SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

November 8, 2013

Moving The Chains: Teams out of playoffs still have plenty to play for

The temperatures are dropping. The wind is picking up with each passing hour. The days are getting shorter.

Keeping high school football players — who either saw their postseason dreams dashed last weekend or never qualified for the playoffs in the first place — motivated between now and Thanksgiving might seem like a thankless task.

But according to area coaches, it’s not as hard as you might think.

“The sting of being knocked out of the playoffs hurts, but it needs to be pushed aside,” said Danvers head coach Sean Rogers. “Our guys have worked too hard for too long to cash in the rest of the season.”

Seniors can see the end of their careers in sight; there are just three games, totaling 12 quarters, remaining. For most of them, this will be the last time in their lives they put on the pads, strap on the helmets and hit anything with an opposing color jersey in a game that counts. Sentiment, reflection and surely a flood of emotion will wash over them between now and when Thanksgiving dinner is served.

For the younger guys, the benefits of these final games are twofold. For established underclassmen starters, it’s the chance not only to improve themselves (and possibly their standing in the eyes of college football coaches), but coaches are also looking at who might best lead their teams as captains in 2014. For spot starters and backups, it’s their opportunity to impress the coaches with a nonstop motor or by showing that continual improvement over the course of the year will continue into the offseason and right into next season.

And of course, there’s the simple matter of playing for pride. You put on the jersey and you represent not only yourself and your family, but also your school and community. If nothing else, you play for pride.

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