The seasons prior to 2019 were incredibly important to Missouri Military Academy Varsity Football Coach Mitchell Jenkins and the rest of the Fighting Colonels coaching staff and players.
That was when the groundwork was laid for what comes next. Then came this summer, which is when Jenkins and his crew did their fine-tuning. Now, even though the group is still preparing itself for what lies ahead, based on the resources they've already been drawing from and will continue to rely upon, the outlook is brighter than it has been for MMA coming into this current season than it has been in recent memory.
Presently the upcoming season grows a little closer with each passing day, and right now the Colonels are embracing that challenge. This years team isn't looking at last years results and instead are hoping to write their own legacy that they want to start right here, right now.
"I feel we've turned a corner. We have support from all corners of our program (Administration, parents, players, community), and many of the questions we've had going into the summer have been answered, at least, we hope, have been answered," Jenkins said. "I look forward to being back out on the field with our team."
One thing that makes MMA unique is that it doesn't have any other varsity sports during the fall semester so the football team is not in competition internally for the best athletes. Instead, any Fighting Colonel looking to compete in athletics that has the appropriate grades is welcome to try out. Another unique factor surrounding MMA is that, as a boarding school, none of the students live there during the summer. That means they all have to make special trips to participate in off-season programs.
"We have had multiple 7-on-7 events at MMA and Monroe City, as well as a tournament at St.Dominic in O'Fallon, Mo.," said Jenkins. "We have grown every week, and our players have shown improvement. My coordinators, Tony Yannielli (passing game coordinator) and Ben Burnett (Defensive Coordinator) have worked tirelessly all summer with these kids, and we are much improved heading into our team camp at the end of the month."
Even in the face of the various limitations Jenkins faces annually he still works on a tireless basis to have a productive summer. That generally means lots of scheduling with numerous young athletes and their parents throughout June, July and August. Even though adjusting to the ever-changing vacation schedule of four or five dozen teenagers and their families might seem like the stuff nightmares are made of, Jenkins handles it with a smile.
"We've had a fantastic summer," Jenkins said. "We've been blessed with the strong support of our administration to get our athletes who are currently on campus (summer academy/leadership camp) to football activities and have a wonderful group of parents who drive their son's back to MMA two to three times a week for workouts. Entering my fourth season as Head Coach at MMA, I've been fortunate to meet some outstanding coaches in the area, and we all work well together."
Because of these relationships, the Colonels have been able to schedule multiple 7-on-7 events this summer. Opponents have included North Callaway, Louisiana, Bowling Green, Fulton and Monroe City, all of which found themselves against a strong core of experienced individuals who should lead this team to brighter ways and better days this season.
"Our program is blessed with a strong core of returning upper class men like Wrayvuze Givens, Jaden Roggee, Tro Cunningham and Ayden Garcia, who really lead the charge in recruiting their own teammates back to campus to work out," said Jenkins.
In 2018 MMA finished with a record of 0-10 overall, ending the campaign in the playoffs at Monroe City with a 52-0 defeat.