Just like any other football team, the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats are amped up for their first game week of the season. This season opening week has a bit of a different feel, however.
The Charging Wildcats are coming off a 2012 filled with high expectations, and utter disappointment losing in the state semifinals to the Fayetteville Bulldogs, the team that became the state champs the next week.
North Little Rock coach Brad Bolding, however, calls what happened nine months ago irrelevant. His team is a brand new team in a brand new year with brand new goals.
"Our goal is to be better this year than we were last year," Bolding said. "It’s the opportunity for this group of guys to lay the ground work and determine what they are going to accomplish."
Excelling at what they can control is what Bolding and his coaching staff press every day.
"We focus on effort, execution, finishing plays, finishing blocks, playing to the echo of the whistle, paying four quarters," Bolding said.
Dealing with the surprises that inevitably show up during any given game and having positive energy rather than nervous energy.
With a goal of being better than last year, Bolding stops short of saying it’s state title or bust.
"Our own personal goals is to play in December," Bolding said, "and that’s to play in December."
Bolding acknowledges that a process exists from week one until that final week which ultimately could lead to a state championship.
"There is a lot of improvement that has to take place," Bolding said. "We are not ready to play for a state championship right now."
For that reason, Bolding will not allow his group to listen or give time to two things: the past and the hype.
North Little Rock is pegged as the state’s top team, and have been talked about all summer both as a team and individually. Bolding said what is said in summer means nothing.
"Our players know the expectations of people," Bolding said. "They key is what is their expectations. What motivates them when they get to practice?"
The Charging Wildcats are looking square at Friday’s opponent, the Lake Hamilton Wolves.
"That’s what we are focused on," Bolding said. "That’s the only thing we are focused on. We haven’t been focused on the scrimmage game with Conway, just Lake Hamilton."
Lake Hamilton is Friday night. The new season is here.
The Charging Wildcats are coined as the best. Starting Friday is when they want to start proving it.