MHS getting strongerBy Jeremy Smith Published 7:55pm Friday, August 6, 2010
DIXON’S MILLS — After a lackluster 2009 campaign, Marengo High head coach James Rutherford is looking for a breakthrough from his Panthers this season.
“We’ve worked ever since school got out,” the second-year MHS head coach said. “We’re averaging 25-30 kids a day.”
That work ethic has reportedly begun paying dividends for the Panthers as Rutherford’s weight program is well ahead of his anticipated schedule.
“We’ve made major strides in the strength part of the weight room. We’ve got six kids bench pressing over 400 pounds and one benching over 500 pounds. I thought it would take another year for us to get as strong as they are,” Rutherford said. “Weight-lifting is one of those things they don’t want, but they’ve got to have to be successful in football.”
Rutherford is hopeful those gains will translate to on-field success this year, remedying the Panthers’ biggest problem from 2009.
“Even last year we were pretty good at what we did, we just didn’t hold on to the football,” Rutherford said. “That goes back to not being strong in the weight room. We fumbled the ball 50 times in nine games last year. If we hold onto the ball this year, there’s no telling what we’ll be able to do.”
The Panthers have accomplished much of what Rutherford was hoping up to this point, but still have strides to make over the next few weeks.
“I’m about 85 percent where I need to be,” Rutherford said. “If we can find us a center that is going to be consistent, we can be very good on offense.”
Filling that hole on the offensive line is critical for Marengo as it is the only vacancy on a veteran offensive line that has a chance to be a strength for the squad.
“I’m going to have two 11th graders on one side and two seniors on the other, but at center, I don’t have a clue,” Rutherford said. “I’ve got one kid that I have my eye on, but I have to figure out whether he is up for it.”
That line will again be responsible for creating daylight for a Marengo offense that aims to be more versatile in 2010.
“I want to get good at throwing the ball,” Rutherford said before turning his attention to his defensive unit. “And I want to get good at defending the pass. I want to be balanced this year.”
With an Aug. 20 Jamboree date against Flomaton approaching, Rutherford and the Panthers are beginning to sense the opportunity ahead of them.
“I am really excited about this year,” Rutherford said. “The kids are excited. We’ve worked mighty hard to make sure we’re strong.”