So far it’s been run, shoot, win for Mustangs
ELLISTON — Although his composure remained more or less intact, Mark Poston clearly had lost all patience.
The Eastern Montgomery High School football coach was addressing his undefeated team the other day. Practice was ending. Naturally, the coach’s remarks centered on football.
Don’t misunderstand, though. The topic was not proper execution of a series of reads on a well-executed pass play.
Rather, he had little good to say about college football, particularly the recent thriller between host Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Nothing against either of the participants in the nationally-televised spectacle or college football in general, you understand.
Poston’s concern, voiced eloquently to the troops, was this:
If they ever again stayed up late either to attend or watch on TV a ballgame then chose to dissect that and other matters via Facebook and Twitter on into the night, beware. Don’t dare come to Mustangs practice the next day and sleepwalk through the proceedings. Consequences would be dire.
Without going into detail, let’s just say the coach assured the multitude consequences included no walking.
“This practice is over,” Poston said gravely. “You are going to run your sprints. Then I am going to go home.”
Later, one of the guys was asked if the coach’s concerns were well-founded.
“Everybody was mentally tired and just wanted to go home,” sophomore wide receiver Ron Ford said. “But you just gotta keep going, keep pushing through. You have to do everything you can do to get better.”
That calls for leadership. What have you got, quarterback James Fields?
“Go to every individual, maybe get their spirits up but make sure they know that every minute of every practice counts.”
You get the practice-what-they-preach vibe from the senior Fields and his emerging star of a passing target Ford. They are two of the reasons the Mustangs, 3-7 last year, have opened with a 27-21 victory at 2011 playoff team Bath County and 42-32 last week against improving Narrows.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Fields, who took over as full-time signal caller this year after dividing duties last season with Troy Rucker, so far has 47 completions in 71 attempts (66.1 percent) for 580 yards , six touchdowns, and only one interception.
As for Ford, he has 16 receptions for 241 yards and three TD’s. For math enthusiasts, that amounts to 15.06 yards per catch.
Others have done their part as well. In general, EastMont has been getting it done .
Therein was the crux of the coach’s distress the other day. Players have been doing good work this summer and into the season. That’s how they got to 2-0 and looked good doing it. However, those good deeds weren’t worth a two-day-old warmed-over bowl of pinto beans when it came to having the kind of stinker of a workout he’d just witnessed.
Not with Galax coming up Friday. Last year’s state Group A Division 1 runners-up are coming off a 34-14 bashing at the hands of resurgent Floyd County. The 1-1 Maroon Tide will not be in cheerful spirits upon arrival in Elliston in advance of Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff.
Be assured it’s not been a happy week of practice for Galax’s players this week. Tide coach Mark Dixon has a similar toleration for the less-than-perfect as Poston does.
This is an intriguing matchup between each of the last two state D1 runners-up. It’s going to be the Tide’s I-formation power vs. EastMont’s run-and-shoot.
Until that practice earlier this week, Poston has liked what he’s seen from his guys. They’ve been diligent in their labors, going to no less that 10 seven-on-seven offseason competitions in addition to the usual weight room and conditioning stuff.
The physical fitness is going to pay off because the run and shoot is designed to go faster than defensive players can think. No huddle, more motion than the Moscow Ballet, more reading than a Tolstoy novel – defending this offense is one long celebration of heartburn.
“It’s nice to be able to throw the ball again,” said Poston, whose 2010 offense help put triggerman Shawn Christian’s name on that year’s Timesland Athlete of the Year prize.
Nobody’s throwing around idle comparisons between Fields and Christian, but there’s no doubt the incumbent is off to a roaring start.
“The wide receivers, the running backs, the offensive line – everybody’s doing their jobs well,” Fields said. “I’m getting the time to throw. It shows how hard the linemen have been working.”
Fields transferred in from Three Rivers District rival Glenvar before junior season. He’s been a dedicated Mustang ever since. In addition to going through the same offseason routines as his teammates he also attended camps at both Tech and Virginia.
As for Ford, he was a freshman trying to make a name a year ago.
“It was just a learning experience and a time to fight for my position for the next year, and a time to get better,” said Ford, who cracked the starting lineup for the last half of the season.”
EastMont has a long way to go. After Galax, the Mustangs go to Covington and Radford and are home to Floyd County in the following four weeks. Along with on the Tide, that’s three 2011 playoff teams and the Buffaloes, who just laid a 20-point whipping on Galax.
The fun could just be getting started.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1672
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