Buzz from the Hive
New column gives insider’s look at Yellowjacket football
The Newark Yellowjackets just completed their first week of preseason practice, capped off with a scrimmage on Saturday. Head coach Barry Zehnder said he has learned a lot about the approximately 50 players who came out for the team, as well as a few things about himself.
Four things he learned about his players …
1. “They are very hard working, without a doubt The new stuff we are putting in – a new offense, a new defense, new special teams stuff – they are working extremely hard trying to pick that up.
2. “They are 100 percent on board with becoming the leaders of the school and trying to be a positive thing for the community to see that there are good things going on at Newark High School.”
3. “I feel like they all get along. A lot of times you get the classes, like juniors or seniors, hanging out by themselves. But this group is really coming together and mixing together and they all seem to get along very well.
4. “The excitement is there. These kids are excited about what we are doing and how we are going about things. The wins haven’t been there the last few years and it’s easy to not get excited but they’ve put that aside and are focused on this year.”
What the head coach learned about himself …
“There are things you want to pull from every program you’ve been a part of,” he said of his playing days and previous stops as a coach. “You want to pull all those things and implement them now, but I realized quickly you have to make your team feel that they are part of what you are installing and that they feel like they own it and feel good about it as players.
“I’ve always been kind of a more serious coach. I’ve never been a jovial, joking person but I’ve tried to make myself better at being a little more loose and trying to create some more easy going relationships.”
Saturday’s first scrimmage ...
Newark’s first of two scrimmages was Saturday against a Tatnall team that finished 6-4 last season and lost only one starter from that team. Overall, Zehnder was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We’ve been implementing a lot of competitions at practice,” he explained. “At the scrimmage, it jumped out to me that that has worked. Things like not every play is going to go your way but how do you respond when it doesn’t go your way and other things like that. The nonstarters competed, which I like seeing. We’ve talked a lot about competing and they’ve really responded to that.”
Coming up this week ...
Unlike most teams, Newark has elected to not scrimmage this week and instead use the week to “really get after it,” according to Zehnder. And then on Saturday, Newark will have an intra-squad scrimmage that they are terming a “compete for your job” scrimmage. They will then treat the third week of preseason just like a game week heading into the scrimmage against St. Elizabeth on Sept. 1.
A new leadership team ...
Off the field, Zehnder has created a leadership council. Two members of that council are seniors Tyreek Booker and Brian Sutton.
“Brian is one of the hardest working kids I have ever coached,” Zehnder said. “He is also a great representation of our program and Newark High School.
Booker, he said, is starting to realize his potential.
“He has a very good chance for somebody to offer him a scholarship to play at the next level,” Zehnder said. “He is always encouraging his teammates and is becoming respected because of his demeanor, not just his abilities.”
Playing for the tradition ...
Booker is a two-way tackle who has earned a varsity letter all three years.
“I love playing for Newark because of the tradition,” Booker said. “I always wanted to play for Coach Simpson and in front of alumni that came through Newark. This tradition has had many great players come through this football program and when I’m done playing for Newark I want to be known as one of the great players in Coach Simpson’s last years as head coach and Coach Zehnder’s first year as head coach at Newark. I love playing for Newark football and walking out of The Hive pumped up on Friday nights. There’s nothing like it.”
Sutton echoed the thoughts about tradition.
“I love playing for Newark because of the tradition behind it,” said Sutton, who plays running back and linebacker. “You are not only playing for yourself out there on Friday nights, you play for everyone who has come before you and everyone who comes after you. You can ask any alumni, and they will say the same thing about the tradition of Newark football.”
The players’ thoughts on this year’s team ...
“This year’s Newark football team might not be the biggest or the strongest like in years past, but I feel that we are going to play hard and with a lot of heart,” Booker said. “This year’s team wants to learn and get better. I feel that this year’s Newark football team can make things happen and win games this year.”
“I think our team this year will shock a lot of people because no one expects anything from us this year,” Sutton said. “Our line this year isn’t the biggest or strongest in the state but they will be the most technically sound. Our receiving core has great speed and hands and our running backs run hard and will fight for every yard. We have a very solid defense that is very physical and flies to the ball every play. The whole team and coaches believe that we will have a very good year this year.”
Next up ...
Newark has an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday afternoon, open to the public. The second and final scrimmage is Sept. 1 at home against St. Elizabeth. See Newark’s complete schedule at www.yellowjacketssports. com.
The Buzz from the Hive will be posted online each Monday morning during the high school football season and also in Friday’s print edition. It will include some game analysis and exclusive quotes from Newark High football coach Barry Zehnder and select members of the team after they’ve had a chance to watch game film, evaluate their performance, and begin preparation for the next game.