By Brandon HENSLEY
Rosemont Middle School played its first flag football game of the season Jan. 19 against Roosevelt Middle School. The team lost in overtime, 25-24, but that’s hardly cause to be negative considering how much the program has improved.
The YMCA ran the program last year and, to paraphrase new coach Jim Mustain, it wasn’t taken very seriously. But this season, Mustain, who teacher P.E. at the school, was appointed coach by the administration to get more serious, while still keeping the fun of it all.
He also has a specific idea in mind.
“This year, we’ve come off the recreational part and we’ve groomed the program to be like CV [High], in terms of we’re running it like a program,” Mustain explained.
A sort of minor league system to develop jr. high kids as they graduate and look to play football for CV? According to Mustain, yeah, a little bit.
“We coach the kids, they come in and have lunchtime meetings, we coach everything on the chalkboard,” he said. “Then we go onto the field. They learn [football] just like a class as opposed to a recreational sport.”
Mustain said he was put on to coach at the last minute. His team only had 12 days of practice before its first game, while he said Roosevelt had a month to prepare. But Mustain is a former tight end for Temple City High School, and played college ball in the Midwest. He has spent time coaching at CV, and he said he feels comfortable taking on the role.
“For me this is not a big deal. This is what I do. I do everything as if I was coaching the high school [team],” he said.
It helps to have some of the CV players come and give the kids some lessons. Quarterback Alex Duplessis, wide receiver Kevin Cooper and lineman Mitch Skinner have all visited Rosemont’s practices.
Against Roosevelt, Rosemont tied the score late in the game 18-18 to force overtime. After Roosevelt scored and converted the extra point, Rosemont came back and scored, and had a chance to tie it at 25-25, but the ball was dropped in the end zone.
“Our kids played well; they just played young,” Mustain said. “They only had 12 days to prepare, and I think they did very well. So I think it’ll be different when we play them again.”
The schools in the league are Rosemont, Roosevelt, Toll and Wilson middle schools. Every team plays each other twice, once at home and once away. A championship game will be held at Roosevelt for the top two teams at the end of the season.
Win or lose, Mustain is thinking ahead.
“My goal to prepare them. You know, a lot of them are eighth graders going into CV next year and I want to help build the CV program. … We want to teach the kids as much as we can and encourage them to go out later on and prep them for what it’s going to be like at the next level.”