The team struggled to consistently generate the push it needed to control the line of scrimmage.
But McCormick said he has the vast majority of his offensive line back this season, which he thinks will be a difference maker for the team.
McCormick said linemen are “different creatures,” adding that the added chemistry will be great for the Patriots up front.
“Offensive linemen are a little different, you know? They’re kind of weird guys sometimes. They’re not like the other guys in the locker room. They have some of that fraternity amongst themselves and that camaraderie,” McCormick said. “I think having those guys back will give us a little bit of that swagger and that chemistry that we need there. I think those guys have had a great offseason.”
If the blocking is on point, Ellender, most assuredly, will have skill.
The Patriots receiver Hunter Parfait, halfback Tyshaun Hester and others.
One guy also generating attention is freshman receiver Tamaj Vergin, who is expected to make early impacts.
“We like our speed. We think we have guys who can make plays for us,” McCormick said.
Defensively, the Patriots know they have to be better than they were last year — a unit that often surrendered big plays in the second halves of games.
But McCormick said those concerns, he believes, will be rectified because of the work the team had done in the offseason to get in shape and be bigger, faster and stronger.
The Patriots don’t have a large roster. But McCormick said that just means that this year’s team is more tight-knit than ever.
The Patriots open the season Thomas Jefferson, then they play Terrebonne.
McCormick said it’s important for his team to get off to a quick start to the year.
“That first one is big for us,” McCormick said. “We want to get some steam early and get working down hill. Of course, we have Terrebonne in Week 2 and look, we were right with them last year until the second half. So we know we have the kids to do it. It’s important for us to get off to that quick start to show them the results of all the hard work they’ve put in.”