Changing mindset remains focus for Laney football team

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The second time around for any coach should be a bit more comforting having gone through the ins and outs and ups and downs of a season.

As Ashaad Yeoman begins to embark on his second year as head football coach at Laney High School, the Buctown alum talked about lessons learned and his mindset heading into the first official practice day during Midnight Madness on Friday night.

“We’ve learned quite a bit from last year until now,” said Yeoman. “Just from the way we practice to some of the things we want to add in during our practice schedule to the things we expected from the kids in the summer. It’s been a learning experience, but things are going a lot smoother now having that one year under my belt. I’ve got a better grasp of what to expect and how to handle certain situations.”

Laney fieldhouse overlooking Holliday Stadium. Photos by Joe Catenacci
Laney fieldhouse overlooking Holliday Stadium. Photos by Joe Catenacci.

Coming off a 5-6 season and 4-2 record in conference, Yeoman believes there were a lot of positives to take out of his rookie year on the sidelines. But without one of his key players returning following the graduation of Tariq Lane and a few other contributors to the program, Yeoman posed a challenge to his squad through summer workouts and 7-on-7 drills.

“I feel like our summer program is one of the toughest ones out there,” Yeoman added. “We ask the kids to get up and practice at 6:45 a.m. and it’s a grind. From a conditioning standpoint, that’s our main goal is to make sure they’re in shape.

“As far as strength, it’s 18-20 days we look to maintain what we have and teach the younger guys the proper form and technique so as they grow they have a better understanding on what they need to do on their own time.”

This was the second straight year under Yeoman that Laney hosted a 12 o’clock midnight practice to ring in the new season. He believes it’s these types of things that help gel the unit, while also garnering support for a team looking to make a move inside the split 3A/4A Mideastern Conference.

The Bucs play four of their first five games on the road.
The Bucs play four of their first five games on the road.

Never did Yeoman think that after just one season he’d be the longest tenured football coach in New Hanover County. With the departure of Scott Braswell (Hoggard), Kevin Motsinger (New Hanover) and Mike Propst (Ashley), the former college standout believes it’s as good a time as ever to put Laney football back on the map.

“Our goal is to win conference,” said Yeoman. “That’s why we work and the biggest hurdle right now is to learn to expect to win. The mentality should be expect to win and that’s one of the things we’re trying to do right now. Change the mindset. Sometimes I’m a coach and a psychologist at the same time. It’s exciting having a lot of new faces and we will see the fruits of our labor over the next few weeks.”

As for the Buccaneers, making plays and tackles heading into opening night at Wallace-Rose Hill on August 21, Yeoman is encouraged with the progress made during off season workouts and looking to build momentum starting with the first week of practice.

Prior to the start of league play on Sept. 25, Laney faces a grueling non-conference schedule, with four of five games on the road, including three straight away from home.

Laney 2015 schedule

Friday, Aug. 21 @ Wallace-Rose Hill

Friday, Aug. 28 vs. J.H. Rose

Friday, Sept. 4 @ Lee County

Friday, Sept. 11 @Northern Nash

Friday, Sept. 18 @ East Bladen

Friday, Sept. 25 vs. Topsail*

Friday, Oct. 2 @ South Brunswick*

Friday, Oct. 9 vs. New Hanover*

Friday, Oct. 16 @ Hoggard*

Friday, Oct. 30 vs. West Brunswick*

Friday, Nov. 6 @ Ashley*

*denotes conference game