SPRINGFIELD – Scott Rolf likes the numbers associated with his Northeastern football team before the start of the season.
He has 49 players in the program — a high number for the Ohio Heritage Conference — and he has 13 seniors. The Jets’ roster averaged seven seniors the past two years.
“That’s going to be nice just having that many older kids, and how hard most of them have been working, not just the last two weeks, but ever since last season,” said Rolf, who is in his ninth season at Northeastern.
The seniors don’t like the taste of a 3-7 season in 2013, even if all seven losses came to teams with winning records. Plus, five of the losses were to playoff teams — four in the OHC and Kenton Ridge.
“We want to be more like that,” Rolf said. “They want to win more and they want to be better.”
The other important number to Rolf is four. It represents his four primary goals every year: to make the players into better men, enjoy and learn more football, win the respect of opponents and work as a team.
“I think if you do all that kind of stuff, the wins will come,” he said.
Winning the OHC and going to the playoffs in Division V are certainly goals as well.
“Those things are definitely in there, but they’re toward the bottom,” Rolf said.
The Jets will be an option team again, using wishbone formations and the shotgun to keep defenses off balance.
Running the offense will be senior quarterback Alex Robbins. Rolf is also counting on running back Troy Clay and senior center Matt Seibold to be leaders along with Robbins.
The biggest X and O change is on defense. After running the 4-4, the Jets will run their base defense out of a 4-3 alignment.
Rolf used the 4-3 when he was defensive coordinator at Clinton-Massie. When he came to Northeastern, most of his attention was on offense. His defensive staff was oriented toward the 4-4, so that’s what the Jets ran. Because of some staff changes this year, Rolf decided to go back to the 4-3.
“I decided to go back to what we had done there because we had a lot of success,” Rolf said. “It was something I picked up and kind of created from things I picked up at different clinics. It worked well and I know it.”
Senior linebacker Mitchell McCorkle, a four-year starter, will anchor the defense. Senior Clayton Farquer will be the leader on the defensive line.
So far, so good on the new defense. In three scrimmages, the Jets allowed only two touchdowns.
An advantage the deep roster affords the Jets is fewer two-way starters. Rolf expects some linemen to play both ways, but they will rotate.
“We’re kind of big on substituting this year and we’re trying to keep all of our linemen fresh,” Rolf said.
Rolf likes the renewed enthusiasm he sees and the growing confidence. His goal is to get the team to follow his goals and let the wins take care of themselves.
“These guys have talked a lot about wanting to be good … just prove it,” Rolf said. “We don’t want to talk about what we can do, we just want to go out and do it. It started with weight lifting. You want to be good and win more games, prove it in the weight room. Prove it at camp. When you don’t have to come, come anyways.”