Togetherness and unselfishness are two attributes common among all winning teams.
For this year's Berea High School football team, which features only eight returning letterwinners, possessing the valued characteristics will be essential to being competitive.
"We need to understand the importance of self-sacrifice," fifth-year Berea head coach Matt Wilson said when describing what it will take for the Braves to improve upon the 5-5 record they posted in 2011. "We need to give a little more to the team and care less about the individual. We have talent, but it will take everyone for us to have success."
Berea is embarking upon a season of what Wilson has dubbed "Ironman Football," with a multitude of student-athletes expected to play both offense and defense.
"We have some talent, but we are not deep with experienced players," Wilson said. "Early on, we will have to be two-way players and log a lot of minutes."
Wilson's goals for the 2012 campaign are broad and general.
"Our goals for this season are what they always are and that is to be disciplined and to compete in every game," Wilson said. "We want teams to know they played a tough game each and every week. If you play that way, you'll win many games."
Captains Dan Medvetz, Josh Cox and Brady Spigiel have at least one specific goal - beat Midpark on Oct. 24 to even the all-time series between the rival schools before they join together to form one school next academic year.
"It marks the end of a 50-year-old rivalry between the two schools with Midpark leading the all-time series by one game," Wilson said. "If we win, it ends in a tie as we combine schools. That is a pretty big deal to our kids and our team."
Wilson recently answered questions about this year's squad and its upcoming season for WKYC's usatodayhss.com Web site.
WKYC's usatodayhss.com: What was your message to your team during your first meeting of fall camp?
Wilson: Improve on last year. We had been 0-10 in 2010 and we went 5-5 this past year with a real chance to win seven or possibly eight games. We lost a good core group of kids, but we return a very talented group as well.
WKYC: What is the biggest question/uncertainty about your team that you hope to have answered by the start of conference play?
Wilson: We need to develop depth at all positions. We have a nice starting group on both sides of the ball, but we need to get more depth across the board.
WKYC: Who are your team's projected leaders/captains this season? What do you expect each to bring to the team?
Wilson: Dan Medvetz is a two-year captain [who is a] hard worker, [and] great player [who] always pushes everyone around him. Josh Cox is a first-year captain [who serves as a] vocal and inspirational leader. Brady Spigiel is a first-year captain [who is] a solid, steady and cool customer. [He is a ] good organizer and is very reliable.
WKYC: Which newcomer on your team has the greatest chance to become a household name by the end of the season? Why?
Wilson: Sophomore Justin Harris. He is an explosive player and will be a return guy as well as a part-time running back, wide receiver and defensive back. He is very fast and can make big plays with his athleticism.
WKYC: What do you expect your team's greatest strength to be this season?
Wilson: We should be solid on defense, [as we're] returning seven starters. We were very solid last season, and we expect to repeat that and improve in some areas.
WKYC: What is your team's biggest weakness right now?
Wilson: Right now, our biggest weakness would be on the offensive line because we have some injuries and we graduated six senior players from the offensive line last season. We have some young kids, but they need to grow up fast and we need to get our older guys healthy.
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