Berryville banking on bolstering success this season
BERRYVILLE -- Berryville senior running back Ethan Chapin is shaping up to be first-year coach Lee Atkins' go-to guy in the backfield as summer workouts continue.
Chapin broke free for several long runs against Green Forest and Huntsville Thursday afternoon in the third team camp of the year for the Bobcats. Chapin, who has endured three consecutive one-win seasons, said this year would be different.
"Our attitude is the biggest thing," he said. "All the guys are involved. Nobody is just standing around on the sidelines shooting the bull. Everyone has to know what is going on. And it is more exciting."
The Cats have shown signs of improvement since Atkins took over just prior to spring drills. With a couple of months to familiarize himself with the program, Berryville is beginning to look more competitive every time they put the pads on.
"From what Coach Atkins has told us we are way ahead than what he expected," Chapin said. "We kind of went into spring overwhelmed about how much we had to learn. But he came with the approach of us learning a little bit at a time and getting each little section down perfect and our expectations really went up."
And those expectations are to win games.
"We are looking to start off 3-0," Chapin said, which would include wins over Marshall, Huntsville and Green Forest. "After that, conference play will be more challenging. But we are looking to go to the playoffs."
For a team that Hooten's picked to finish last in 1-4A Conference, making the playoffs would be a step in the right direction to turning around the program.
"Green Forest and Huntsville will be very tough games," Atkins said. "But my goal is to make this team as confident and prepared as we can going into conference play. It's not going to be easy. There is not an easy game on the schedule. Every game is going to be a mental and physical challenge for us."
Chapin and the Bobcats already have more confidence brewing than has percolated in the past.
"That is our expectations and that is what we believe we can do," Chapin said of the 3-0 start. "Coach said if we continue improving the way we have been there is no telling what we can do. So, we are just going to take each game one at a time and do our best."
Atkins is noticing the difference of attitude and performance.
"We are making improvements steadily," he said. "And I think the kids are beginning to buy into the system and believe in each other. That's the key to turning around any football program. You have to first have faith in yourself and have faith in the scheme you are running."
Atkins said that faith should parlay into success.
"When somebody starts to believe in themselves and believe in their own ability to do things and accomplish things it makes the team concept that much better," he said. "It's like the glue that binds everything together."
Atkins said winning the first three games would be a shot in the arm for the Bobcats.
"If we can not just be competitive, but bring home wins in the first three games, we have a shot of doing some really big things in our conference," he said.
Atkins said he continues to see improvements in certain aspects of the game. The Bobcats have focused much of their early attention on the offensive side of the ball with the defense seeing limited attention.
"I thought our running game was better at Harrison the other night and our passing game was better at Green Forest the first week," Atkins said. "But we are starting to see the defensive side of the ball step up. We have started working and focusing on defense so that was the good part tonight. We had only spent a few minutes on defense before this week. The more time we can put into the defense and specializing on offense the more we will improve and get better."