Johnson County Middle School football coaches prepare for a new season.
By Beth Cox
The JCMS Longhorns are ready to start the 2022 football season, but the team looks slightly different than last year.
The middle school Longhorns had only four seventh graders out of twenty-two players, so for Coach Devin Shaw and his assistant coaches, Mike McNutt and Robbie McCullouch, their work is definitely cut out for them with the upcoming season.
“We have to go through a lot of changes every year,” Shaw said. “Our middle school is 7-8 (grades), and the teams we play get their kids from 5-8 (grades), so it is a completely new team this year, and we are mostly first-year players.”
Last year’s middle school team had a few very talented players, which enabled the Longhorns to place second in the district.
COVID-19 hit both high school and middle school pretty hard last year, affecting both programs. The middle school was on track to be number one in the conference, but the virus made its way around the team, and Shaw was forced to stop practice for almost three weeks before heading into the playoffs. The Longhorns are ready to move forward with whatever challenges they may face in the future. They are a new team with several key players leading them through with talent and perseverance.
According to Shaw, Mack White, Jonathan Lisi, and Jacob Frauenthal are tough eighth-grade players who “have been putting in the work since last season.” The head coach explained how these young men have shown up at the field some days by themselves, got the bags and cones out, and went through practice-like drills without any mandates from the coaching staff.
The middle school football program mainly focuses on the basic fundamentals of football due to the inexperience of most players entering middle school. Shaw’s job is to prepare his team for high school, which means starting with core football strategies and just building from the bottom. Shaw knows how to get the most out of his players and strong leadership from his eighth graders.
The Longhorns will once again be on top of the leader board. Undoubtedly, the JCMS football team will be ready to compete in just a few weeks.