Each day over the 2 1/2 weeks leading up to the 2019 IHSA football season, the News-Gazette will be previewing all 37 teams in its coverage area.
MAHOMET — Over the sounds of rap and hip-hop music Tuesday at the Mahomet-Seymour football practice field, some of the Bulldogs could be heard shouting cheerfully.
This is while they were executing running drills on a warm, sunny evening.
In the wake of a 3-6 campaign which ended with the departure of longtime coach Keith Pogue.
“You can hear right now, the guys are out there hooting and hollering and yelling. It’s excitement,” first-year Bulldogs coach Jon Adkins said. “There’s so much excitement in the air, and it all comes from these kids and what they’ve done and what they’ve bought into, and just how they want their season to go.”
That run begins Aug. 30 with a 7:30 p.m. nonconference home game versus Marion.
M-S has missed the postseason two of the last four years after a string of 13 consecutive berths in either Class 4A or 5A from 2002-14.
The fact is something Adkins’ new charges are feeding off.
“We’re definitely ready to show everybody we’re not last year’s team,” senior Noah Crowley said. “We’ve put in a lot of work this offseason to try and change what happened last year.”
Adkins sees that as well, saying there was little to no speed bump in the transition from Pogue’s coaching style to that of Adkins, a Charleston graduate.
Case in point came Monday, when the Bulldogs opened preseason camp along with other teams across the state.
“In 14 years of coaching football, I’ve never had a day number one like that,” Adkins said. “By the time we got to the end of practice, we should’ve been tired. We put them through a really difficult practice ... and we weren’t (tired).”
This could mean the M-S athletes are supremely conditioned. That will be tested when Marion comes to town, and in Apollo Conference action afterward.
What guys like senior Costen Campion are sure it signifies is that Adkins is building something for his boys to get behind.
“He brought a lot of change, a lot of positive change,” Campion said. “A big part of that is just his attitude for the game, his love for the game. He just brings a lot of energy, and it hypes up all the players.”
Some roster overhaul also will be required with 13 offseason graduations.
That includes replacing starting quarterback Dawson Finch — with his younger brother, junior Braden Finch.
“He played a little JV quarterback for them last year,” Adkins said. “He’s taken this offense and made it his own and just adapted everything.”
Campion, a halfback and defensive tackle, feels especially positive about the direction of the Bulldogs’ defense.
“Defensively, I feel like we’re going to be strong,” Campion said. “I mean, both sides of the ball, but for sure defensively, I think we’ll be great.”
Being great has been a familiar trope for M-S football during its current players’ lifetimes. Or consistently good, at least.
Crowley, a wide receiver/cornerback, believes the 2018 Bulldogs were better than their record indicated, considering four of their defeats came by 15 or fewer points and they won their final two games.
“We played a lot of teams close last year,” Crowley said. “This year, we’ve got a lot of talent on the team. We’ve come together as a team.”
Adkins’ shares his pupils’ optimism.
Leading up to his arrival in Mahomet, after being hired away from Cape Coral (Fla.) High School last February, he was quick to point out M-S football’s longstanding history of success.
In his mind, the next chapter begins later this month.
“Last year kind of left a sour taste in their mouth that they’re not even used to,” Adkins said. “These kids are winners. They were born winners. They saw winning all the time. So, absolutely, they know what they’re capable of doing.”
When you can see the Bulldogs
A look at Mahomet-Seymour football’s 2019 schedule:
DATE OPPONENT TIME
Aug. 30 vs. Marion 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6 at Taylorville 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 vs. Mattoon 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Effingham 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 vs. Mt. Zion 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 vs. Lincoln 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Charleston 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Macomb 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 vs. Richwoods 7 p.m.