By JOSH FRYE
The Northview Chiefs are gearing up for a successful season not only on the gridiron, but off as well.
Even with a fairly small varsity squad of only 30 players, the Chiefs are in hopes of capturing another championship.
“We have a small group of guys,” head coach Derek Marshman said. “The difference-maker is that we have quality kids.”
Despite the rain, heat and humidity, Marshman and the Chiefs were hard at work on the practice field at Northview High this week.
“We have been conditioning and working on the mental and physical parts of the game,” said Marshman.
Earlier this week, Marshman addressed his players after practice, congratulating them on the outstanding performance they have shown thus far during the hot summer months.
While sweat poured from their faces, a smile could be seen on each face. Within those smiles, there was also a look of determination.
Marshman also stressed that the team has adopted the motto, “hoka hey,” a saying that originated from the Lakota war chief, Crazy Horse. Translated as “it’s a good day to die,” the war cry means roughly that the best is yet to come. It also reminds the Northview players to kill selfish desires and put the team first.
“The motto speaks volumes to our team philosophy,” said Marshman.
The Northview coach also explained that the Chiefs have adapted a keyword every week this summer, known as the “Seven C’s.” The “Seven C’s” have been an ongoing lesson for the players on and off the field and consists of the words culture, contagious, consistent, communicate, connect, commitment and care.
Each week Marshman and the coaching staff teach their players the meaning of the words and how each can come into play with player development, on and off the field.
“It is important as a coach to be a leader on and off the football field for these young men,” Marshman said. “If you’re not being an example for your players and only care about the game, you’re not doing your job as a coach.”
The main focus for the Chiefs leading into full practice schedules on July 29 is to focus on becoming bigger, faster and stronger.
“We have a ton of fine tuning to do on our base plays,” Marshman said. “We will be playing a few 7-on-7 games with a few schools, starting with Escambia County High. The purpose of the 7-on-7’s is to focus on coaching and helping the guys learn and develop more as players while being competitive.”
By Florida law, football teams are required to have helmets-only practices during the first five days of full practice in order for the players to become acclimated to the heat.
The Chiefs will have their traditional player-practice lock-in on August 2. The lock-in is established to help the team create a bond of brotherhood and work on areas that they want to improve in. It will conclude with a midnight, full-pad scrimmage and practice under the lights of the Northview stadium.
“It is something that has become tradition to us and is a lot of fun for the guys,” said Marshman. “The guys will practice, lift and play under the lights after midnight. After the midnight practice, the night is followed with video games and other activities that are meant to bring them closer together through fellowship as a team.”
With a fairly young team and after losing stand-out linebacker Lance McLaughlin, who registered 162 tackles last season, to Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., seasoned veterans such as running back Jayden Jackson, offensive lineman Wyatt Windham, running back Trent Peebles and defensive lineman Jojo Parker will be looked to lead the Chiefs this season.
The Northview squad remains optimistic and determined to be a force to compete against this year.
Northview will travel to Atmore on Tuesday, July 23, for a 9 a.m. 7-on-7 with ECHS and are also slated to play 7-on-7 games with Milton High and W.S. Neal at later dates.