Almost fully loaded: Numbers, spirits up in Milledgeville going into new season
|Milledgeville football players run through drills Friday. The Missiles have 30 players on the roster compared to just 18 in 2010. The extra numbers have the Missiles hoping to end their 20-game losing streak in 2012. (Michael Krabbenhoeft/Sauk Valley Media)|
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MILLEDGEVILLE – As the Milledgeville Missiles lined up across from each other, offense vs. defense, fourth-year head coach Jason Wroble enthusiastically explained how the next play was going to work.
While that’s a common scene as football season kicks off throughout the state, it’s one that Milledgeville sees as the light at the end of the tunnel.
Two years ago, the Missiles finished their season with 18 players in the entire football program; last year, they were forced to forfeit their Week 3 game against East Dubuque because injuries had depleted the varsity roster to the point where they couldn’t field a team.
But with 30 players in the program this year – including the retention of all of last year’s freshmen turned this year’s sophomores and another large class of incoming freshmen – Milledgeville is thrilled to have the ability to go 11-on-11 during practices.
“We’ve got more guys out here this year, and we’re stronger and older and more experienced,” junior quarterback Kameron DawTyne said.
“We really want to win, and if we stay focused and work hard, hopefully we can put that together with our play out on the field.”
Small class sizes are mainly to blame for the low numbers. There are a total of six boys in this year’s senior class, and Wroble is pleased to have four of them out for football; the junior class isn’t much larger.
But that hasn’t hampered the effort and enthusiasm of the Missiles. Buoyed by the large number of underclassmen – and the experience they gained as freshmen and sophomores playing varsity due to necessity – this year’s juniors and seniors are looking forward to brighter days in 2012.
“We’re really staying positive,” junior running back/linebacker Devin Biller said. “We’re pretty loose, going 100 percent in each drill and making sure we’re doing all the right things every practice. We’ve got to will to win, and if we stay healthy, I think we can make that happen.”
Any win would be welcome for a program that has two in the last 3 years. The Missiles are coming in off back-to-back winless seasons, and know they have a long road ahead to get back to where they were as recently as 2008: 12-1, conference champs and 1A state semifinalists.
But instead of throwing a pity party for themselves, the recent struggles have had the opposite effect.
“We’re still young, but we do have a lot of experience,” senior lineman Doug Williams said. “Our skill positions are really talented, and our younger guys are going to have to come together as a team and take big steps to help the upperclassmen.
“But we’ve had two winless seasons in a row, and we don’t need a whole lot more motivation than that.”
2011: 0-9 (0-8 NUIC Upstate)
Coach: Jason Wroble (4th season)
Opener: Aug. 24 at Polo, 7 p.m.
FYI: The Missiles are looking for their first win since 2009, and third victory since a trip to the 1A state semifinals in 2008.
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