Patriots aim to turn season around at Homecoming


BENNINGTON >> After an 0-3 start, Mount Anthony football coach John Martin is trying to get his team back to basics.

"We're not changing things, we're talking about stances, splits, making sure we're doing the right thing [with our] assignments," said Martin as the team practiced on Wednesday. "We want to do all those things to make sure we're on the right page. The kids have taken the focus and understand that we have to get the little things down because once that happens, things will open up."

They'll put that newfound focus to the test tonight at 7 p.m. as the Patriots host Rice on Homecoming at Spinelli Field.

"Homecoming is nice, the kids are always a little more amped up," Martin said. "There's a little more distraction. There's a girls [soccer] game before our game, so we don't get the pregame routine and there's things at school every day. It's our goal to keep them loose [during practice] but also focusing on what's important."

The Green Knights and the Patriots are two of the three winless teams in Division I. They lost to BFA-St. Albans by two points in Week 1, then lost by 10 to Burlington in Week 2.

Rice is coming off a good defensive performance, allowing only six points against undefeated CVU, but the Knights offense couldn't get any points themselves and lost 6-0.

On the Mount Anthony side, they have lost 49-23 to Middlebury, 49-10 to Essex and 40-14 to Colchester.

"Rice should be a competitive [game], we're both in the same boat in terms of the win-loss record, and we're trying to get ourselves on the board in the correct column," Martin said. "For us it's not so much about changes to the X's and O's, it's our efficiency and effectiveness. We need to be better in our execution, more efficient and that's a lot of what we've worked on for the past couple of days."

MAU quarterback Ryan O'Neill has gotten his bearings through his first three games and has done a nice job of getting receivers such as Will Fischer, Austin Gordon and Cole Bushee involved in the offense.

"Ryan is a great leader, he's getting the guys engaged and doing all the right things on and off the field," Martin said. "For him it's still just getting used to the varsity speed."

Martin said O'Neill has a lot of freedom to run the offense, but the coaching staff is trying to narrow the scope of the play-calling a bit.

"We're trying to take a little off his plate so he doesn't have to think too much about what's happening, just get out there and play," Martin said. "Hopefully it'll make it easier for himself as the game goes on. He's a gamer, wants to play and compete and that's what you want for all the guys on the field."

Defensively, the Patriots have allowed 138 points in the first three games, but Martin said Rice is similar in size and speed.

"Rice doesn't have the imposing factor that the other teams do that we've faced so far," Martin said. "Rice is more like us, a little smaller up front, more of a spread team, they want to get guys in space. We need to make sure our fundamentals are sound, tackle well and make something from our opportunities."


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