Last season was a disappointing one at The Corral. South Western, so often a major player in the YAIAA Division I picture, was plagued by inconsistency. It’s defense was shaky. It’s offense was wasteful, gifting away 23 total turnovers. The Mustangs 4-6 record reflected those shortcomings.
South Western has been hit by the occasional down season before. But something about this one struck longtime coach Don Seidenstricker the wrong way.
So Seidenstricker decided to shake things up this offseason.
After the season, Seidenstricker and his coaches held individual meetings with each of the team’s 26 returning seniors and their parents. The coaches graded each senior on a 30-point scale based on six criteria -- three of them mental, three of them physical.
The average player score, Seidenstricker said, was around 17 or 18. That made for one or two unpleasant meetings.
“We said ‘This is not for debate. This is where you’re at,’” Seidenstricker said. “Now what are you going to do with it?
“We had some parents in tears, and we had some kids in tears. But we have 26 seniors, and they’re all coming out. I thought maybe we’d lose some. But we didn’t.
“I thought we needed to desperately talk about some things.”
Based on those grades, Seidenstricker and his coaches chose the team’s two captains for this season: running back/receiver/safety Mike Felton (a Temple commit) and lineman Ryan Sexton. Judging by the early returns, the original jolt of those meetings seems to have had a galvanizing effect.
“We knew there was a meaning behind it,” Felton said.
Seidenstricker said at Media Day he was pleased with where his group was heading into the start of official practices.
“We need to have leaders in the sophomore class,” Seidenstricker said. “We need to have leaders in the junior class. And not just guys waiting to be leaders when they’re seniors. Kids who are going to take a legitimate leadership role in whatever their contribution is to their team.
“If we wouldn’t have had a good summer, if we didn’t have kids who I feel are going to be willing to set aside their personal goals for the team, I would say we’re not progressing the way the team needs to progress. But we are. We had a good summer.”