Brayden Trimble goes up for the catch in the Mt. Zion Red and White Night scrimmage.
By BLAKE FAITH
The Mt. Zion Football team returns their potent offense and defensive starters in an aim to get back to the playoffs for the third straight year.
“It feels great to get back on the field for official practices,” Head coach Patrick Etherton said. “In high school nowadays, the amount of time we’re around our players in the summer’s a lot, which is good. You get used to being around them and doing stuff, but really once you’re out here and you’re starting to prep for opponents and you are starting to do things and you got everybody together and get the pads on and really start fine tuning for your season, it’s enjoyable and we got a great group of kids and they’re fun to be around and it’s a good atmosphere.”
The Braves main focus of improvement is putting players into successful positions and building upon that so far in the first couple weeks of practice.
“For us it’s just continuing to make sure we got the guys in the right spots and then it’s continuing to tweak stuff and stuff we’ve done and then how do we want to change it and what have we seen in our research in the offseason that we want to implement,” Coach Etherton said. “It really comes down to how we help our players be successful and how we put them in those chances.”
The Braves offensively return three-year starting quarterback Makobi Adams, wide-receivers Brayden Trimble, Grant McAtee and Jacob Harvey, tight end JC Anderson and running backs Jayger Damarin and Bryson Richardson. Defensively, Trimble, McAtee and Damarin will play both ways with also the return of Braves’ leading tackler Cameron Schroth. All are expected to have impacts for the Braves this season.
Adams is going into his first year as a co-captain of this Braves team which is an honor he doesn’t take lightly.
“It means a lot,” Adams said.” I get to lead this team and I have been a quarterback going into my third year here and this year we have a chance. I really think we have a chance to bring back our first conference title in the past four years. No one on the roster right now has one. Honestly, I think that’s really good motivation. I see us all working hard in practice. The captains, me, Schroth, Damarin and Grant (McAtee), make sure that they’re working hard every day, keeping them accountable. I think there’s a lot of good leadership going on around here.”
Adams’ individual goal on the season is to get 35 passing touchdowns and the team goal is to win a playoff game. Adams has two older brothers that have played in the program and he wants his lasting mark to be different from his brothers and players before him.
“There are obviously some players, you can have any school record, but I want to be a guy that everybody remembers and thinks about and that guy made my day brighter, made my football practice more fun, motivated me to become a better man, better football player, better teammate,” Adams said. I’d rather have that, because that means more than anything, any number you can put on a wall or anything like that.”
Damarin has taken his leadership role as leading the younger guys and building them up as players. Damarin’s individual goal is to make all-conference and all-state and to help carry his team in the playoffs is his team goal. He wants his last mark to be on the program as a good leader.
Schroth also has taken on his leadership role of helping build up the younger players. Schroth wants to have an all-state selection and team goal is to make the playoffs and make it further into the playoffs. Schroth wants his lasting mark to be his records and one day those records will be broken by other guys.
Coach Etherton said that his team consists of 18 seniors and that alone makes a huge difference when it comes to leadership.
As kids continue to mature, they continue to make positive choices and understand what it takes and it’s a whole different, being a freshman to a sophomore and sophomore junior and junior senior,” Coach Etherton said. “Once you’re a senior, everything starts to kind of click and you kind of start to feel it and understand what it takes to be successful and takes to win. And we have a bunch of kids that are motivated and will do what it takes to win.”
Coach Etherton’s season expectations for the Braves are to make the playoffs and have a chance to win the Apollo Conference championship. Coach Etherton’s overall message to readers and the community is this will be an exciting, great group of kids to watch that will work hard.
The Braves play Limestone at home this week at 7:30 p.m.