In high school sports, momentum is everything.
From period to period or half to half, as the case may be, momentum often determines the winners and losers sporting event.
As the winter sports season approaches in Youngsville, the coaches of the boys basketball and wrestling programs are hopeful momentum carries over from season to season.
Times Observer file photo
Gatta get back to work
Youngsville’s Rocco Gatta (13) shakes hands with fans after a football game this past fall season. With a 10-0 start and Region 2 championship in football, Youngsville High School hopes to ride that momentum to improved varsity wrestling, boys basketball, and even girls basketball, seasons this winter. Gatta joined the basketball team this winter.
During the fall, the Eagles' football program completed a perfect 10-0 regular season. That perfect mark united the small town and made the name Youngsville synonymous with something it isn't used to being associated with...
The success of the football team has - perhaps unfairly - added to the expectations of the boys' winter sports programs.
Both second-year boys basketball coach Ray Neidrick and first-year wrestling coach Scott Ishman mentioned the success of the football team when being interviewed about the upcoming season.
"That's certainly a tough act to follow," said Ishman. "You can't do any better than perfect."
According to Ishman, the winning attitude has transferred into the weight room as his wrestlers have entered this season with a new-found work ethic when hitting the weights.
"One thing the football team had even before the season started was an outstanding weight lifting program," added Ishman. "Being bigger, faster and stronger is always going to help you no matter what sport you're participating in. We've tried to carry that dedication to the weights from the football field to the wrestling room."
Despite the heightened expectations and the tough act to follow laid down by the Eagles football team, both coaches don't believe there is any added pressure as the new season gets underway.
"Not really pressure, no," said Neidrick. "More than anything we're hoping the excitement generated from the football season carries over onto the basketball court.
"The school and the community greeted the football team with so much enthusiasm as the wins started piling up. If we can win some games and create that same type of enthusiasm, it will only help us in what we're trying to accomplish."
If the wrestling and boys basketball teams are able to duplicate the success of the Eagles' football program, it will have to do so with a largely new cast of characters.
Of the 31 players on the roster of the Youngsville football team, only four participate in winter sports. Juniors Rocco Gatta and Dan McLaughlin are members of the boys' basketball team while Stephen Beattie and Stone Sivak wrestle for the Eagles.
However, the remaining members of the football team won't be far away. Several of them - Cory Craig, Sam Lucas, Dalton Maze and others - are founding members and unofficial leaders of Youngsville's raucous student cheering section, the "Eagles Nest."
A turnaround for either winter sports program may not be what pundits would term "likely." After all, Ishman expects that the Eagles' wrestling team will have trouble fielding a full team, and Youngsville's boys' basketball team finished 1-21 last year.
That being said, not many people would've predicted a perfect regular season for Eagles on the gridiron - especially after the team finished 2-8 in 2010 with a roster largely unchanged.
"We finished right around .500 last year so an improvement like the football team showed may not seem within reach," said Ishman. "But there probably weren't many people thinking our football team could go 10-0 after being 2-8 last year.
"It's going to be difficult because we may be giving up three weight classes going into each match," he added. "But if we can beat our opposition 'on the mat,' I think it's going to be a successful season."
Above all, the winter coaches at Youngsville are hoping that their teams can draw from the success seen in the fall and learn what it takes to be winners.
"One thing our guys can take from the football team is that dedication can turn everything around," said Ishman. "It's going to take hard work and dedication, but if you put in the effort, the reward will come. There is no better reward than the type that comes from hard work."
Neidrick thinks that, despite last year's difficult record, his team is on the right track. He points to the similarities between the football team and his 2011-12 Eagles.
"That football team had a great group of seniors who grew up playing together and learned to be successful," said Neidrick. "Our team has a solid group of juniors that have been playing together in this system for a couple of years now.
"One thing they can learn from the football team is the power of sticking together and playing for one another. If you do that and put the work in, anything is possible."