By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
“Playoffs this year,” Rockford Auburn quarterback Phillip Trammel said. “We’re heading for a big start. We want a big goal, and we want to make the playoffs this year.”
That is the refrain from the entire Auburn Knights football team heading into the season. Whether it is their new sophomore starting quarterback or veterans like Isaiah Owens and Brandon Sullivan, who played for last year’s winless team.
Each of the last few seasons, Auburn showed talent and promise heading into the season before failing to live up to expectations when the season started, bottoming out last year with an 0-9 record.
But a new coach, George Andrews, has brought a new attitude to the team. And it has caught on with the players, bringing excitement back to Auburn football.
“We’re done making excuses to why we can’t win football games,” Andrews said. “I think that attitude and that kind of presence on the practice field, and in the locker room, and in the weight room sessions, hopefully that translates, and I think it has. We’ve worked really hard this summer, and I think the kids are excited.”
Aside from their new coach’s excitement, one reason for optimism at Auburn is last year’s sophomore team, which finished 5-4 last season, moving up to the varsity level.
“Our sophomores had a really good season last year,” Andrews said. “Probably the first winning record they’ve had out of any level in a long, long time. I think what they’ve done is they’ve created their own excitement by doing that. They have some expectations now. They know what it takes to win and to get to that next level. We have some good leadership qualities.”
While Auburn has set high goals, there is a lot of work to be done to get there. One of the biggest areas of improvement will need to be on offense, where turnovers and penalties plagued the Knights all year.
“I’m looking to bring hard work,” Trammel said of his new role as the leader of the offense. “We’re going to get after it this year. I feel like this team right here is ready.”
If the dynamic sophomore can succeed at the varsity level, it could help an athletic Auburn defense stay fresh and keep them in ball games.
“Our best defense is going to be our offense,” Andrews said. “We’re going to be grinding it out and chewing that clock up. Defensively, we have to be able to swarm and get after it.”
From the Aug. 24-30, 2011, issue