The Council Rock North Indians, led by the team's 19 seniors enters the 2012 season with their sights set high. For the latest SOL football news, follow us on Twitter @SOL1FB.
Ask Nate English, Bobby Bartlett and Bill Foote what it was like to be part of a varsity squad that won just one game when they were sophomores, and the Council Rock North seniors have an immediate response.
“Horrible, humiliating,” English said.
“Awful, just awful,” Foote added.
“It was really tough,” Bartlett said.
Nothing could have prepared the then sophomores for such a rude awakening. After all, their middle school and freshman teams had lost just two games in three years, and their freshman team had won a title while rolling to an undefeated season.
“Coming up the next year and going 1-9 was like hitting a wall,” Foote said.
Success on the freshman level, according to coach Adam Collachi, doesn’t always translate into success on the varsity level.
“You think it’s going to carry over to the varsity, but it’s a whole different ballgame playing in the Suburban One National Conference where you have the Abingtons, the Council Rocks, the Pennsburys and Neshaminys,” Collachi said. “There’s never a week off. It’s the pedal to the metal the whole time.
“There were a lot of growing pains. We threw a lot of first-year guys out there, and they took their licks, but give them credit”
The Indians rebounded from their 1-9 season to compile a 5-5 record last year, and two years after their team’s one-win season, the seniors admit they had some doubts that first year on varsity when half price appetizers at Applebee’s were the best they could do to ease the pain after a tough Friday night loss.
“We lost eight straight games to start the season,” English said. “It was brutal.”
“I remember thinking ‘What am I doing here? Why are we here? Is this ever going to change?’” Foote added.
Did quitting ever cross their minds?
“You definitely thought about how much easier it would be on yourself if you did and how much nicer life might be,” Bartlett said. “School was the worst.
“You have these kids that don’t even know what you’re going through, don’t know how hard you’re working, and they’re making fun of you. You look up in the stands during games, and no one is there. You just feel awful.”
It might well have been the camaraderie this year’s senior class shares that kept them on course, and according to Collachi, it is the intangibles that set the seniors apart.
“They all hang out with each other,” the Indians’ coach said. “You can’t walk the hallways of school and not see some of them together.
“Not only are they teammates, they’re really good friends, and that comes across all the time. It’s invaluable. They’re almost like a brotherhood. They make sure they have each other’s backs, they make sure they push each other, and there’s a lot of resiliency in this group.”
The players had an idea that the tide was turning when they blocked a late-game field goal to escape with a 20-19 win over Haverford in their season opener last year.
“I’ll never forget that game,” Foote said.
“It was definitely one week when we weren’t get made fun of,” Bartlett said. “It really set the tone for the whole season. Getting off on the right foot was huge.”
While the win over the Fords was significant, it was the Indians’ stunning 17-14 upset of perennial powerhouse Neshaminy on Oct. 6 that suggested Rock North’s turnaround was officially underway.
“That comeback win was probably the turning point for everybody because we were like, ‘We can hang with almost anyone in the league if we can pull this off,’” Foote said. “We weren’t supposed to win that game at all. We were supposed to get blown out.”
The win over Neshaminy was the program’s first over the Redskins since the school split.
“I really think last year’s senior class was the glue that forged the bond,” Collachi said. “Guys like (Steve) Sroba, (A.J.)Garboski and the Yardleys and McAlisters of the world – they took the reins last year and showed these guys how to lead and showed them what it takes to work hard in the offseason, and these guys totally embraced it moving forward this year.”
Motivated by their improvement of last season, the players – led by this year’s seniors - entered the offseason with a renewed sense of urgency.
“It was a lot of intense work – a lot of lifting and conditioning,” Foote said. “We’re still going hard with the conditioning. We had two-a-days, and that’s the first time we’ve done that.”
“It was definitely the hardest we have worked going into a season,” Bartlett said. “It’s not just a couple of people. The whole team is working hard, and the whole team has the same goal.”
Those goals are decidedly high this season as the Indians hope to take that next step.
“We want to beat quality teams, beat the Pennsburys, beat the Neshaminys,” English said. “We want to be put with those team.”
“Everybody talks about the great teams,” Bartlett said. “We want to be put with the great teams. We think it’s our turn.”
“This is a big year,” English said. “We have high expectations.
“I can’t wait for the season opener. We’ve been waiting all summer.”
The season begins on Friday when the Indians will travel to Haverford.