Wis­sahickon tak­ing awork-first men­tal­ity

The Colonial - - OPINION - By DANIEL CARVALHO

LOWER GWYNEDD — The month of Au­gust is a piv­otal span of prac­tices, team meet­ings, and weight lift­ing train­ing for any high school foot­ball pro­gram.

In the months prior, play­ers are busy get­ting their bod­ies ac­cli­mated for the repet­i­tive clash­ing of forces and their neu­rons read­ied for the bevy of schemes from of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive play­books.

Ev­ery player and coach knows that when mid-month hits, when train­ing camp gears up and freshly-cut grass foot­ball fields be­come the ma­jor­ity of daily ex­is­tence for the next two-plus weeks, a clean slate can be the best rem­edy af­ter fall­ing short the pre­vi­ous year.

Wis­sahickon head coach Jeff Cappa knows the feel­ing.

Af­ter tak­ing over the pro­gram three years ago and en­ter­ing his fourth sea­son at the helm of the Tro­jans, Cappa and staff will con­tinue to dis­ci­pline a ris­ing squad ready to have an­other go at qual­i­fy­ing for district play­offs.

Take two years ago, when the Tro­jans capped off a his­tor­i­cal 8-4, 6-2 (SOL Amer­i­can) sea­son with their first-ever district play­off win over No. 1-seeded Down­ing­town East, the men of Troy had be­come a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent.

But af­ter a 2013 sea­son where the team went 6-4 and 5-2 in con­fer­ence play, fall­ing short of the play­offs was a tough pill to swal­low.

“Last year’s team there was some dis­ap­point­ing parts of the year. How­ever, we fin­ished re­ally strong… We won five of our last six games,” Cappa ex­plained.

“Af­ter we have changed the ex­pec­ta­tion, we don’t even talk about last year’s games or teams. We are mov­ing for­ward 100 per­cent and our kids know that and our kids have re­ally bought into that.

“We told our team that those losses came from not work­ing hard enough.”

Not work­ing hard enough is a trait that Cappa and Co. won’t tol­er­ate in the locker room. Ath­letic abil­ity aside, per­son­al­i­ties play a ma­jor role in the makeup of Wis­sahickon’s chem­istry.

“We changed a lot of our philoso­phies in the off­sea­son,” Cappa said. “We kicked a few guys off the team that weren’t buy­ing into the way we were do­ing things.

“We’re hold­ing ev­ery player ac­count­able on and off the field.”

Re­silience, too, and the abil­ity for play­ers to bounce back when faced with ad­ver­sity is a de­sired qual­ity from a coach­ing stand­point.

“What I’m look­ing for­ward to is a team that’s re- silient,” Cappa said.

“They faced fail­ure in the off­sea­son and they’ve got to learn how to bounce back from those things.”

From the gym, to the prac­tice field, to the meet­ing room, the agenda on the Wis­sahickon cam­pus is to always show up to prac­tice with a work-first men­tal­ity.

“It’s a tough thing to do at a school like Wis­sahickon,” Cappa ex­plained. “Be­ing a AAAA school, we’re re­ally small num­bers-wise so our guys re­ally fight be- cause they go both ways and a lot of them go three ways be­cause they’re on spe­cial teams as well.

“We got some re­ally tough kids, so it’s just a mat­ter of them learn­ing what it takes.”

Giv­ing all you’ve got can be the fine line between win­ning and los­ing games in any sport. But leav­ing it all out on the field and shred­ding any ounce of doubt that you didn’t give it your all can be the dif­fer­ence between fall­ing short of goals and ex­pec­ta­tions, and com­pet­ing for a shot at a con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship and play­off berth.

“I’m try­ing to get the guys to re­al­ize go 100 mph,” Cappa said.

“You should be ex­hausted af­ter three, four, five plays. You should be if you’re go­ing as hard as you can.

“So that’s what we’re re­ally push­ing.”

ADRIANN HOFF/DI­GIAL FIRST ME­DIA

Coach Jeff Cappa talks Ja­son Caso dur­ing foot­ball prac­tice.

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