Head Coach Jay Locey delivers his latest game plan to the football players and his coaching staff before their season opener against the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags. (Photo courtesy of LC Pioneers)

Getting in the gridiron groove with the Pios

A new era arrives for Lewis & Clark Football with Head Coach Jay Locey and 35 Rookies

By PETER MELLING

I sat down with the Pioneer’s new Head Coach, Jay Locey, to learn more about how he is adjusting to working at Lewis & Clark (LC) and the various challenges in rebuilding the football program. Then I interviewed Deion Mock (‘16) on how he feels about this new season with a new head coach, a larger coaching staff and 35 first-year athletes.

What organizational challenges has this season presented so far?

Locey: I think typical challenges that face any college sports team, like figuring out the best time to practice. Of course, we can’t interfere with class time, academic events, and all of that stuff. There’s also the issue of limited facilities, seeing as how there’s only one field. Other than that, our concerns are pretty normal, such as not going too long, not wearing out legs, and maintaining a scout team (which is sometimes large or small, depending on what we need them for) with a limited amount of time.

Mock: This season is just like any other as far as challenges. There’s always pressure from the season before whether it be to improve a record or to maintain a winning program. Along with the pressure and expectation from the outside, meeting freshman teammates and helping them learn the system always takes time. This year is unique because the freshman class is so much bigger than years before, at least since I’ve been here. Along with those numbers brings a lot of talent, and a lot of freshman have found themselves on the field. The challenge with this is they have to take the time to study the playbook and know their assignments. It is up to the veterans of the team to make sure they know what they’re doing, to be there to encourage them, and answer any questions they may have.

Seeing as how your last stint in the Northwest Conference was as head coach of the Linfield Wildcats from 1996-2005, what is it like returning to the NWC after some time away?

Locey: I’ve loved it, it’s been fun. It’s been a return to good people, good schools, and good academics. So, it’s been a whole lot of fun. I feel very fortunate being able to come back.

How do you feel the athletes have adapted to this new coaching style?

Locey: Well, I think you’ll have to ask them! I think all of our coaches have embraced my style very well. The players have adapted seemingly well, but I think we’ve got great young men to work with, and we’ve been excited about their energy, enthusiasm, and their positive approach. It’s been tremendous.

Mock: As far as coach Locey’s style, I love what he did with the program. He and the entire coaching staff are heavily involved in all aspects of our teams’ life. They make sure we’re in good academic standing and find the help we need if we find ourselves confused in a class or falling behind due to the hectic schedule. The program has a more serious feel to it, with more dedication all around. Coach Locey and the staff expect excellence from every player, we preach it almost everyday. He is setting us up for success, not only in football but in life.

Does the influx of first-year students aid efforts in restructuring the organization?

Locey: Absolutely! Being able to add 35 young men to a program that was lacking in numbers is extremely helpful, and they’ve been great. The upperclassmen have been great in welcoming them and helping them in all aspects of Lewis & Clark. I’m really excited about that.

Mock: Like I said as far as freshman, we’ve brought a ton of talented players into the program. Some have found themselves filling gaps in our depth chart and starting their first year. This year’s class is a hard-working group of athletes, they’ve picked up our teams system and are executing like veterans. It’s great to see, and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish this season and what they accomplish in the years to come!

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