For the first time in around 20 years, the Montrose Meteors have a roster of approximately 30 players, something the district has not experienced since the days of Super Bowl Champion Chris Snee.
“(It) is almost double from last year,” explained first-year head coach Kerry Patton.
Elk Lake participates in a co-op agreement with the neighboring school, and Patton estimates 50-65 percent of the players are Elk Lake students.
Last season, the co-op was also open to students from Mountain View High School, but that agreement has dissolved.
Logistically, the hybrid school schedules and distance between the two schools creates transportation problems for practices at the Susquehanna County school, but Patton uses that as fuel for his charges.
“It will make us bigger and better than ever, we will not be dependent on the school’s transportation, but each other. Teammates will need to make sure everyone has a ride. We need to make sacrifices, as the only school in NEPA currently with a co-op, we will be fighting the hardest,” he said.
There will be a lot of new faces, both on the field and the sidelines this year. Of the five seniors suiting up for the Meteors, three of them are first time players. On the sidelines, Patton is joined by Frank Lincoln, Maddy Pasteka, and Gregg McNamara.
“Most have not played the sport long enough to have a deep background on football knowledge. We are working on that,” added the coach.
Patton was hired in the off season, becoming the program’s third head coach in three years.
His background includes playing at Hargrave Military Academy, and Shepherd College for a season. Patton has coached peewee ball in two states, and high school ball as an assistant at Holy Cross and Northern Burlington County, but both coaching seasons were cut short due to his military service.
He brings a new attitude, new philosophy, new approach to the team, and considers both schools his hometown schools. Patton cites his love of the kids as his reasoning for coaching the Meteors.
“As for last season, the key word would be perseverance. The kids never quit,” said Patton. “This season we are looking for continued growth. We already won from a philosophical standpoint.”
Patton reveals the team’s biggest strength is heart, but on the field they are working on conditioning and fundamentals.
He feels the first game of the season, which is scheduled for Oct. 5 against Susquehanna, is of most interest and that is due to the question “will we even have a season this year.”
Susquehanna, which operates the only other co-op program in the northeast, is currently pausing its fall season while school officials decide on the best course of action for the Sabers and Blue Ridge Raiders.
“I have some of the best kids in Pennsylvania who have already created their own tribe full of respect, love, and commitment and season or not, I absolutely love them as if they were my own and I could not be more proud of them seeing their transitions from when we first met this spring to date. They are great kids,” Patton extolled. “Football is just a tool to help athletes learn life lessons. We are stressing to them to ‘be a better human.’”
In a team meeting with the players, Patton explained he will continue to push them whether or not there is a 2020 season.
“We will still condition, run, snap, hike, and we will get you all, seniors especially, on film to push you to a higher academic level. We have a mission beyond this season, don’t give up on me and I will not give up on you,” he said.
As of press time, rosters and schedules were still being compiled.