Mid-season report: Dexter football team searching for first win, mental edge

The scoreboard doesn’t always tell the whole story but the numbers – in any way you spin them – haven’t added up to much success for the Dexter football program in 2015.

The Dreadnaughts fell to 0-4 with Friday’s loss to Ypsilanti and as the schedule has increased in strength of teams, the losses have increased in the margin of defeat. After playing their first two opponents tough and tight, the Dreadnaughts have been outscored 95-0 in the last two, including Friday’s 50-0 loss to Ypsilanti where the Grizzlies turned big plays into big points.

Through it all and through several seasons of adversity, the Dexter coaching staff is keeping the outlook positive and the focus looking forward. What helps is that the coaches see talent and potential – it’s just about putting it all together at the same time.

“The toughest six inches on the field is between their ears,” Dexter coach Ken Koenig said. “We have the physical abilities but lack the mental capacity to put it all together. There is a mental barrier there that we continue to try and push our players through.”

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As students begin their third full week of school and the football team begins to prepare for the middle of the season, Koenig believes the Dreads are equal with where most teams are at from a physical standpoint.

“We are like most teams this time of year where we have a few banged up, a few out with illness and a couple that won’t be able to play and it’s really going to be a big test for us,” he said. “We now have kids who weren’t always in that starting role who now have to step up and play more minutes. They are excited and nervous at the same time. It’s going to be something new for them.”

Dexter doesn’t have a lot of depth and that could be a big hurdle to clear in the next couple of games. The Dreads have been using about five guys on both sides of the ball but they rotate them in and out at different times to keep them fresh.

“They are all working extremely hard and from that standpoint as a coach you can’t ask for anything more than that,” Koenig said. “We aren’t where I had hoped we would be at this point of the season in terms of record but physically I think we are in a good spot. It’s just that mental part we need to get over.”

Despite the losses and the frustrations, Koenig and his staff have kept their cool and composure on the sidelines during games. Instead of screaming and yelling and getting upset at the players, the Dexter coaches use mistakes as a teaching moment and hope this approach avoids similar errors in the future.

“It’s something we talk about all the time but I think a lot of us are just wired that way,” Koenig said. “I’ve been doing this long enough to know that getting mad and going off on somebody doesn’t do any good. All it does is give me a headache. And it never solves the problem.”

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The Dreads face a good but not great Lincoln team on Friday night. The Railsplitters, 1-1 in the SEC White and 1-3 overall, have been outscored 105-48 in their first four games including a 20-0 loss to Chelsea on Friday under coach Chris Westphal.

“They have some good athletes and a pretty good running quarterback,” Koenig said. “They have a good defensive lineman and a good linebacker.

“I talk a lot to Chris Westphal because he’s been where I am. And we bounce things off each other all the time.”
Dexter then faces Tecumseh (2-0 league, 2-2 overall) and Adrian (0-2, 1-3) in other SEC White matchups.

But this isn’t about the opponent or the schedule. It’s about the Dreadnaughts getting over that mental hurdle, building confidence and believing in themselves and the direction of the program.

“There has been a little frustration in practice and we’ve seen some players call others out for not giving 100 percent and I think that’s a step in the right direction,” Koenig said. “It takes confidence in yourself to call someone else out. But this is a very tight group of kids and they have known each other a long time. They do a good job of supporting each other. And they aren’t about to quit.”

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1 Comment

  • Couldn’t agree more that the toughest six inches is between the ears…and good coaches get them past that.

    Players calling each other out is part of the competitive process…and so should the coaches do the same to themselves.

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