The Mandan football team could easily be undefeated on the season. However, a couple of bad breaks have them at 2-4.
“Our focus is how we are going to play the second half [of football games],” Mandan coach Todd Sheldon said.
In three of Mandan’s four losses this season, the Braves have been leading at halftime, but outscored in the second half. One explanation could be player fatigue.
“We play quite a few kids,” Sheldon said, “but they are playing both ways. [The coaches] are trying to rotate kids through. It really does put a lot of stress on kids and it’s a testament to their resiliency and their perseverance and how well we continue to play football.”
Halftime seems to be the biggest hurdle for Mandan. After playing a strong first 24 minutes, the coaches feel the players’ energy takes a hit once they enter the locker room.
“They play with their hearts on their sleeves every play that they play,” Sheldon said. “So when they don’t play that way you can definitely tell there’s a lull.”
Also, there’s the coach’s chess match of making adjustment during the break.
“What’s the other team going to do to adjust,” Sheldon said. “What are we going to do adjust? How are we going to go forward from here? Bringing the kids into that picture and making sure the kids understand what we are going to do. So there’s a cerebral part to halftime so that they understand how we are going to do things.”
But despite the emotionally draining losses, Coach Sheldon is most impressed with his team’s ability to not dwell on the past.
“These kids have flipped the switch come Wednesday,” Sheldon said, “and they look like they understand what’s going on and I’m hoping that continues throughout the season.”
That starts with the Class of 2018.
“The quality of the leadership in the this senior class,” Sheldon said, “runs throughout the class. The seniors are kids who work hard.”
Mandan must win all there remaining WDA games and have some help if they hope to make the playoffs this season.