August 12, 2017 06:38 PM
(ABC 6 News) – The RCTC Yellowjackets are gearing up for another season on the gridiron, with a new sense of purpose—and a new sense of family.
The Yellowjackets, coming off of a 6-5 2016 season where they failed to win a state championship for the first time since 2010, are entering their second season under the director of head coach Eric Waldstein.
Waldstein, who replaced Bill Quistorff following the 2015 season, said his first season was a learning experience for him as a coach. Waldstein said his team has “lots of athletic ability” and “playmakers,” but his focus right now is to get everyone familiar with one another.
“Right now, it’s everybody trying to get to know each other,” Waldstein said. “A little over half of the team is new guys. That’s the nature of junior college football, so we’re making sure everybody is getting to know each other and just learn the basic, and do the things that are needed to be done to be a part of the Yellowjackets program.”
Waldstein said he’s implemented various team building activities for his team in preparation for the 2017 season—it’s something Waldstein said he didn’t enjoy as a player, but quickly realized the importance of those activities as a head coach.
“Last year, we talked a lot about being a family, but we never really talked about what it is to be a family,” Waldstein said. “Part of our team building stuff, we talk about what it is to be a family.”
“(The other night) we did a speed dating activity where guys moved around, you got two minutes to talk to a new guy, then move to another guy, so they really got the chance to know each other. My goal is by week one or week two of the season, (all of the players) know each other by a nickname or they at least know each other and who they are.”
Going into the 2017 season, the Yellowjackets have a few key players returning on defense, as defensive tackle Ronald Wilson (11 sacks in 2017), defensive back Treevon Prater (NJCAA-best 12 interceptions), and linebacker Brandon Perce.
“(Brandon) Perce hands down is the best linebacker in the league and probably one of the ten best linebackers in the NJCAA,” Waldstein said. “We’re glad he’s back (for his sophomore season). Last year, we thought we were going to lose him to the (University of Colorado), but Colorado told him ‘hey, we want you to wait one more year,’ and they’ll have a spot for him in December. There’s no official offer, (Colorado) is probably waiting to make sure he gets through the season ok.”
“Luckily, we have (Perce) back for another year, so we’re excited about that. He’s just a dominant force on the field. He’s big, he’s physical, he’s really fast.”
Offensively in 2016, the Yellowjackets averaged 30.7 points per game (26th in NJCAA), down from 50.2 points per game in 2015, but Waldstein likes what the Yellowjackets have in the trenches this season.
“We’ve got a better offensive line this year, so I think we’ll be a lot more physical up front,” Waldstein said. “Offensively, we’re going to be young, we do have some experience coming back at running back, so I think we’ll be able to run the ball really well this year.”
The talent for the Yellowjackets to build around and onto is in place, Waldstein said all he needs to do is make “minor adjustments.”
“We’re not changing a lot from what we did last year, probably just tweaking a few things here and there,” Waldstein said. “We need to make sure we got the right guys in the right positions, and put them in position to make plays.”
Waldstein’s team will scrimmage the University of St. Thomas on August 19. They’ll open the regular season at Northland Community & Technical College on Sept. 2.
Updated: August 12, 2017 06:38 PM
Created: August 12, 2017 04:54 PM
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