Co-written with Elizabeth Cooley
Andrean’s 2016 varsity football season ended on Friday, October 28 with a sectional loss at New Prairie. While the team, especially seniors, would have liked to win sectionals, their efforts throughout the season have definitely shown. “Ending the season with a loss is never ending on a “good note,” but the boys played hard,” said varsity coach Chris Skinner.
Student Kristen Maldonado (12) has been with the team as an athletic trainer for multiple years. “Whenever a season ends it is always hard to accept the defeat,” Maldonado said. “However, following Friday’s game, I felt the boys gave it their all. They continued to fight and play their hardest until the very last second. The sportsmanship the guys displayed is all you can ask for.”
Even if the team didn’t end up with a sectional win, the experience was still enjoyable for players and fans alike. “I have come to love watching football and, mainly, this team,” Maldonado said. “Their dedication and love for the game is something amazing to see. Each player gives their all for every game and practice, and it is clear to see that every guy on the team loves the game.”
Right off the bat, the team has faced some challenges, the main one being the loss of coach Phil Mason at the end of last year. “Without a head, the team was not able to come together as one,” Maldonado said. “However, when Coach Skinner was appointed he was quick to build unity amongst the players. Coach Skinner and the players were challenged to completely rebuild their defense. I think, given the circumstances, the team was extremely successful.”
In Skinner’s opinion, some other challenges stuck out more. “Consistency was our nemesis all year,” Skinner said. “Ultimately, that’s on me as the head coach. I will spend a lot of time this offseason figuring out ways to force that consistency on our players.” Luckily, the experience that Skinner gained during his first season should prepare the team for more success next year.
For Skinner himself, becoming head coach was a dream come true. “Having played here and been a part of some successful football teams, it was an honor to be their coach this season,” Skinner said. “It’s difficult to specify one highlight because there are so many moments that are special. In terms of on-field performance, I think our Hobart game was the highlight. We played a complete game on both sides of the ball. We played with energy and intensity all night.”
In terms of next year, the boys have some work to do after the loss of this year’s seniors. “We lose some very important pieces – there’s no doubt about that. Our offense will lose a lot of experience. Defensively, we don’t graduate as much, but the seniors that we do lose are good football players,” Skinner said.
Even with this setback, both Skinner and Maldonado have confidence in next year’s team. “These boys are the last ones to say they were on the team when they went to state the second time. I believe these seniors mark the end of one generation of football and a new generation is taking over,” Maldonado said. “The team needs to fill the empty positions, but I think they will be able to do that just fine.”