Sitting in his back office, Mike Rader had last season’s media guide open in front of him, the names of many players scratched off. Those players were those with whom he had already met.
With last week being his first as the head coach of Maryville College football, Rader has his short time as a Fighting Scotto sit down with each player in order to get to know his team a little better.
Through those meetings, he’s noticed that his team is ready to win.
“When I’m meeting with these guys, each one of them are hungry,” Rader said. “You can see it in their eye, and you can hear it in their voice … They want to be pushed; they want to be loved on. It’s just really a combination of both, and they’re excited. They want to be successful.”
However, Rader knows that this will take more than just coaching.
In the press conference held last Tuesday, Rader mentioned that this team would have to come together as a family in order to know that they’ll fight for each other.
“It’s just really trying to get everybody to realize that we’re in this together,” said the new coach. “I’ve talked to the guys a lot about building relationships within the team. When you build those relationships, and then you go to push somebody and motivate them, typically, you get a better response than if you haven’t built that relationship …”
Zane Winders, wide receiver and rising senior, said that this was going to be a big thing going into spring practice, when the team’s camaraderie takes shape.
“It’s hard to judge a team when they’re in shorts and t-shirts, but that begins the brotherhood aspect of it,” Winders said. “I think we’ll come together with him a lot during spring practice, especially installing the offense. That takes a lot of film work and chalk-talks. I think it will bring us together real heavily.”
The brotherhood isn’t the only thing that the Scots are looking forward to. With Rader playing a big part in the Huntingdon offense, one that averaged 457 yards per game in 2011, the Maryville players are looking forward to what the new coach will be able to do here.
“[Rader] was at Huntingdon the year after they started their program, so he’s been [there] almost the entire time,” Winders said. “Obviously, he was very involved in their offense. Every time they had the ball against us, it was scary. They can explode fast, or they can keep the ball from you … We’ve run this kind of iffy, sometimes on, sometimes not offense. I’m excited for one that is going to go strong.”
However, before that offense can get off the ground, Rader knows other work must be done.
Along with meeting each player individually this past week, Rader has been looking to put together a staff that will serve the program well. The one thing he’s in the hunt for now is a defensive coordinator.
“I’m an offensive guy,” Rader said. “Definitely got to hire a defensive guy. I’ve sat with Coach Schram, and we’ve got a plan for that. We’re still in the working progress as to how we want to go about it.”
To Rader, it’s not just about football. As he’s putting a staff together, he’s making it a point to look for a staff that doesn’t just teach the game.
“One thing I’m trying to do right now is hire a dynamic staff—guys who will come in and help us with recruiting and just help us develop an atmosphere that grows young men that we can put back in the community as productive citizens,” Rader said. “That’s my ultimate goal here. We’re going to win games, but it’s all of those little things. The wins are a byproduct.”
With recruiting at the forefront, Rader said that one of the first things he will begin to do is focus on getting athletes to come to MC.
Other coaches have handled most of the recruiting during the absence of a coach, but Rader said that he himself is ready to go to work.
“Recruiting is big,” Rader said. “Coach [Shawn] Hayes has helped out a lot with that, along with Coach [Jim] Elliott and Coach [Dustin] Locke.”
“You’ve definitely got to take care of your back yard,” Rader continued. “I plan on trying to sit down, as soon as I can get out next week, and visit the local schools and sit down with the Alcoas, and the Maryvilles, and anybody else that we have connections [with]. You definitely have to recruit within your state and anywhere you have connections.”
This hungry team is ready to fight in the USA South Conference. With their first game being Sept. 8 against a tough Emory & Henry squad, the Scots will have to be in top form.
However, they have their eyes on an even bigger goal.
“Obviously, the goal is that we want a ring,” Winders said. “We haven’t got that … [It’s] been the goal every year, but this year, you can kind of sense it and feel that it’s very possible. We’re striving for that. Right now, we have no idea who we are … Excited is the word I use. We lose a lot, but we’ve got talent to replace it.”