The life of a boarding school football coach often means your athletes spend their offseason anywhere but on campus.
Because of this the Missouri Military Academy varsity began 2017 in a minor state of flux that it's just now working past and certainly didn't do it any favors last Friday at home during its 42-36 loss to Slater.
"We had some turnovers. We also came out a little flatter in the second half. I don't think we were out of gas because our guys kept running hard," said coach Mitchell Jenkins. "All the credit goes to Slater because they just kept running right at us three or four yards at a time and we couldn't get a stop when we needed it."
Because they went into halftime leading 22-20, one difference for the Fighting Colonels came when they were outscored 8-0 in the third to end up trailing by six. Both teams then scored 14 points each in the fourth for what amounted to MMA's closest game of the season.
"We had a breakout game offensively. Our quarterback, Pedro De Rosa, this was his second game playing that position for us and his fourth game of football ever," Jenkins said. "His decision-making was fantastic. We were able to run the ball and throw it. We're finally getting to a place where we can consistently move the ball. We're also tackling better. This was the first game everybody on our roster was eligible to play in because of the number of practices and guys arriving late."
In the three weeks that preceded this game the Colonel's had just one touchdown and had allowed 125 points. This week the team had almost 200 rushing yards and close to another 175 yards through the air, a turn of fate Principia won't be happy to hear about considering that's where MMA's next game is at on Friday at 7 p.m.
"We are starting to see what we might have during the second half of our season. We had three running backs run for over 45 yards, which is pretty fantastic," said Jenkins. "Matt Thibodeau is a junior who has really stepped up and taken ownership of this offense. He's our grinder. He probably won't bust one for 40 yards. He gets his yards four and five at a time and that's what he did."
As for that trio of running backs for MMA, Thibodeau came through from the fullback position with 51 rushing yards on 13 carries. Mexico senior Styles Fountain also ran for 59 yards and racked up 65 receiving yards and sophomore Forrest Drummond added 57 yards on the ground and 85 by air.
"Right now we've got to find a way to get a win. Our kids have worked so hard the past few weeks. They're hungry for it, and we're just kind of grinding through," Jenkins said. "Things are going to turn around eventually as long as we keep moving forward. The kids are still buying in and believe in what we're doing. I've been with these kids for five years now. I try and be positive and enthusiastic. The energy has to come from the coaches or it trickles down to our kids and rains over them."