Pioneers determined to contend for conference title
Across the board, both the coaching staff and the players agreed that the team must improve in several key areas if they want to finish the season strong on their way to a potential playoff berth.
Head coach Brian Willmer touched on certain areas that need improvement if the Pioneers, sitting at .500, are going to make a postseason push.
“We need to be able to play second half football,” Willmer said. “We are not at all a strong second half team.”
Senior defensive back Johnathan Stark said the squad is putting forth great effort in games, but that the Pioneers need to bring that intensity to the practice field.
“The team is doing a great job of playing our hearts out on gameday,” Stark said. “What we need to improve is playing that hard in practice and believing in ourselves and [our] coaches that we can win.”
Senior running back Drake Tofi said that it is crucial for every player on the field to know exactly what they have to do every play.
“When it all comes down to it, it’s just being assignment-sound as a group and staying calm and having fun with the game,” Tofi said.
Senior running back Javon Taylor said that the team does have the tendency to get fatigued and let up late in the game.
“We have to start becoming more of a scrappy team,” Taylor said. “We tend to fold over and just relax sometimes.”
Stark, Tofi and Taylor all agreed that it is becoming a challenge to keep pressing forward as the season gets more taxing.
“The most difficult thing at this point in the semester to is make sure you’re taking care of yourself and staying fresh and sharp mentally and physically,” Stark said.
“The hardest part of the day for me is just waking up,” Taylor said. “Getting the day started.”
Tofi said he takes a very methodical approach in how he prepares the week leading up to the game.
“During the week it’s just constant watching film, meeting with coaches, and just trying to be on top of the mistakes you made in practice, making sure you’re learning from them.”
Willmer said that his players should live up to expectations in preparation, in practice, and on the field as the final stretch of the season approaches.
“I want an atmosphere of excellence.”
Pregame preparation will be vital to the Pioneers in the upcoming weeks as they face nationally ranked No. 3 Baker University and No. 7 Missouri Valley College in the coming weeks.
The next home game will be Saturday, Oct. 22 against Baker at Olathe District Activities Center (ODAC) at 2 p.m.
Carlos Guzman- More by this author
Carlos Guzman ('19) is from Overland Park, Kansas and is the Sports editor for The Trailblazer. He is a biology major with an emphasis in pre-medicine and is also pursuing a minor degree in Youth and Family Ministry. Carlos is also on the cross country and track and field team.