With the start of high school football just over five weeks away, Muskies fans have already begun to get excited for the season ahead. At the most recent meeting of the Purple & Gold Club, Muscatine High School (MHS) Head Football Coach Jake Mueller spoke about what his team has done to prepare for the season ahead.
Muskie sports legend Chuck Van Hecke introduced Mueller, speaking highly of his work over the past ten years. “Jake is outstanding. . .. He cares about kids. Winning’s important to him, but kids are more important to him.”
Mueller began his talk by outlining what the varsity football team has done since the end of their regular season. In January, football players elected ten upperclassmen to serve as team leaders. Divided into five pairs, these team leaders then drafted teams that competed against each other throughout the off season. Through sports participation, grades, and community service, teams worked to see who could get the highest score for the whole off season.
In March, Mueller gave student athletes more practice time by attending open gyms on Wednesday mornings. During this time, upperclassmen led younger students through throwing and catching drills as well as running routes.
Mueller also spent the off season helping his players develop good character. For his ten team leaders, Mueller hosted a book club every other Wednesday morning. At each meeting, the team leaders read from and discussed the book, Pound the Stone Training Manual by Joshua Medcalf. They also worked to determine what five major values they would like all of their teammates to work on. After deciding on attitude, effort, discipline, family, and grit, Mueller led the whole team on lessons on these topics every other Thursday morning.
With the arrival of summer, the team began practicing four days a week, spending time working on football skills and lifting. At the beginning of this week, students will travel to Central College in Pella to participate in team camp. Along with providing excellent practice against some of the state’s best teams, this camp will also give student athletes an opportunity to experience college life. Mueller said, “I like to go to a different college every year. If a kid goes to team camp for three years, they’ll see three different college campuses.”
On August 12th, the Muskies will hold their first official practice of the season. Over the course of the week, they will work up to their first fully padded practice of the year that Saturday, their famous midnight practice. After that, student athletes will have a packed week with booster club night on August 23rd and their scrimmage at Washington High School on the 24th before they begin their season on August 30th at home against Davenport Central.
As the Muskies enter their pre-season practices, Mueller has high hopes for their performance this year. “We feel pretty good about how the season looks for us. The kids have a good attitude. They’re working hard. They’re motivated to do good things.”