Fast start key for New Brighton
New Brighton finished 3-6 and missed the playoffs last season, but back-to-back 35-28 wins against conference foes Riverside and Mohawk to close the campaign have given the Lions a determined attitude in their preparation for 2013.
“We feel like we set some building blocks going into this season from the work ethic that took place this offseason to building some confidence in our young guys that we can win some ballgames and finish strong,” coach Joe Greco said.
Those late victories weren't easy. In both, the Lions trailed by as many as 14 points and still found ways to win.
Greco said he believes the key this year is getting off to a better start in the win-loss column and on the field. The Lions slogged through a six-game losing streak after beating Ellwood City in the season opener, and Greco said part of that is a product of players not focusing for the entire game.
“We've got to start a little bit stronger and be able to play four quarters,” he said.
With a more “varsity-ready” squad this season, Greco said he hopes it will be easier to extract more complete efforts than he saw last season.
He believes his seniors now have the experience to excel in their roles rather than simply settle for filling the necessary holes on the roster.
That starts with his son, senior quarterback Gabe Greco, who will be back under center after throwing for 1,220 yards and 12 touchdowns. Coach Greco believes his son is more comfortable as this season approaches.
“He's been raised to step into a leadership role, and he's really a coach on the field,” the elder Greco said.
Both, he said, are excited to work together during Gabe's last season.
They're also excited for the return of all-conference receiver Craig Thompson, who had 534 yards and four touchdowns.
“He's just a phenomenal athlete and a great leader for our team,” Greco said.
The coach also said the team's biggest strength will be in how many players can contribute not just now but in the future.
“We feel like we should be in the playoffs for the next couple of years,” he said, “and we should be ready to start making some runs.”