CHESAPEAKE, VA (WTKR)- Prior to this season, Martin Asprey was the only head football coach in the history of Grassfield High School football, leading the program since its first season in 2007. As the 2022 campaign gets set to kick off, a new era is beginning for the Grizzlies.
There's a new feeling around the Grassfield practice field- new season, new head coach, new energy, even new uniforms. After a 1-9 finish in 2021, the Grizzles are hoping for a new result as well.
"They want us to get hype," senior H-back and linebacker Brian Young Jr. said of the new coaching staff. "They want us to hit, they want us to do everything we can at 100 percent."
"We've tried to re-brand as best as we could and try to bring some new energy, some new life to the program and just make it something that the kids want to be a part of," added head coach Joe Jones.
Jones is taking over the program after serving as the head coach at Lakeland for three years. Success is not a foreign concept to the new head Grizzly, as he was an assistant at Oscar Smith, his alma mater, before taking the head job with the Cavaliers. Now he's trying to leave his mark at Grassfield.
"Grassfield, in its short history, has a history of success," he pointed out. "We believe in excellence, not only on the football field, but just in the community as a whole."
The players that make up the Grizzlies' roster don't have to look too hard to find motivation. Last year's rough showing still burns for many of them, lighting a fire that some say will help push them through preseason camp.
"We're hungry," Young said. "After last season, that is the last thing you'll get from us ever again. We're not doing that anymore. We want to win."
"Even without the motivation that I think I try to bring on a daily basis, I think the kids were already internally motivated to turn it around and get it right," Jones noted.
Part of the turnaround will be facing adversity head on. Jones thinks that's where it all begins.
"Running from it will not save you," he said of his philosophy. "You've got to go through it and they know it. Once they embody that and understand it's a process and you can't sidestep it, you can't go around it, you can't go over it, you've got to go through it. Once they get that concept, they'll be just fine."
Grassfield's last winning season came in 2016 when the Grizzles won nine games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. They've advanced to the postseason in ten of their 15 previous seasons, most recently during the pandemic-induced condensed campaign in the spring of 2021.
The Grizzlies open up their 2022 campaign on August 26, hosting Norview.