GREAT BARRINGTON -- The first week may not have gone exactly how Monument Mountain football coach Todd Tinker, his staff and players might have drawn things up.
That doesn’t mean anyone is down in Spartan Nation, because the next thing for Tinker’s team is learning how to win.
"Yeah, sure, absulutely," he said. "It’s just simple mistakes that were killing us. When you have 100 yards or whatever in penalties. We’re not at that point yet where we can pull through those kind of mistakes."
Tinker is now in his third season at Monument, and he said he is feeling good about the rebuilding process.
"We met early on and we talked about commitment," he said. "I put myself on a three-year leash. Either I see enough improvement where I think I’m doing the right thing, or I move on."
The opening-night loss to Taconic aside, everything is trending up.
"The most promising thing is the young numbers" on the roster, he said. "We have close to 20 freshmen and the sophomore class is big. We’ve kept our quality core of kids that are older."
Actually, according to the school’s official roster, both the sophomore and junior classes consist of 16 players each. Each of those classes number more than the 15 upper classmen listed.
"The expectations are there," said Tinker. "The writing is on the wall. This is potentially our best group of kids."
For Tinker, this has been a process. When he took over three years ago, he wanted to ingrain Monument football into the South Berkshire youth leagues. That’s how it works with the youth leagues that feed perennial Berkshire County grid powers Hoosac Valley and Wahconah Regional.
"This is actually the first batch of freshmen coming in that have gone through our system in the youth leagues," he said, "and are coming in with the knowledge of our expectations."
Tinker said the parents of Monument players -- from the upperclassmen to the newest players -- are also very supportive of what the coaching staff is trying to accomplish.
That’s not the only thing new at Monument. The Spartans have new uniforms for the season. Tinker said the jerseys are designed to give them a "new attitude." And instead of the Spartan decal on the helmet, Monument now has a block "M" on each side of the maroon head gear.
"It’s definitely a new feeling," senior Jesse Dupont said, who said that’s only part of why 2012 feels different.
"This whole season has been new with everything we put in," he said. "It’s definitely exciting."
The Spartans are running multiple sets on offense, trying to use what the coach said was a team that is fairly skilled. Junior quarterback Ryle O’Brien is an athletic, mobile quarterback who can throw the ball if needed.
Sophomore Malik Wilbon rushed for 100 yards last week, and is one of those youngsters Tinker is counting on to help bring the Spartans to the next level.
"We older guys can teach them more," Matt Moriarty said. "When we’re out here, they can take the skills and keep passing it down."
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.