One of the staples of the Heritage experience is about to kick off again this year. Yes, it’s time for high school football again. It’s an exciting new year for the Heroes, and some big changes have come to the team. The most obvious one is the move to eleven-man football. As our football program has dominated the league since 2009, the coaches have decided to move to a different format, for a different challenge and different opportunities.
To get an idea of what’s going on with the program, the Gazette talked with Heritage head coach Pete Roberts to get the scoop on the team. Coach Roberts explained, “It’s not necessarily a step up. It’s a lateral move. The good thing is it provides a bigger stage for the kids to play.” This all sounds good. In most schools, eleven-man football is considered the real game, and eight-man is a step down, so this move is a step forward for the program. There are downsides though, as the number of players needed to field a full varsity team goes up significantly. This means that in the CAA, the league Heritage plays in, most schools are unable to field a JV team. Because of this, a JV format does not exist in the league, leaving many younger guys without an opportunity to get real game experience. Heritage is looking to fix this for its players by having informal freshman/sophomore games before the actual varsity games.
While the team has to look to the future in order to be successful, the players who start this season also need to be prepared. When asked about how the team would manage without the seniors that graduated last year, Coach Roberts said this of his players: “Every year we lose really good seniors, and every year the players that replace them always doubt themselves and their inability to perform as well as the previous year. The outgoing seniors also feel the same way, that there’s no way we can do it without them, and every year the incoming seniors, or the new leaders to the team, step up their game and everyone steps up to another level and are able to perform at the level.” This year there’s no doubt that the new starters and those coming into the team are up to the task. They will become a team that will make the school proud.