Robertson, seniors lead new-look Lumberjacks

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A glaring August sun glistens on the new striped football helmets, and dust rises from the once-lush practice field. Cleats, sun and August dehydration have withered the field down to a hard, dusty surface, with cleat tracks scattered from pylon to pylon.  Hoarse and booming, head coach Rick Robertson’s displeased yell is heard across the practice field and out onto Shafor Boulevard.

In Robertson’s practices, discussion is often held in a chilling tone.“I won’t deny that I’m animated and demonstrative. Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm,” Robertson said via telephone.Stepping into the head coaching position last spring, Robertson comes in with a history. He boasts a 129-94 record, and hails from Springfield, an elite D-I program up north.

“I enjoy what I do, that’s why I do this. It’s not about the money,” said Robertson.

Senior tailback and safety Trent J. is returning for his fourth and final year of varsity football for the Jacks, and he will be entering his ninth year of his football career, which started in the third grade.

Now, Trent J. leads a much bigger team. A team that, led by senior captains such as Trent J., Noah R., Max B. and Dan R., expects greatness as a part of their weekly routine.

“We know we can win,” starting quarterback Max B. (10) said via telephone.

Max B., the Jack’s new quarterback, not only adds decision-making skills to the Jacks’ offense, but he also adds rare leadership as an underclassman.

“He’s pretty shy, but on the field he will get into you if you’re not doing what you need to be doing,” Trent J. said via telephone.

While the team’s leaders remain, the routine in which the team seeks greatness has been greatly altered by Robertson in his first year coaching the Lumberjacks.

Instead of wearing matching dry-fit tee shirts and shorts on the Thursday before game day, the Jacks now dress in full pads. But coach, it’s a walk-through day, isn’t it?

“[Robertson] believes that we will work harder when we wear pads,” Trent J. said.

Along with an upped intensity before game days, Robertson has instilled intensity elsewhere. “He will push us in the weight room,” Max B. said. “It’s a lot more intense. Everybody’s gotten stronger.”

Along with lifting over the summer, the new-look Jacks also worked on their agility and conditioning on a weekly basis, something that the team did very little of before the Robertson regime.

Robertson hired some new coaches to add to the intense atmosphere, including gym/health teacher and former West Virginia quarterback Andy Keating.

Of Keating, Max B. stated the obvious.“He is very intense; he yells a lot,” Banke said.

While the new coaching staff’s verbal intensity is a novelty to the program, Robertson has also added some new offensive schemes to the team’s playbook.

“This year we go no-huddle and it is a more up-tempo offense,” Max B. said.

You can also expect to see some trick plays revealed this autumn, as the Jacks have already begun to experiment with reverse pass plays and ‘flea-flickers’.

With all of these changes to the playbook and mindset of the team, the team’s leaders have been left with the responsibility of guiding the team through the first season of a new era in Oakwood football.

Some players lead differently than others, though. While Max B. is viewed by some as more of a vocal leader on the gridiron, Trent J. is viewed as a leader of a different breed.

“Trent’s a good leader by example. He works hard and he plays hard. He truly plays the game with a passion,” Robertson said.

The Jacks look to improve last year’s 5-5 record, and Robertson’s new coaching style might just do the trick. The intensity of the practices has begun to instill attributes into the players that Oakwood boys generally don’t possess.

“The kids are starting to develop a little bit of that nasty side to them,” Robertson said.

As the Jacks march out onto the field this fall, the swift autumn breeze will bring a new-found change to Mack Hummon Stadium. This change starts with a deep, gravelly voice, and a steaming red face against stark white hair.

The Robertson era has begun.

Grant Pepper


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