Under Miller, Ephrata starts with ‘clean slate’

By on August 17, 2016
First-year Ephrata head coach Kris Miller (left) stands with seniors Mason Klaus (left to right), Kyle Sadorf and Dustin Fisher at the L-L Football Media Day Friday. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

First-year Ephrata head coach Kris Miller (left) stands with seniors Mason Klaus (left to right), Kyle Sadorf and Dustin Fisher at the L-L Football Media Day Friday. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Eventhough Ephrata has that ugly 31-game losing streak on its back heading into the 2016 football season, the Mounts aren’t really even thinking about it.
Sure, it’s there. But with the arrival of Kris Miller as head coach, the players seemed have wiped the proverbial slate clean and are focused on making it a “new beginning” for Ephrata football.
“Everything is different this year,” three-year starting senior lineman Kyle Sadorf said Friday at L-L Football Media Day. “It’s a clean slate for us. We have a new coaching staff, a whole new offense and a whole new defense so it’s really a year to make our mark on what the future of Ephrata football is going to be. The practices, even through heat acclimation, seemed to be more intense, more focused, we are always moving…We are working hard and that’s what it’s all about.”
“I’ve mostly forgotten about the past few seasons,” added fellow senior lineman Mason Klaus. “I’m just just trying to put the effort and the hard work in for this year. I’m just focused on what’s ahead.”
What lies ahead is a season of transition as the Mounts move back to Section Two after spending the last two years competing in Section Three. They’ll do it with a roster of around 40, which includes 12 seniors who are excited for the chance to be the ones to help turn this program around.
“I feel like (the seniors) need to be the ones to show the guys that we need to buy in, work hard and keep the intensity up through practice and also the games,” Sadorf said. “I really think that’s what we need to turn this program around. We are looking forward to competing, working hard and trying our best to win some games.”
And the change back to Section Two doesn’t seem to bother them.
“We don’t really focus on who we play. If we take care of what we need to do we’ll be moving in the right direction,” senior running back Dustin Fisher, the team’s leading returning rusher, said.
As for Miller, who will be a head coach for the first time after assisting at Northern Lebanon for several years, he has already seen much improvement since he first was able to lay eyes on the squad back in the spring.
“We had a spring open gym period which was the first time that the players and coaches could interact,” he said. “We had a lot of growing pains during that time, but when we hit heat acclimation we kind of hit the ground running. Every day, we find something that’s a positive that we see in the kids. We keep moving forward, and we are getting there.”
“This week we’ve been working on our base offense and our base defense,” he continued. “We still have some stuff to go but for the most part we have what we want to accomplish in, and now we are just going to be refining, refining, refining…we’ve thrown a lot at the kids. It’s a completely new offense, a completely new defense. There is terminology, there’s plays…there is nothing that is the same as what has been. It’s just refining what we are going to do and kind of find our identity. We can practice against ourselves all we want but until we go though those scrimmages and see what we can run well against another team, that’s going to go a long way into our gameplan for our first game.”
While Xs and Os will certainly be important, Miller believes the key to turning this around is changing the culture.
“That’s kind of what we’ve been preaching to the kids from Day One,” he said. “However you are going to measure a football team’s success, whether it’s wins on the field or grades in the classroom or working with the community…whatever it’s going to be, we want to be considered winners at whatever that is. Just that mindset in the kids that we got to do whatever it takes to get us around that hump is going to make a big difference. The kids are starting to buy into it. We see different kids every day stepping up and giving a little bit more than maybe they gave the day before. And when the whole team kind of buys into that, then we are going to be headed in the right direction.”
Ephrata opens the season with a non-league game at Conestoga Valley Sept. 2. The Mounts will face Lebanon at home and are at Warwick the next two weeks before opening Section Two play Sept. 23 at Cedar Crest.

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