Over the summer while every other varsity football program in the area was working together to help create a single, cohesive unit, the Missouri Military Academy had less than a dozen guys on hand.
Because even that number had some fluctuation to it, the Colonels couldn't do much in the way of on-field drills. That only left the weight room, and why the school always made sure the facilities were available at the scheduled dates and times, none of the above is the least it conducive to reaching the high-minded goals set for this program by head coach Mitchell Jenkins and his staff.
"I don't feel we met expectations. Coming off a strong 2016, we felt we would be poised for a breakout season," Jenkins said. "We, as coaches, must find a way this off-season to get us back on the track we want to go."
This season MMA had a record of 1-9 overall. This included getting eliminated from the playoffs last week in the first round of districts at Blair Oaks 52-0. It also comes after going 4-5 overall last year. The last time the Colonels were in the playoffs they forfeited to Centralia in 2015. The squad then decided not to compete in last seasons championship tournament in order to try and take the time to become a little more competitive.
"On offense, junior Sky Henio was the only player to start all 10 games on the offensive line. Sophomore Forrest Drummond provided a threat from his tailback position, rushing for 200 yards and receiving almost 400 in 7 games, while adding four scores," said Jenkins. "Seniors Pedro De Rocha and Vernon Leech stabilized the quarterback and wing back positions during the mid season, and showed great senior leadership."
For the athletes, opportunities for playing time were abound. That was both a blessing and a curse for the team, though, because, while the circumstances did garner some positive results, Jenkins and his staff would have definitely preferred to have greater continuity instead of constantly rotating the next man in to fill a void created by injury.
"On defense, both Leech and Drummond stood out, as well as Sophmore WrayVous Givens, who started all 10 games in various spots on the defense," Jenkins said. "We will be losing Charlie Norman, a three year starter on the offensive line, as well as a two way starter Leech."
When it comes to offseason training, some coaches encourage athletes to compete in other activities and Jenkins is among them. That's because, not only will sports like wrestling and lacrosse keep these players in prime physical condition, but the opportunity for these athletes to once again compete side-by-side under very different circumstances is one the Colonels are hoping to use to their advantage.
"I don't feel sharing athletes is a problem, I think its a strength, and I've encouraged our athletes to pick up at least one more sport. Playing multiple sports keeps student athletes engaged, competitive and can only help all programs in the long term," said Jenkins. "Our off-season training will start after Thanksgiving with our lifting program. We have a new strength and conditioning coach on campus, and I'm excited to see what he can do for our program."