When Josh Shattuck took over the Seymour football program in 2013, he aimed to redefine the culture.
He needed students to come out and want to play football.
The football team had a low turnout, with a little less than 40 players in his first season.
Now, in his fourth year of coaching, Shattuck’s numbers have more than doubled.
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Between 80 and 90 kids have gone out for the 2016 squad.
“The numbers were extremely low when I got here,” Shattuck said. “I think the first year, it was a low point in the program. There were a lot of factors that go into it for Year One.”
I attribute it to the work that our players have done to create a culture, even when we weren’t winning games. It’s a culture that made it fun to be around (the football team). The work ethic has set its standards. I think that other kids saw that the football team is out there working, having fun and having good relationships with their coaches and teammates. That’s where it starts for me, the culture.”
This year’s team has a handful of new faces — with a handful of members from the basketball joining — including a group of talented freshmen.
“Right now, we have about 15 or 20 kids out this year for the high school who hadn’t played with us before,” Shattuck said. “A handful are freshmen who didn’t play at the high school level last year who will help us significantly.”
Last season, the Owls started the season 0-5 before winning five of their past seven games.
They made it all the way to the sectional championship before falling to East Central.
The Owls had a record of 2-18, including an 0-10 finish in 2013, before winning a handful of contests last year.
Winning undoubtedly helped the numbers grow, Shattuck said.
Shattuck said that football is a numbers game, and he wants to set the standard at 90 or more players.
“I want as many as we can get,” he said. “I think football is such a unique sport when it comes to numbers. You don’t have to be a specific type of build or have a certain skill set to be on the football team. You have to have a work ethic and show up, and there aren’t many sports where you can do that.”
While not every player will see significant playing time, each member serves a purpose.
“If we have 90 kids, kid 90 is adding to the culture,” Shattuck said. “Obviously, they have to do the things we ask of them be committed. Numbers are a huge thing in this sport. When the numbers are high, it shows that the kids are having a good experience in your program.”
“With basketball, you can have those things but if you can’t dribble, pass, shoot or defend, you will get cut.”
While the efforts of the Seymour Area Youth Football League haven’t been felt yet at the high school level, the effects of the youth program should be seen in the next couple years.
The SAYFL is going into its third year this fall.
“It’s hard to tell with the SAYFL since it was only in Year 2 and the oldest kids would be incoming eighth-graders,” Shattuck said. “However, I don’t think there’s a doubt that we’re going to see the level of play get better.
“They’ve been exposed to our play, system and culture. They’re coached well down there, and combined with our middle school it is getting everything going. These numbers are going to be an expectation instead of a surge.”
Most of the members on the team have been attending workouts at the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium and weight room this summer.
Shattuck said that the time his guys are putting in together is helping them establish relationships before the season.
“The biggest team building is guys giving up their free time to lift weights, run and condition,” Shattuck said. “Football is fun, but to be good that other stuff (conditioning) isn’t always fun — lifting weight and running, especially in the heat. The team building aspect come in when you see all these kids giving up what they could be doing, to (work out) together.”