For all intents and purposes, the 2013 football season at Wayne Hills began about 10 days after the Patriots dropped a 20-11 decision to Pascack Valley in the state sectional semifinals last Nov. 30.
At Wayne Hills, championships have become the norm, so when the team struggled last year to a 6-5 campaign and an ouster in the semifinals for the first time in nine years, a sense of urgency was almost immediate for the returning players.
Add to that a new coaching staff, led by head coach Wayne Demikoff, who succeeded his long-time boss, the legendary Chris Olsen, and the Patriots’ 2013 season has a new look.
The team began weight lifting in December and amped that up in early January, as usual. Demikoff was officially approved as the team’s head coach in February, relieving a lot of anxiety from the players who clearly wanted their former defensive coordinator as the new head coach.
Demikoff’s first order of business was putting together a coaching staff. While a number of coaches from the Olsen era have returned, there’s a new offensive coordinator (John Jacobs) and defensive leader (Jermain Johnson), as well as new lines coaches. Jacobs and Johnson were both head coaches in 2012 at West Orange and Paterson Eastside respectively.
The team began summer, non-contact workouts on June 11, then went away to camp from June 30-July 3 at East Stroudsburg University.
Summer workouts continued, including 7-on-7’s before a 10-day break in late July, early August.
And now, on Aug. 12, the pads are on and the intensity level revved up another level. There’s just 31 days before the regular season opener, at Northern Highlands on Sept. 12. In between, there are there scrimmages and the annual Maroon and White scrimmage, set for Aug. 17.
While the dynamics with the new coaches has been good since the team began official workouts in June, the message got through on Aug. 12.
“You’ve been waiting all summer to wear the pads,” Demikoff told the team in an early morning meeting after breakfast was served. “Well, here you go.”
And Johnson also wanted the defense to know the score.
“Every play in practice, it comes down to being mentally prepared,” Johnson said. “You practice like you play, simple as that. Never let up, not even for one play in practice. That’s the way you have to think.”
And with that, the 2013 football season at Wayne Hills is certainly underway now.