ROCHESTER — It’s a position Rochester Adams football coach Tony Patritto isn’t used to being in.
Adams is 2-5 overall and 2-4 in the Oakland Activities Association White Division, guaranteeing that the Highlanders won’t be in the postseason for the first time since 1999 and only the third time since 1993.
Yet Patritto, who has coached Adams since 2003, is keeping perspective.
“We talk about it all the time with the team. This is a great sport, and sometimes we take for granted that we’ve been in the playoffs 12 times in a row and have beaten some great opponents. But at the end of the day in this sport, it’s the journey,” he said. “It sounds kind of cliché, and football coaches talk like this all the time, and sometime people outside of the football program don’t get it, but really, it’s the time you spent with the guys on the team, your pals, your coaches. You make it competitive and everything, but it should be fun — win, lose or draw.
“It’s harder when you’re not winning, but at the end of the day when you look back, ‘Did you give it everything you had? Did you do your best for your teammates?’ If you did that, then you shouldn’t have any remorse.”
Patritto added that the team’s struggles have stemmed from not making the big plays when they’re needed.
“In some instances, it’s the adversity that has gotten to us. In the past, when something bad happened, we looked at it as an opportunity to respond. This year, it’s led to more mistakes and problems,” he said. “Our opponents are good enough to beat us if we don’t make those plays.”
Junior Matt Sokol echoed those sentiments.
“We just need to finish a whole game as a team, and stay together and not get upset when things go wrong,” he said. “I think we’re trying to improve every practice, but we need to make plays when we need them.”
Knowing that the season is coming to a close without a playoff game for the first time since he’s been at Adams, Patritto said he’s not changing his approach to coaching for the final games, nor does he believe the outcomes will have any bearing on next year.
“One of the reasons why we’ve been successful is that we’ve been pretty good at keeping things one page at a time, one step at a time, and not thinking about the big picture stuff when you shouldn’t be,” he said. “In high school, because each situation is so unique, and each team is so new, I don’t think it has any impact whatsoever (on next year). Obviously, you want to finish on a positive note, but the fact that you win the last three or the last game does nothing to win your first game next year.”
Sokol is taking it as a lesson.
“We need to finish strong, and make sure the juniors know what this feeling is like, so we don’t have to feel it again next year,” he said. “The worst feeling in the world right now is that the seniors aren’t making the playoffs. For us, we need to carry that feeling over to next year and into the offseason to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”