SHEFFIELD — The time is now for Brookside to turn things around.
Just three years ago, it looked like Brookside was ready to build on a promising 6-4 record in coach Paul Ferguson’s first year, but the Cardinals fell on hard times the last two seasons, winning just three games.
Now they’re looking to rebound in the rugged Stars Division of the Patriot Athletic Conference.
“I think I was a little spoiled that first year with a really, really good senior group, and they led us to a good season,” Ferguson said. “We’ve been trying to get back to that, trying to be consistent on the field and with the coaching staff.
“I think we have some athletes this year that can help us to get things going in the right direction, but it will certainly be tough in our division with the likes of Buckeye, Firelands, Black River and Keystone, who all seem to make the playoffs.”
If the Cardinals are going to be successful this year its going to start on the offensive and defensive lines with the likes of Malachi Sheffield and Tim Borgmann, who will fill up a lot of space.
Sheffield stands 6-foot-3 and weighs in at 210 pounds, while Borgman is also 6-3 but weighs 260.
In addition to plenty of size and brawn, both come in with an attitude that should be infectious throughout the team.
“The coaches have had us going full max during the offseason and during two-a-days to get us ready for the season,” Sheffield said. “Our intensity has been great so far this year and I think the pressure that the coaches have been putting on us will help.
“We know we have to get better this year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I’m seeing a big difference this year (on defense). Everyone wants to go at it and help us build as a team.”
Brookside definitely took its lumps on defense last season, giving up at least 35 points in all eight of its losses, while giving up an average of 52 as several games got away from the Cardinals in the second half.
“I think we have what we need to get the job done up front this year,” Borgman said. “We definitely are going to be more aggressive and going harder, so we aren’t soft on defense this year.
“We’ve worked so much harder in the offseason to help us be able to play better late in games. We had a better turnout for conditioning and we were focused on getting in shape for this season.”
While the offensive and defensive lines look to be in good hands, there will be some question marks on the offensive side of the ball with a lot of new faces at the skill positions.
The quarterback position was not settled going into the Cardinals’ scrimmage with Columbia last week but Open Door transfer Donovan Davis and Matt Thompson have been battling neck-and-neck to win the job.
“Donovan came here after Open Door did away with their football program and Matt wrestles here and plays soccer,” said Ferguson, who is taking over the Cards’ defense this year. “They both bring different skills, but whoever does win the job will definitely be on the field being so athletic.
“We have some better athletes this year and I think we’ll sneak up on some teams this year.”