With five Spring practices in the books, here are five questions we asked Coach Nofri, as he and the Pioneers look to build off their 2013 NEC Championship season.
This time last Spring, you were coming off a tough 2-9 season and a last place finish in the Northeast Conference. Will you have a different mindset this Spring after such a successful season last Fall?
"No, I think we try to have the same mindset as we did before last season. I always tell the guys you have to stay hungry and stay focused because once you win the NEC championship once, it doesn't mean your job is done. I tell the guys to only think about last year if you are trying to learn from your mistakes or remember the positive things you were doing. We are trying to build a foundation where the goal every year is to be in the contention to win the NEC title and the guys need to understand that 2013 is over and a new season is upon us."
What have you been trying to accomplish in these first few practices?
"We are trying to get a look at some of the younger guys. We are seeing if the players that maybe didn't travel last year or played JV can step up and take on a bigger role this season. We also have a few position battles to work through. I tell the guys that every position is still wide open and you have to work hard to keep your spot. "
Have you guys been affected at all by the weather?
"It has certainly been a cold start to the Spring, especially at 6:45 in the morning when we are usually starting practice. We actually had to move a couple practices around because of the threat of bad weather. I think the guys are hoping for some warmer weather in the next couple of weeks.
You will be returning 18 starters from a year ago, are you coaching any differently because you have so many guys who are familiar back?
"I don't think so. We still need to go back to the fundamentals on offense, defense and special teams. Its important we try to stay sharp and fundamentally sound. I ask the guys all the time, how did we win last season? What did we do in the offseason last year to prepare? We worked our tails off, on and off the field. We were extremely eager in the Spring last season to change the culture and attitude of Sacred Heart football. That mindset certainly doesn't change and that is what we are focusing on."
As head coach, are you a little more patient in the Spring than you would be at a regular practice in the Fall?
"Absolutely. Even though, we do have a lot of returners, it still is a new team with new guys. This is a time to build team chemistry and to focus on the basics. I just want the guys to get as many reps as possible and to learn as much as they can as we creep closer to the Spring game on April 12th."
The Pioneers annual Red and White Spring game is scheduled for Saturday, April 12th at 11:00 am.