As the final days of November arrive, the focus of high school sports shifts from the fall fields to the indoor venues of the winter sports seasons. For the Newfield Trojans, the focus is, as it has been in recent winters, on the basketball court. Coming off of back-to-back state Final Four appearances, the Trojans have their eyes on a third trip to the championship weekend, this time in a new classification.
During the offseason, the news broke that the Trojans would no longer be competing for a Class D sectional, regional, and state crown, but rather would be competing up a classification in Class C. While the Trojans are preparing for the start of the season, Head Coach Chris Bubble says that the mindset has to change in the higher class. “Before, we played the role of the underdog, the small school trying to knock off a bigger school,” he said. “Now, we are with all of those Class C schools, and we are going to have to execute.”
The five-time defending division champions will need to adjust to the new level of competition but need to do so without key players from last season. The Trojans enter the 2018-19 campaign without a trio of seniors, Greg Moravec, Stephen LaBarge, and Quintel Clements, who had been pivotal members of the starting five in prior seasons. “They were great basketball players, but they were also great leaders,” said Bubble of the dynamic trio.
While the loss of the Trojans’ trio of offensive stars will certainly cause some movement and leave vacancies, Bubble isn’t worried about the depth of his squad. “We have a group of young guys who are ready and can play,” he said. The young players that Bubble referred to form a group of experienced players that look to fill the shoes of the departed seniors. Looking for leadership from juniors LaRon Boykin and Josh Wood, Bubble hopes to see their play boost the play of sophomore Jake Humble. “They need to be the guys this year,” he said. “The don’t have the seniors to defer to anymore.”
As the team began to take shape over the last few weeks, Bubble says that priority number one isn’t the strategic aspect of the game. “What I want to know from the beginning is, who is ready to go, who is in shape?” he said. “If players aren’t in shape, I want to know who is going to work hard to get into shape and be ready for our fast-paced style of play.”
Looking in preview at the season as a whole, Bubble believes that the key to the success is finding the new leaders on the Trojans squad. “We know that we have the guys who can go out there and play great basketball,” he said. “The main thing that we need to find out is who is going to step up, take the reins, and lead this team.”
“We are not going to have the advantages that we had in previous seasons,” said Bubble. “We are going to embrace our accomplishments and what we have, and that will work for us.”
The Trojans have proven, time and time again, that they can withstand the challenges of a long season ahead and are ready to get after it with the same fight as before.
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