Championships are earned in the offseason

MC football team begins spring football

At six in the morning, odds are you might be asleep or doing some vigorous last-minute studying for an exam in your 8 a.m. class. If you happened to wake from your slumber or look up from your computer, you would see a bunch of football players in grey shirts and garnet shorts, walking to the Cooper Athletic Center. If you followed those players and just listened, you would hear the blow of a whistle followed by four simple words: “Get your feet moving!”

Spring football has once again started at Maryville College. This time between seasons is for player development, intended to both mentally and physically challenge the players. One of the ways to accomplish this is what the coaches call “mat rooms,” which are six different drills at exactly 6 a.m. with zero tolerance for mistakes.

“It’s definitely challenging,” said junior defensive lineman Zach Capehart. “The coaches are trying to push us to the breaking point at every turn. It really is a team bonding experience because you’re up at six in the morning and you’re going through it with your teammates. We can look at each other at the end of it and say, ‘We went through it together.’”

There is truly no margin for error in the mat rooms. Up-downs are the punishment for every mishap and mistake, and players are often found performing this exercise. The point of this is to teach the players that there is no room for mistakes. It also teaches accountability, as one person’s actions affect other members of the team.

“The whole point of the matt rooms are to get better, faster, and stronger,” said junior defensive lineman Tyler Todd. “They are definitely not for the faint of heart and they really weed out who truly wants to play college football.”

Todd also acknowledged the mental struggles a player has to go through, due to the discipline required to wake up and perform at a high level that early in the morning. He emphasized that in order for the Scots to be as good as they want to be, the matt rooms are a tough, but necessary step.

On April 1, the Maryville College football team started the first matt room. As the team went through the drills, mistakes were made, up-downs were done and at the end of all the drills, the team met together for one last test: “four quarters” of military up-downs followed by pushup planks.

“I think it was a new challenge for the freshmen,” said junior offensive lineman Dalton Stephens. “At the same time, however, it’s also a challenge for the upperclassmen. The freshmen need to rise up to the upperclassmen, but the players who have experienced spring ball before need to encourage them and help them get to that level.”

With one matt room under their belts, the freshmen have an idea of what to expect from spring football at Maryville College. On the other hand, the upperclassmen are reminded of the mental and physical demands that are required to play for their team, which has produced much success over the past two years.

This year, as the team hopes to go for their third straight conference championship, the stakes are even higher because with the team’s recent success, other teams will be placing a target on the Scots’ backs. Even so, the Scots look to be taking a great first step towards opening the season right where they left off.

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