TIME OUT by Joe Flanagan

Are You Ready For Some Action?

Time to cue Hank Williams …
“Are you ready for some football?”
How about some volleyball … softball, girls golf and cross country?
We’re just a week-and-a-half away from a much-anticipated Nebraska football season, but more about that next week. This week, area high schools open 2010 campaigns in several sports, beginning what promises to be an entertaining nine months of athletic competition.
You’ll find our 2010 Fall Sports Preview special section(s) inserted in this issue of the Albion News, providing brief outlooks for all the schools and teams in our coverage area. It was a push to get it completed this time around, as opening games seem to creep earlier up the calendar every year.
One thing I noticed while gathering information from coaches – there is certainly a wide range of situations and expectations among our area athletic squads this fall.
From teams with many returning starters and goals of reaching playoffs and state tournaments, to groups with little experience hoping to simply mature and improve as their seasons progress.
There’s an air of anticipation for everyone before the first contests begin, but also a bit of the usual trepidation as well.
Locally, the Boone Central girls golf and softball teams get underway tomorrow. Both teams are excited and enthusiastic entering 2010, for good reason.
There probably isn’t another team in our area athletic spectrum that has more reason for optimism than the Cardinal lady golfers.
When you return four of five players from a state championship team, led by one of the top players in the state, there is no reason to quell your goals.
Coach Dennis Walters kept it simple and succinct when asked what his players’ aspirations are for 2010 … “The team’s goal is to win district and state, to repeat as state champs.”
‘Nuff said.
The 2009 season was a bit of a transitional period for the Boone Central softball team, with players getting to know new Coach Cassie Olson and learning her system.
While the record was just 6-22, the Cardinals were almost always competitive and there were a number of close losses. One thing that became evident was that BC needed to increase it’s offensive punch to increase it’s win total, even with solid pitching and competent defense.
“I saw a tremendous amount of dedication, time and effort this past summer put into reaching our goal of improving our offense through hitting and baserunning,” Olson commented when assessing her 2010 squad.
That team will have seven players with starting experience returning and they will be joined by several players who competed on summer teams, but had previously participated in other fall sports.
Oh, did we mention that not one, but two Albion teams reached state softball tournaments this summer?
It would all seem to bode well for fall success. Experience. More athletes. Summer success. Familiarity.
However, everyone knows it’s one thing to have the ingredients and recipe, another to deliver the sauce.
Now the games start. Should be fun.
One of our area football teams actually kicks off the season this Friday, as well, with the Newman Grove Bluejays traveling to Walthill.
Newman Grove is another team brimming with confidence. The Jays have put together three straight winning seasons and playoff appearances and plan to keep that streak alive behind 14 returning lettermen – 12 of whom are seniors or juniors.
Some older fans in the Albion area might well recognize the name of Jay QB Troy McCuiston. That’s right, he’s the son of former Albion football all-stater and longtime track & field record-holder Marion McCuiston.
As former classmates and teammates, I may be a bit biased, but I still consider Marion one of the finest athletes and football players to ever don Cardinal red.
It’s going to make following the Jays over the next two seasons just a little more intriguing for me.
Most of our area football and volleyball teams, along with cross country squads, will begin play next week. Be sure to check out their reports in the preview section.
It’s time. Are we ready for some football, volleyball, softball, golf and cross country?
Well, of course we are!