Payton Printz’s rebuilding project at Southeastern is following a blueprint he isn’t shy talking about.
The foundation started with a culture change in work ethic — weight lifting three times a week at 6 a.m.
“It’s a bunch of hard-nosed kids,” Printz said.
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The next step is to beat all of the teams you know you should. The Trojans did that for the third time this season with a 34-6 victory over winless Catholic Central on Friday night.
Another step for the Trojans (3-5, 2-1 OHC South) is to surpass the 4-6 finish of Printz’s first season last year. To do that the Trojans must win at Madison Plains (2-6) next week and finish with a home victory over Greenon (4-4). Greenon defeated Plains 19-8 on Friday.
“We’ve got a chance to be a .500 team,” Printz said.
Greenon is an improved team and plays Cedarville (1-7) next week. The Knights could be playing for a winning record when they come to South Charleston with talented sophomore quarterback Cade Rice.
“Offensively they’re very, very talented,” Printz said. “If we get them on a dry track, they’re going to be hard to beat. We can get them. It just depends on what team shows up for us.”
Yet another step in the rebuilding process is playing well in the second half against good teams. The Trojans were tied 0-0 against OHC North power Mechanicsburg at halftime but lost 44-0. Last week they led South power Greeneview 14-7 at halftime. They lost 42-14.
“They get in situations where they get a chance to finish and they don’t know how because they haven’t done it in such a long time,” Printz said. “Winning is so difficult.”
Against Central, however, winning was all but assured by halftime.
The Trojans faced fourth-and-22 on their first possession when punter Charlie Bertemes turned a fake into a 23-yard run and a first down. Two plays later Bertemes caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Wade Eriksen. Before the first quarter ended Eriksen threw touchdown passes of 9 and 68 yards to his brother Tucker Eriksen. In the second quarter, Aiden Hartman scored on a 4-yard run after a blocked punt gave the Trojans the ball at the Central 12.
Wade Eriksen is a freshman who Printz has put in charge of the offense. He’s made some big plays, but he’s also made freshman mistakes. His two interceptions Friday put his season total at 17.
“He’s forcing it,” Printz said. “He’s a freshman and thinks he has to put the team on his back and carry us every game, and he doesn’t.”
The Trojans start only five seniors (most of them both ways), but overall this is a young team. Printz liked what he saw Friday from sophomore running back Tanner Stoops, who ran for some long gains. He likes how freshman Mason Coil has become a kick returner the past couple weeks who will catch the ball in traffic. And sophomore Aaron Flores had three sacks Friday to run his season total to 10.
With two weeks left in the season, Printz will be focused on his team getting better. After the game, he sat in his office and waited on the game video to upload to his tablet so he could start looking for those areas that need improvement this week.
“We’ve had a couple of really good weeks of practice,” he said. “Hopefully we continue in the winning ways and get five wins.”