Countdown to Kickoff 2012: Sharks hungry for victories

Daaaaa-dum … da-dum da-dum.

The slow but increasing tempo of the theme from the movie “Jaws” also applies to another group of Sharks near the Atlantic Ocean. The St. James version is also gradually gaining momentum to sneak up on the unsuspecting.

“When I took this job I said this is a marathon, not a sprint,” said second-year football coach Mark Fischer. “To turn this thing around is going to take some time, so we’re just trying to improve on last season.”

It’s only fitting that Fischer uses a spring sports analogy to address the fall sport of football. Entering its 10th year of existence, the Sharks have won a state championship in baseball and back-to-back region titles in baseball, softball and girls soccer. But the football program has never posted a winning season.

The Sharks may be poised to end that dubious distinction this season, with the Sharks attracting players to the gridiron at unprecedented numbers. For the first time since St. James fielded a football team, the Sharks have the depth and talent to take on some of the more established programs in the region.

Quarterback Josh Roper operates a single-wing attack that utilizes the speed of running back Tyus Goodman and the power of fullback Austin Adams to chew up yardage and the clock against superior foes. That may be easier said than done after losing three starters off an offensive line that struggled to score last season.

The defensive line was even further decimated, losing the entire starting front four from a unit that surrendered an average of 32 points per game against Region VIII-AAA competition. Adams anchors a linebacking corps that needs to be able to stop the run at the point of attack to keep faster foes out of the secondary.

The Sharks added non-region games against Andrews, Cross and Carvers Bay to the schedule in hopes of adding a few potential victims, but the Sharks are going to have to compete with region foes to realize its ultimate goal. While a winning season and playoff berth may still be a year or two away, the Sharks are gaining ground.

Photo courtesy of St. James Athletics

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