August 12, 2011
The Albemarle football team returns to the gridiron with confidence and determination in 2011. With a smaller learning curve in head coach Mike Alley's second season, the Patriots feel more comfortable and ready to compete.
While last year's three wins were satisfactory for a new starting lineup and playbook, this year the goal is playoffs.
"Coach has really turned us around the past two years and we're steadily working our way up, said senior wide receiver Tim Aker. "With all our returners and Coach Alley, we can have a good season just because of the experience level."
"We just have to remain confident in our abilities and what we're doing, noted Alley after a solid morning practice. "Most of these kids know what they're facing anyway."
As one of the smallest Class AAA schools, the road to playoffs won't be easy. Last year five of eight Commonwealth teams qualified for the postseason, three of those with 6-4 records.
"The Commonwealth will make you really humbled," Aker said. "They'll be about 4-5 college-ready kids on each team you play. You really have to adjust yourselves to that level of play."
Coach Alley said that although their undersized for their district, their much improved from a year ago.
"We're just gonna have to be a team, we're going to have to have team unity. We're not going to be the biggest team, especially for Triple-A, but our kids are playing real well and working well together."
While the team is still making minor adjustments to their defense, which will be a combination of a 4-4 and 5-3, the Patriots offense should be their biggest strength. Quarterback Lee Carneal returns cast-free after suffering a wrist injury in the season opener in 2010.
Senior running back Micah Rivers says that with returning starters across the board on offense, the experience should translate to a postseason berth.
"Playoffs, it's really all we're thinking about and I think this could be the year. We have a lot of expectations. We're not looking back, we're looking forward and I think we're going to surprise a lot of teams."
Albemarle opens the season August 26th on their brand new turf field hosting Western Albemarle.