“The talent is here.”
That’s the record for the Fremont footballers the past 5 years.
A victory midway through the season in 2018 over Central Montcalm a team that finished 0-9.
The following year the Hornets put together a 7-3 season and made the playoffs.
The Pack went 0-9.
So how does one come into a program that has struggled to stay within shouting distance much less win a game and turn it around?
Infuse confidence according to new Head Coach Jason Carpenter.
“Confidence comes from preparation. For these kids to believe they can win they have to compete every day not just once a week. And the preparation has to go beyond the practice field and be a part of their home life as well.”
“Our practices are all about competition. Whatever the drill, whether it be one on one or in groups the players are competing against each other and no one likes to lose. Once they buy in and believe in themselves the players will be capable of taking care of business on the field.”
Carpenter has brought a new attitude, a new work ethic and fostered a sense of pride in his players and he is convinced this will translate into wins on the field.
“The talent is here,” he said in a recent sit down after one of the training sessions that take place twice daily 7-9am and 7-9 pm. His numbers for both conditioning get togethers has been around 40 and he expects the numbers going out for football to reach the mid 50’s by the time practices begin in earnest.
No stranger to winning, Carpenter was part of Milan High School's three year run of playoff teams and conference titles ending in 2000. He went on to play at Albion College where the Britons won an MIAA championship and later he coached a high school team in Ohio taking a winless program to the state tournament in just a few years.
Carpenter oozes confidence.
“I hate losing.” he stated during our interview, a statement made obvious from his demeanor during out talk. The new coach is driven by not only a desire to instill a winning attitude in his players but to install a winning tradition in a school that has not visited the post season since 2013 and not advanced beyond game 10 since 2005.
The biggest challenges ahead?
“The players need to believe they can win and learn how to do it. I’ve seen talented teams that fall short at the end because they simply don’t know how to win. How to finish off an opponent.
"This team will need to learn how to close out games. And once again that goes back to preparation. When you take the field ready to win it’s because you have already gained the confidence to do so on a daily basis in practice and preparation.”
His staff includes a mix of coaches who have had experience with the team and newcomers. Jacob Tumele will be calling the plays on defense with Tom Threatt, Mack Houston, Morgan Wansten and Steve Lathrop assisting and Dale Bacon will be taking care of the all important O-line.
Carpenter, of course, will be directing the offense.
The coaches will all be learning a new language and the offense will undergo a major revamping as they move to more of a spread game.
“I think we’re going to catch some teams by surprise,” said the coach. “This is a whole new scheme on both sides of the ball.”
We asked the coach for three things that might be key for moving forward this season.
1.WEALTH (Work Ethic, Accountability, Loyalty, Toughness and Honor.”
2. Alphas- We need leadership and we expect players to step up.
3. No Excuses.
Of course there is the looming prospect of COVID-19 threatening to make its impact on the season.
“There are going to be cases once we get into the season and that means players will be missing games and need to sit out . Like other teams we will have to learn to treat it like an injury and recognize players are going to have to be out for a period of time.”
“I just hope we can have a season. These kids lost their spring in school and in sports and I’d hate to see them lose fall as well.”
It’s been a long drought between winning seasons for the Fremont faithful. The fans in recent years have become less patient and more vocal as the teams have struggled.
With Coach Carpenter at the helm it’s not likely he will silence the ‘experts’ who line the fence on Friday nights.
But if the Pack can feed on his desire to win…
They just might quiet down a bit.
The Packers will start the season on the road to Ludington and Big Rapids before initiating the newly renovated field in their home debut against Central Montcalm on September 11.