For the Albemarle Patriots, camp has been about much more than running drills and getting into football shape. They're working on changing the culture of their program. Senior Linebacker Eli Mackay says, "it's going to be tough, but I think with the young talent we have,
with their commitment to the team and the program, I think we'll have
pretty good chances."
Third year head coach Mike Alley wants to emphasize the principles team, commitment, and character. To help with that, he organized an off-season character workshop. "We had 56 players show up and we had an outside coach come run it for us," he says. "Our kids have really picked up on that, and come up with their own creed."
Alley even brought in a navy seal to speak at camp and deliver a message. Senior wide receiver A.J. Willy said the message was about commitment to the team. "No matter how tough the times are, no matter what you're going through, you have to pick up your teammates and help them through."
As they work to change the culture, Alley and his players say the
makeup and mindset of the team are already very different from last
year's squad that won only two games. "One thing that we do have this year that we've missed is depth. We have some kids that were really competing at positions which we haven't had in the last two seasons," said Alley. Senior running back Niko Troche adds, "it's very exciting to be back and have a team that wants to win and wants to play."
The Patriots new culture will be put to the test early. Their first
two games are against cross-town rivals who made the playoffs last
year. They'll open up at Western Albemarle, and then follow that up
with another tough test when they host Monticello on August 31.