SEBRING, Ohio (WKBN) – Over the last few years in Sebring, the Trojans football team had some trouble putting points up on the scoreboard, sometimes outnumbered by 30 to 40 kids on the sidelines.
But this season, they made the switch to eight-man football and are already seeing it pay off in year one.
“We’ve seen some energy, we’ve seen some excitement, we’ve seen some growth, and it’s exciting,” Sebring head coach Anthony Agresta said.
“We’re way more competitive this year. It’s better football; it’s more fun football,” senior Wyatt Sheen said. “It looks more like football than last year.”
Following an 0-10 season during his first season at Sebring, Agresta knew something had to change.
“What we were asking kids to do things that just weren’t right from a football perspective,” Agresta said.
So after a pitch to the school board, the decision to join the Northern 8 Football Conference was an obvious upgrade after not posting a winning record since 1992.
“To see an equal amount of people in there on the sideline, it feels like encouraging like we have a fighting chance,” senior Joel Seals said. “Last year was… it just felt like hopeless, and now it feels a lot better.”
Seals is definitely enjoying the change statistically as well, racking up 941 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns through just seven games, along with another 433 passing yards and two scores.
“This year there’s that sense of we can do this, we can compete,” Sheen said.
“Last year, we were just trying to get people lined up in base defenses and hopefully get kids in the right spot,” Agresta said. “Now we can actually game plan, and the kids are really rallying around that.”
After just nine wins in the past two seasons, notching two wins through seven weeks already can help revamp a program at the beginning of a rebuild.
“My freshman year, we only won two games, so to be going into my ninth and my 10th week with two wins under, and hopefully two more wins, it’s great,” Seals said.
Coach Agresta is even already seeing the buy-in, going from zero freshmen on the roster a year ago to eight this season, plus restarting youth and middle school programs through flag football teams.
“You can feel the energy in the stands a little bit right now, and the community’s really got a little spark. Something’s been ignited, and it’s cool to be a part of,” he said.
Sebring hits the road to take on Southington this Friday in an eight-man football contest at the Southington Athletic Complex.