A difficult road tends to lead to greater rewards.
The Amherst Comets went 0-10 in 2015 following seasons of 1-9 and 2-8. Third-year head coach Bill Fishleigh is aiming to restore Comet pride with new and old faces alike.
“I feel really good about this season,” he said. “We’ve had a rough go of it the past couple of years. The theme of this offseason has been restoring the pride. ‘Comet pride’ is a term that’s been around longer than I’ve been alive. The Amherst community has a lot of pride in everything it does, and it wants to have that in its football team. I’ve challenged the seniors and the upperclassmen to bring that back.”
Amherst struggled to put points on the board last season but put together good defensive efforts in close losses to North Ridgeville, Olmsted Falls, and Lakewood.
“We’re going to be a little different offensively this year and run mostly an I-formation offense,” said Fishleigh. “We were right in a lot of games last year and came up short. A stat I heard at the all-star game last year was that we had the most close losses of any team in Lorain County at four. Our kids see that and know we’re doing some things right. It’s just a matter of putting everything together.”
The Comets will stick with the 3-4 base defense that allowed them to hang in those games.
Sometimes when the offense is struggling so much the defense can get a negative mentality, said Fishleigh.
“For the most part, though, our defense battled out there,” he said. “We’re an attacking style defense that likes to mix up fronts. We try to send guys at the quarterback in many different directions while keeping things simple on the back end so we don’t confuse ourselves.”
Johnny Matakovich is expected to start at quarterback in place of the departed Nick DeJesus.
Matt Lee and Camden Haslage will anchor both the offensive and defensive lines while Jared Braddock and Jeremy Smith will bounce between running back and linebacker. Smith is an Elyria Catholic transfer who is originally from Amherst.
“I really think the Amherst kid is a tough kid,” said Fishleigh. “They’re going to battle until the end. I thought our player leadership was kind of lacking last year. That could have been my own fault. This year, we put together a program to really show the kids how to be leaders. We all met once or twice a month to discuss matters and do activities that build up leadership skills. Kids spoke in front of the team and the booster club and we picked our captains after this process.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Staff Photo | Amherst News-Times After going 0-10 in 2015, third-year head coach Bill Fishleigh is ready to begin restoring Comet pride.