By Brennan Waldorf
The returning two-time district champion Yellow Jackets kick-started their season Aug. 1, looking to claim another title and extend their streak. The 2018-19, 8-3 Yellow Jackets, which made it to the Region A playoffs last year, retired 17 seniors last year and will look to a young core group of sophomores to step up.
If there’s one takeaway from last year’s winning team, it’s that they’ve got to be tough. Coach Edney said, “The team’s young but strong; they committed to the program and put a lot work in the weight room.”
A team that lost nearly all of its defense with nine players not returning and lost two 1,000-yard rushers on offense put in a lot of off-season work. “This is one of the strongest teams we’ve had recently; they’ve made great strides, breaking almost all the most recent weightlifting records and approaching on the school’s all-time records,” according to Edney.
The team won’t be without leadership this year, as remaining seniors (Owen Bott RB/DL, Tyrell Crockett RB/DB, Landon Custis WR/DB, Jeremy Major TE/DL, Landen Sayers RB/LB, and Crescencio Sugia OL/DL) will look to lead their young core to victory. They’ll have to guide their peers and instill the same toughness that allowed them to overcome a 26-7 halftime deficit on the road against Colonel Richardson last year. The Northampton staff composed of Raymond Wells, Charles Kellam, David Farlow, Aaron Palmer, Del Long, Phil Sweet, Keith Brady, Austin Gregory, and Brian Jardine has a lot of work to do. “The biggest challenge we have this year will be gaining experience and getting used to the speed of the varsity games,” Edney said.
Edney, who has been coaching for eight years, enters his fourth season with the Yellow Jackets and his fourth year as head coach. He says his biggest challenge is “getting players out before school starts; statewide numbers have been low, transportation and communication is important.”
This year the Yellow Jackets had 35 players commit to a team that saw more than 45 last year. Edney recommended the young players, saying, “they don’t miss practices,” which run in the evenings from 5-7 p.m., Monday through Friday at Northampton High, which is in need of renovations. When asked about the condition of the football team’s equipment and field, Edney said, “Fields are looking good. David Farlow did a tremendous job maintaining the fields, best they’ve looked in a while.” The team also had some equipment donated last year and does its best to maintain the older stuff.
For now, the team looks to its season opener, which will be a district game against Arcadia.
“We love our community support, and players enjoy seeing the stands filled, they’ve worked hard and deserve it, that crowd atmosphere really impacts the game” said Edney, who’d like to fill the stands every game. Game entry is only $5, season passes available, with most games played on Fridays at 7 p.m.