PHILIPPI, W.Va – It’s been four years without a winning season for the Philip-Barbour football program but steps are being taken to put an end to that, starting with things off the field.
As head coach Nick Mayle enters his second season at the helm of the program, some of the first moves he knew he had to make in his first calendar year on the job was to change the culture outside the lines before his team could play any better between them.
“That was a conscious effort to do that. Get them all playing on the same page. The talent has always been here but the attitude and the camaraderie hasn’t always been here,” he said, “Our first week, we stayed together, we called it ‘Camp Crucible,’ we stayed down at the local 4-H camp and that really brought us together as a team.”
The message the Colts coaching staff has been trying to impress seems to have rung true with the players as well.
The bond these young men have developed over the last few months is something typically unseen in previous years within the program and they believe it will have long-term benefits.
“We’re a band of brothers now. I’ve never been so close with the football team ever” senior lineman Kemper Longwell said, “Normally, there’s a rift in football teams between seniors and freshmen. They don’t hand out as much but I find myself hanging out with freshman all the time. We’re just different. We’re together.”
A big part of the success that Mayle has seen with this group coming together has to do with the veterans within the program taking leadership roles in a big way ahead of the upcoming season.
He feels that they know exactly what they need to do if they want to go out on a high note in their final seasons as Colts.
“For our seniors, the weight of this season is on them,” he said, “They know this is they’re last ride together and they’re really taking it serious, focused, putting in the effort. They’re working harder than they ever have before.”
Now that the off-the-field improvements are settled, the Colts turn their focus toward week one and it is certainly set to be a tantalizing matchup in week one.
For the first time in two years, Philip Barbour and Grafton will get the chance to face off on the gridiron. Part of the motivating factor for those upperclassmen going through fall camp has definitely been the sour taste left in their mouth from the last time they took on the Bearcats.
“I’m a senior and I’ve only gotten to play them one time and we lost so obviously, I’m coming back with some vengeance,” Longwell said, “All these other guys younger than us, they’ve never really played them other than in middle school and stuff but high school’s different and I think we’re ready for them.”
When you get right down to the nitty gritty though, its pretty easy to sum up the mindset it takes to win a rivalry game like this and the Colts think they have the right idea.
“We’re just going to war. That’s what it’s about. The 26th, we’re just going to war,” senior running back Deshawn Webster said.
Philip-Barbour is set to host Grafton at George Byrer Field on August 26.