The Columbus North Bull Dogs’ practice drills on Tuesday looked exactly like the ones they ran a few days before the season opener when dreams of a Conference Indiana title were floating around in their heads.
Those dreams didn’t get accomplished as North, now 1-4 overall, couldn’t successfully navigate its buzz saw of a schedule.
Even so, the Bull Dogs haven’t lost hope, or their desire to turn the 2012 season into something special.
“It’s tough,” junior quarterback Michael Vogel said. “At times you find yourself losing motivation. We all know that Week 10 starts the season all over again (in the playoffs). Right now, it’s going to be tough to salvage a good record. But we are working hard.”
Bull Dogs coach Tim Bless said that, while things haven’t gone as planned, he continues to be surrounded by quality players.
“It’s a great group of kids to be around,” Bless said. “Being here is the highlight of my day other than being with my family. The seniors are phenomenal and it permeates through the team.”
That doesn’t mean it has been easy to be 1-4 with the Indiana Conference’s other marquee team, Pike, visiting at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“It is tough,” he said. “But we can’t lose sight of the fact we are doing things the right way. You’ve seen teams that fold in terms of attitude and effort. I don’t think that’s been a problem at all. This team works hard and has a good attitude.”
Senior linebacker Shaquille Ash said he knows the Bull Dogs can turn it around.
“We came into the season thinking we had a lot of returning starters,” Ash said. “It’s been a lot of letdowns. But we know if we tweak things a little, we can get right back on track. We definitely don’t want to have a losing season.
“It’s been a lot of little things for us. We have to stay calm and know that everything’s going to be all right.”
A win on Friday would shock most people around Conference Indiana, though.
“We know Pike is a tough team,” Vogel said. “But for us to get a marquee win would be huge.”
However, he doesn’t think he has to carry the load for North to start winning.
“I’ve learned that I can’t make mistakes,” he said. “I can only control so much. I’m a smaller cog in the machine.”
Bless continues to move some of those cogs around, trying to find the right combination. One move has been to change senior Conner Marshall from the defensive line to linebacker.
“We’re a pretty solid football team,” Marshall said. “We’ve just been making some fundamental mistakes. But we’re going to work our hearts out.”
Bless expects nothing less.
“We faced a murderer’s row of a schedule,” he said. “Those four teams we lost to are a combined 17-2. I still think we are going to be a dangerous team at tournament time.”
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