Compared to last year, six familiar faces spoke about this season’s expectations and three new faces (Riverdale’s Terry Herrod, Forest Park’s John Diehl and North Clayton’s James Soza) did likewise.
“The hard work, sacrifice and dedication that these young men have exhibited since Dec. 1 is unbelievable,” Diehl said. “You see that Gatorade commercial saying ‘one more time.’ We were saying that about three months before it came out. Our kids have bought into it and done a great job.”
“I know we are going to be able to improve on last year’s record but we’re not using last year’s record as any type of benchmark,” Soza said. “We want to do the best we can to reach our potential as a team this season. We’ve seen a lot promise since we got there in the spring. We expect to be in every game.”
While Riverdale went 7-4 under Olten Downs last season, North Clayton finished 2-8 under Max Wiltz and Forest Park was winless under Don Williams.
“This will not be your same old Forest Park that you have seen the last couple of years,” said Diehl, who has also had coaching stints in New York, Florida and Missouri.
Even though Mt. Zion’s Ervin Starr and Morrow’s Leroy Foster have one more year of experience at their positions, they are hoping for better results as well.
“We are looking forward again to changing this thing around at Mt. Zion,” Starr said. “Building a program like the Lovejoys, Jonesboros and Drews and bringing Mt. Zion back to what it was just five years ago.”
“The point in time that I got here last year we didn’t really get to get into the whole gamut of what I dreamed my program to be,” Foster said. “I’m trying to get to elite status of Lovejoy, Jonesboro and Drew as well. This year is our turning point.”
Last season, the Bulldogs and Mustangs both finished with a 1-9 record.