Macayla Cramer

LB/TE Aidan Cooper takes down a Reeths Puffer Rocket at a home game on Sept. 13. Cooper, as well as others, have worked hard the last two years on varsity to make Grand Haven football better.

Just another night

Varsity football team does not waver from the structure head coach Joe Nelson has implemented in practice and under the lights even in the wake of homecoming week.

November 7, 2019

It’s Sunday. It’s 5:30 a.m. You’re probably still asleep and that’s okay because you had a big week with a few tests. But off in the quiet halls of GHHS, with the aromatic smell of fresh-brewed coffee spilling into the air, the football coaches of Grand Haven High huddle up in the athletic conference room around a table. They’re planning practice for the upcoming week.

Later that day, players watch Hudl (a site they can watch films of their opponents on) in bed as they dread getting up to prepare for the competition on Friday. 

As the week trudges on, the coaches stick to the plan devised around that table. Monday brings players a review from the coaches about the previous week with things to work on. During Tuesday’s practice, the coaches bring some intensity in the form of snaps and speed drills. At practice on Wednesday, the intensity heightens as coaches push their athletes to perform better, and on Thursday, the team walks through the game waiting for them the next day. 

“Obviously we all want to compete and there’s nothing like a Friday night football night,” Nelson said. “The intensity, the fun, the drama, everything about it is awesome.”

— Joe Nelson

And it repeats. Such is the life of a Buccaneer football player. 

Nelson’s assistants help him to provide leadership for the boys as well as direction. Additionally, they (and his captains) help him achieve his goals for the team. 

Senior captains Austin Broemer, Alex Kapala, Owen Krizan and Connor Worthington have worked hard to cultivate a culture surrounding their team, both at practice and under the lights. 

“I try to get everyone fired up, but not too much because everyone does it differently,” Krizan said. “I think there’s some things you can do as a team to get fired up like running out onto the field and things like that.” 

In the wake of homecoming week, when school spirit is at an all-time high, one might wonder how the coaching staff varies practice for the “big” game which caps off the rush of school spirit and Buccaneer pride felt by many throughout the week. The short answer: they don’t.

“During homecoming week, we’re cognizant of the extra activities that our players are involved in and we try to make a little bit of concession here and there,” Nelson said. “But we still try to be as normal as possible. I don’t think one game should deserve more, because if we can give more, then why didn’t we give that much to begin with?” 

Nelson believes his strategy is paying off. Since taking over three years ago, he has worked to implement a routine regimen for his athletes. This way, the players know what to expect for practice, even down to the simple things like their dismissal time.

“There’s a balance between too much and not enough,” Nelson said. “I feel really good about how we’ve been doing things these last three years.” 

Krizan has other ideas for how to prepare for a game. In addition to the effort he and his teammates put in at practice and getting the team focused and hyped up, he has a superstition. 

“I hang my necklace and bracelet in the same spot every week,” Krizan said. “I’m pretty superstitious, so I like to stay in the same routine. If we lose, I try to move my things a little bit to see if that works.” 

Known as a breakdown, this chaotic chant takes place at the end of games typically to celebrate. After celebrating a 24-0 shutout victory, the Bucs are proud of a job well done and are hopeful for a good season and playoff berth.

But no matter how the team as a whole prepares, whether differently for individual athletes or similarly as a team, they all share a common goal: to win. 

“Obviously we all want to compete and there’s nothing like a Friday night football night,” Nelson said. “The intensity, the fun, the drama, everything about it is awesome.” 

Buccaneer fans also are united on that front. True fans have been there for the Bucs time and time again, and they always will be. For the players, that means a lot. 

“On Friday nights, it’s fun to have the whole community on your side, it’s the best part,” Krizan said. “When you head into the locker room, there are 20 people in the stands, and then you come back out for the game and they’re filled. It gives me chills every time no matter what.”

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