U.S. Grant’s football players had to improvise early Saturday morning.
Waiting at the school for an 8:15 departure to the Westmoore 7-on-7 Showcase, the Generals were forced to ride with coaches and parents in vehicles when the bus failed to show.
“It happens a lot,” sophomore Andrew Meyer said.
Even if it took some extra effort to make the tournament, the Generals were there competing, which is something rarely seen in past summers at passing leagues or team camps.
It’s a positive step in the right direction under new coach Matt Lane, a former assistant at Noble.
“Fundamentally, we’re raw but we’re learning,” Lane said. “That’s what I’ve preached the last few weeks we’ve been out here doing 7-on-7. They get frustrated when they’re losing and giving up big plays, but I tell them it’s all a part of the learning process.”
U.S. Grant went 0-7 in the tournament, which Westmoore won with a 40-13 victory over Lincoln Christian, but improved in each 21-minute game with its 15 players.
That’s all Lane is asking for as he takes over a program that is moving out of Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association district play for the next four years, as part of an agreement between Oklahoma City Public Schools and the OSSAA designed to rebuild the program.
Lane has already improved things for the Generals.
They had spring practice in May with an average of 35 players each day after not practicing the year before. They also went to Little Axe twice last week along with Bethel for 7-on-7 workouts. Summer pride workouts also begin Monday.
Also, Lane said the school administration approved in-school practice time this year for the first time.
“I feel like people get along better with the coaches and can connect better with the coaches this year, because last year they would yell at them and didn’t really like the coaches,” senior Mike Powell said. “I think it’s going to be to get the people out here, because they still think that even though they’re not in it they’re still the same old Grant.”
Perhaps this is a different U.S. Grant team under Lane. Opposing coaches continuously praised the Generals at the tournament for participating.
Even if the results weren’t there on the scoreboard, things appear to be improving.
“I think the biggest challenge is getting them to believe they can win and then the next biggest challenge is getting the kids to come out and stay out,” Lane said. “The kids are coming and are excited about it because they want to win and get better.”