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Mt. Zion football eyes big year

Matthias Adams runs the football while avoiding the defense in Mt. Zion’s Red and White Night on August 20.

By Blake Faith
Staff Writer

Every year the Mt. Zion Football team’s goal is to win the Apollo Conference and make the playoffs. Head coach Patrick Etherton said that this year is the exact same.

Coach Etherton and his team are ready for the somewhat regular season. It has been two years since football has been played in the fall and Coach Etherton said that it’s good for the kids and good for the team.

Coach Etherton praised his upperclassman for their work during the off-season. He said they did a great job all summer of leading by example with their hard work ethic. When the season starts, the expectation doesn’t change.

“When we get to the season, we expect those guys to be leaders on the field,” Coach Etherton said. “And a lot of those guys are some of our starters. We expect those guys to lead the way and show our kids how to do it and how to play football the right way in Mount Zion and the way that we’ve done it for years.”

Coach Etherton expects big things from his senior wide-receiver and defensive back Christian Keynes. Keyhea has numerous college offers including being recruited by Eastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois.

The offensive guys Coach Etherton also expects big things out of are senior running backs Matthias Adams and Zach Girard. Wide-receivers expected to make an impact alongside Keyhea are Grant McAtee, Chiren Petty, Ethan Hamrick and Mason McNeil at tight end.

Up front Coach Etherton expects his linemen to lead the charge as they’re the most experienced and veteran group as well as enormous people.

He expects them to set the tone for everything. Defensively, Keyhea and Hamrick will play big roles in the secondary along with linebacker Ryan Buttz and Girard.

Buttz was interviewed for this article. Individually he worked on getting quicker with his footwork by doing ladders and different drills. His goals are to continue to get better and get different college offers to continue his football career. As a leader, he wants to be the guy that people look up to.

“I just want to be just that guy on and off the field to the younger guys and all the people that look up to me,” Buttz said. “I just want to set a good example for them with my work ethic and just having a good time and playing football.”

The race for starting quarterback is between two sophomores in Makobi Adams and Tyson Evans. That decision will be made this week prior to the first game after evaluation of the Red and White Scrimmage results and practice results.

This off-season Coach Etherton said the team worked on getting bigger, faster and stronger, but also figuring out what his teams’ identity is. The team lost their quarterback and other senior playmakers due to graduation.

“So now it’s trying to figure out who our playmakers are,” Coach Etherton said. And then what is the identity of our team as well as what we are going to do. And then, taking what we call our camp up until w e get to game week and using that to kind of experiment with some kids around and then see how they do.”

Every year Coach Etherton said the goal is to win the Apollo Conference and make the playoffs. The other goal is to go undefeated on their home field. If that happens, Coach Etherton believes the rest will take care of itself.

Coach Etherton’s overall message to the readers and community is that he has a great group of kids that are going to work hard.

“We’re excited to be back to normal,” Coach Etherton said. “The normal stands and we look forward to seeing big crowds and the community show their support to our players. Our kids are going to do their best and work hard and it should be a lot of fun.”

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