• Patton Junior High fields 2 football teams

  • Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles about Patton Junior High School fall sports.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles about Patton Junior High School fall sports.
    Thirty-six pairs of cleats hit the newly installed artificial turf of Normandy Field as Patton Junior High School’s White and Blue football teams arrived for their first home game Sept. 17 against Warren Middle School.
    The second game of the season, following their match-up against Tonganoxie Middle School Sept. 10, which resulted in losses for both the White and the Blue team, had been anticipated since their first practice Aug. 19.
    “When we go away we take the respect, we take the win, and we continue to work and improve,” said Patton eighth-grader Josh Grisi, Blue Team quarterback and captain. “When they come to our house, I am a captain, so I see it as my house. I don’t like the idea of another team coming in and taking a win and taking our respect. It is a dog fight every single play, especially since this is a brand-new field, this is going to go down as a historical day, and I won’t have another team coming in and telling me what to do and bossing me around.
    “We represent the military when we’re out there,” he said. “I think that is important that we understand what we’re playing for and what we’re fighting for and who we’re representing.”
    The teams are under the direction of four coaches — Head Coach Dave Parrish, Defensive Coaches Jim Kozminski and Adam Acred, and Offensive Coach Patrick Hernandez.
    The White Team, formerly the seventh-grade team, is made up of 21 players, and the Blue Team, formerly the eighth-grade team, is made up of 15 players.
    “We were able to divide the kids up based on their skill level, experience and size, so the White being the less experienced team and the Blue being the more experienced team,” Kozminski said. “The reason why we decided to go this way is just based off the number of participants. … We had a couple of first-time players that their experience and skill level need to be developed, so we put them on more of the developmental team and vice versa.”
    Although the teams are separated based on skill, Kozminski said every practice begins with the fundamentals.
    “A lot of them, this is their first time playing 11 on 11 tackle football, so we just have brilliance in the fundamentals,” Kozminski said. “Every practice we go over basic formations, three-point stances, where you’re going to be out on the football field and allow them to grasp that before we start getting into the more complex parts of football, which they’ll be introduced more to in high school.
    Page 2 of 3 - “Right now, we’re just trying to foster a love of the game,” he said. “If you love the game, you’re going to continue with it whether you’re coaching, playing or whatever it may be, but if you don’t have that at the beginning, sometimes you get lost in transition, especially the newer kids.”
    With the fundamentals established, it is the job of each of the coaches to teach the players the specifics of offense and defense.
    Kozminkski said as a defensive coach, he puts emphasis on awareness.
    “Awareness of what your job is,” he said. “Football is the ultimate team sport, but with that being said, every individual has a job and in defense, we focus on not being the hero, not going and being the superstar, but just knowing your job and doing your job to the best of your ability.”
    Acred said that awareness comes from conditioning an understanding of the rules.
    “We have three different stances in defense — three-point stance, four-point stance, two-point stance — so we teach them how to do that, how to not commit penalties in defense, how to not grab, how to not jump offsides, all that good stuff,” Acred said. “Also, watch the ball. Don’t listen to the quarterback. You don’t move until the ball moves. …We try to instill a little discipline in them.”
    On the offensive side, Hernandez said he focuses on putting the right players in the various positions.
    “We’re looking not just for the best, but the ones that are actually able to listen to our guidance and apply it not only to practice, but that when the game comes around, we can see that they’re able to hold the concepts and understand what we’re trying to accomplish,” Hernandez said. “We try not to focus on wins and losses, because any team sport you want to win obviously, but just progression, just getting them better, not just as football players but as kids because a lot of them are impressionable 12- and 13-year-olds.”
    While several of the players participate in other sports including basketball, track and soccer, Grisi and Patton seventh-grader Willie Nash, White Team quarterback, agreed that football is their favorite.
    “There is just so much athletic talent overall in football,” Grisi said. “It is not just someone who is fast or someone who is big. There is always a position for someone. It is very including and just something I’ve always been into.”
    “All of these guys out here and one girl, you make a brotherhood in football,” Nash said.
    Page 3 of 3 - Players also said they had high hopes as the season continues, particularly Patton seventh-grader Elissa Jasso, White Team left guard.
    “I hope that I learn how to be more confident in myself,” Jasso said. “I’m trying to see if I can become a little bit stronger and try out things that people normally say girls shouldn’t be doing.”
    They can teach the fundamentals, they can teach the defensive strategies and the offensive strategies, but the coaches agreed that the most important thing the players can learn from football is teamwork.
    “We push extracurriculars, but we also push community, we push teamwork and we push leadership,” Acred said. “Football is that sense of teamwork. … It is 11 different minds acting as one body.”
    “Each sport offers its own great things that that sport brings to the table, but in football in general, you need every single person on that field at the same time to be holding their weight,” Kozminski said. “You cannot pick up for a slacker. You cannot have just one person outshine for the rest of the team. It takes 11.”
    Tuesday’s games resulted in losses for both teams.
    The next home football games, versus Turner Middle School, start at 4 p.m. Sept. 24 at Normandy Field.
    For a complete Patton sports schedule, visit patton.usd207.org /apps/events/?id=1.
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