When the East St. John donned full gear for the first time last Thursday, there was a palpable enthusiasm on the Wildcats’ practice field.
“We worked extremely hard all summer and the guys have been waiting for this point. I’m really excited about the enthusiasm. One thing we preach here is effort and energy every,” first-year East St. John coach Brandon Brown said.
The Wildcats were working at a quick pace, with offensive players calling out various assignment such as blocking schemes, with the defensive players quickly countering with calls of their own.
“I feel like we are a step ahead of where we need to be, which is good. We just need to continue to work and continue to communicate. We still made some mistakes, but I like the way the guys are talking and communicating,” Brown said.
It’s only been a few months, but it must seem like a time-warp for the Wildcats, who went from not being able to have contact in the spring because all of the team’s helmets had to be sent in to be reconditioned.
“The biggest thing of that was the teaching part of it. I said, ‘guys, we are not going to look at it as a negative. We will look at it as a positive and really teach. That’s what we did as coaches. We really took our time. We were really able to implement our thing and rush through things this spring,” the East St. John coach said.
It’s all part of a new mindset for the Wildcats. On the first day of what passed for spring practice in May – Brown, who’s first official day at ESJ was a day earlier – had his team re-enter the locker room and return to the practice field after watching he Wildcats originally depart the locker room with a less than stellar sense of enthusiasm.
“We preach that. We run on and off the field. We believe in doing the little things right. It’s more than just football. I want our guys to be the leaders on this campus, and ultimately, in this community. I want us to be some guys that everyone can look up to,” said Brown.
Once the Wildcats were able to put their new helmets on, they didn’t want to take the off, according to the new coach, an East St. John alumnus.
“I told them, ‘let’s appreciated the little things.’ Our helmet is part of our equipment and we will always wear it, even when we’re not in. That’s part of it. Those guys appreciated it and they are ready to wear it,” said Brown.
Brown will get to see the now helmet-clad Wildcats in action against an opponent when East St. John hosts Edna Karr in a scrimmage slated for 6 p.m. at Joe Keller Stadium.
“Any time you play a team like Edna Karr, you have to be prepared. We are not really going to focus really focus on the opponent. We will really focus on ourselves. We will focus on doing the little things right and prepare for our season. If we can do that, we will be OK,” Brown said.