Thursday, November 18, 2010
EATON — The Eaton football team looked at its fewer-than-usual players in the junior and senior classes this season and came up with an unpopular way to approach practice:
Running. Lots of it.
Knowing he would have to use up to eight players on both offense and defense, 23rd-year Eaton coach Ron Neanen bumped up the offseason (and in-season) conditioning to keep his players ready for the grind.
Whatever they did, it worked.
Eaton is 12-0 and in the regional final for first time in school history. The Eagles will face McNicholas (10-2) on Saturday in the Division III, Region 12 final for the chance to advance to a state semifinal with a group that works as hard in all phases as any in the Miami Valley.
“We kicked up (conditioning) in the offseason, and in season too, and they were kind of growling right away because we were doing a lot more,” Neanen said. “We’re still doing it.”
Standing together outside the Eaton locker room to discuss their close friendship and how it has aided Eaton’s success, junior QB/DB Cole French and senior WR/DB Zac Wilson talked with pride about that conditioning.
They’ve been two of the biggest producers, as French has passed for 2,595 yards and made 34 tackles and Wilson has grabbed 64 catches for 1,086 yards and made 9 interceptions, including three in the playoffs.
“You have to have a short-term memory, that’s for sure,” Wilson said of two-way duty. “If something happened on one side you can’t carry it over to the other. And you have to be conditioned. It takes a lot of hard work.”
That work has produced a 36.2-point scoring average while the defense has allowed more than 7 points only twice, including a 41-21 victory against top-seeded Springfield Shawnee last week.
“We do so much during the week, we don’t get tired,” said French, who also punts and kicks while Wilson returns punts and kicks.
The fourth-seeded Eagles now look toward McNicholas. And, they hope, beyond.
“It’s incredible, but I’m not satisfied,” Wilson said. “It’s my senior year.”Tweet