During Aaron Giorgi's first year as head coach at Jefferson-Morgan, back in 2015, the Rockets started off well, winning three of their first four games.
Since then, the record has been 2-13, including 1-9 last season.
Giorgi knows his team has the talent to win football games, like it did in the first half of 2015. Looking to the upcoming season, the Rockets are hoping to rebound and get back to playing the way they did at the start of 2015.
“The pieces are there for us to have a drastic improvement this season,” Giorgi said. “It comes down to those first couple of weeks, though, to gain some momentum.”
Giorgi has seen an increased commitment from his players this offseason, something he attributes to the struggles on the field last season.
“I've seen a terrific work ethic from the kids,” Giorgi said. “A better work ethic than I've seen the last few years.”
Giorgi admitted last season wasn't just a learning experience for his players, but for him, too.
“I've never been a part of a team, playing or coaching, that had such lack of success, in terms of wins, as we did last year,” he said. “Looking back, we failed the kids a little bit as coaches. … We had to re-evaluate ourselves as a coaching staff, which we have done. And we are going to fix our mistakes.”
To rebound, Giorgi has two main points of focus.
They start on defense.
“Jefferson-Morgan has traditionally had a competitive defensive team, and that's something we're trying to get back to,” Giorgi said.
Last season, when the offense scored, the defense often allowed the opposing offense to score, which hurt the Rockets' momentum.
“We have to get off the field on defense,” he said. “There were times last season when we had momentum and then gave up a score within a few plays. We have to be able to take whatever momentum we gain on offense and translate that to defense.”
On offense, he wants to establish an identity.
Last season, the Rockets would often run several different offensive schemes in the same game, which Giorgi said caused confusion.
“We didn't have success doing a lot of things so we were constantly changing and searching for answers. I learned that you cannot do that,” he said. “You have to find a system that best serves the kids you have and stick with it, and be good at it, in order to have success.”
It's going to be important for J-M to improve on offense, too.
The Rockets scored 12.3 points per game last season, and that's including the 59-point outlier against Avella. Take that game out, and the Rockets scored a little more than a touchdown a game.
The Rockets lose both of their quarterbacks from last season and their workhorse at running back, Joe Headlee.
Giorgi is hoping to implement a shotgun offense for junior quarterback Jacob Broadwater. In the past, Broadwater, has played linebacker, running back and even offensive line.
“We want his eyes always looking downfield so everything is in front of him and he doesn't have to worry about backing up to give a handoff or get in a drop,” Giorgi said.
At the skill positions, the Rockets return seniors Colten Davidson and D.L. Garrett, both of whom saw significant playing time last season.
“We have to find a way to get Colten and D.L. the ball in space and find ways to let their athletic ability take over,” he said.
Giorgi believes the hard work in the offseason will pay off for his team, as will learning from the struggles of last season.
“If we play tough defense and we establish an identity on offense,” he said, “then we'll be ready to roll.” n