Transitional period over, Boyertown looking to contend in 2015

He knows his boys can hit.

That’s not in question for Boyertown’s second year head coach George Parkinson.

Boyertown will look to bounce back after a 5-5 season in 2014.
Boyertown will look to bounce back after a 5-5 season in 2014.

What is in question, however, is how his team can come together to improve off a 5-5 season in Parkinson’s debut year.

“I wanted this camp to focus on more of the mental than the physical,” Parkinson said. “Our boys our physical, they can hit, they aren’t afraid to hit. The biggest thing is the mental attitude, and we talked about that this morning in the team meeting. We wanted to come together as a team and there’s nobody above anyone else, including seniors.

“Everybody’s attitudes have been on the same page. We talked about how we’re going to have a captain at the sophomore level, the junior level and the senior level. We’re all going to be one team, and if these guys can buy into that, then we’re going to be successful.”

The buy-in was evident in Monday morning’s training session in temperatures that rose to 92 degrees by the time the activities ended. Players were upbeat throughout, gathering between each training session for a quick breakdown before sprinting to the next station.

Energy like that is typical on Day 1 of a two-week grind, but a significant buzz could be felt throughout the training session.

Are there loftier expectations than the 5-5 record the Bears posted a season ago where it averaged toward the middle of the area in points for (17.8) and points against (24.4)?

There should be.

There’s no more adjustment period. Parkinson finally feels acclimated to his new surroundings after what he called his first season “a tough transitional period.”

“This year, this feels a lot better,” the former St. Pius X coach said. “It’s exciting because a lot of these guys on this team I coached here at Boyertown Jr. High East when I took four years off from coaching high school. Most of these guys I’ve coached under my system and it makes it easier this year because they’re familiar with me, they know what to expect from me and I know what to expect from them.”

Those familiar with Parkinson’s system are seniors Mike Banks and Lawrence Garnett.

Garnett will look to build off his torrid finish in 2014, where he finished with 655 yards passing and 669 yards rushing with 13 touchdowns. His weapons will differ drastically. Gone are receivers Justin Siejk, Dalton Hughes and tight end Anthony Borzillo. He will have to rely on a new group of Jaydon Bray, Jerry Kapp, Chris Berry and Dan Heller. It’s a group he’s confident with, same with Parkinson.

“I just have to believe that my line will give me the blocks I need and that everything I throw out there my receivers will catch. They’re really talented,” Garnett said.

“I can tell you right now I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat with receivers,” Parkinson added. I think we got great receivers across the board. I think sophomore Jerry Kapp has been outstanding in the offseason. Senior Jaydon Bray really showed a lot this year. Chris Berry is going to play receiver and running back and has tremendous hands. Dan Heller has also been doing a great job, he has tremendous hands. He committed himself all summer and got so much better from committing to the whole offseason program.”

Banks, winner of the Bears’ Outstanding Offensive Lineman award in 2014, looks to anchor a line that could comprise David Terry, Colin Black, Quinn Hair and Alex Black.

“Any of those guys can get in there and get it done,” Parkinson said. “That I think is our biggest challenge offensively is finding who to play where. I think that once we settle that, we’ll be in good shape.”

“We just have to come together as a team,” Banks said. “That’s the most important thing. Working hard is good, learning the system is good, but if you’re not a team, it’s not going to work. That’s come a long way this season. Most of these guys have been here all summer anyway so we’re already starting to bond. Some of the new guys are getting  used to it. We’re just going to keep working at it.”

Old Face in a New Place

Longtime OJR head coach Tom Barr has taken a position as a Boyertown assistant, a hire that Parkinson said paid dividends quickly. “I’m extremely excited about Tom. He’s an outstanding coach and he brings a lot to the table. He gets it done and gets it done with passion. He gets the most out of the kids and he also brought some good ideas to the table.”

Barr compiled a 110-103 mark during his 18-year tenure at OJR, capped off by a 3-9 overall finish in 2014.

One of the Boys

Parkinson was also high on the only female on the squad, Melody Demou. Demou, listed at 5-6, 108-pounds, is listed as a kicker on Boyertown’s roster. “She gives 100 percent the whole time,” Parkinson said. “They’re very respectful of her and they don’t see her any differently. We want her to be a part of the team and want her to feel a part of the team. We’re not taking that approach, ‘Oh, we have a girl on her team’. We’re one team and we’ll accept anyone on it.

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