The Muskie football season isn't until the fall but preparations already are underway.
Head coach Mike Cuzzolino is hoping the squad's annual spring camp, which is slated to run each weeknight from May 22- June 1, will see an increase in interested players this year.
“Our numbers have taken a hit over the last few seasons,” he conceded.
“We would love to have a roster of 35-40 athletes," Cuzzolino remarked. ”There are many gifted athletes in Fort High and we would love to see them try out football.
“The game is a lot safer than it's ever been," he noted. ”And if those athletes decided to play, we could have such a great competitive team.
“And they can be part of something special to make Muskie football a point of pride again in this community.”
Cuzzolino said they averaged about 10-12 players per day at last year's camp, which was significantly lower than past years.
“We are changing the practice times, from our usual 6-8 p.m. time slot to 4:30-6:30 p.m., in the hopes that this will encourage more kids that are in high school already to stick around and try it out,” he remarked.
The main areas of focus during spring camp will be the fundamentals, including blocking, tackling, and basic offensive and defensive formations, as well as trying to regenerate the buzz of football after a long off-season.
“We also try to take the time to teach the kids about football, how the game works, and the training portion of the game,” Cuzzolino said.
“The game is a lot different from when our dads played, and it's a much quicker, more athletic game,” he noted.
“It's very important for us to embrace coming into the season in shape and trained for the sport to help us stay competitive within our league.”
The black-and-gold posted a 2-5 regular-season record last year to finish tied for seventh place with the Tec Voc Hornets in the 10-team Andy Currie Division ('A') in the WHSFL.
Then after winning their first-round playoff game by default over the Maples Marauders, they fell 24-15 in the semi-finals to the St. Norbert Celtics to end the campaign.
Cuzzolino doesn't believe the Muskies will have to change too much this year in order to build off all they achieved in 2017.
“I don't think we'll be implementing anything different [at this year's camp],” he remarked.
“We want to continue to build on what we achieved last year, and work on becoming even better.”
Cuzzolino believes the Muskies are made up of a great bunch of players and their dedication will help to make the program successful again.
“They are great kids who really believe in our program, what we want to achieve, and want more,” he lauded.
"We have such a great core group of returning players.
“Ideally, what we'd love to do is be able to scrimmage with another school,” Cuzzolino added.
“But we need guaranteed numbers in order to approach other schools to scrimmage.”