Laying the Foundation for Success


Mattie Miller

The team running out with pride to go head to head with the Herculaneum Blackcats.

Being a fan of Fredericktown football, you may know that every win, either big or small, is a massive step in the right direction for the growth of the Blackcats. In the past, there have been some devastating seasons with records that reflect struggle, but with some significant changes to the program, success is just within reach. These changes include a new head coach, fresh talent, better facilities, and above all strong ambitions.

For the 2021 season, Fredericktown gained an experienced new head coach, who was looking to build a winning mindset. Coach Whitener, one of the high school weightlifting coaches, has implemented new ideas into the FHS football team that are finally starting to show. It all started with small conversations in the classroom, promoting the team’s future to every student he saw in the hallway, although it was specifically the connections he made with a handful of students in the building that immensely impacted the growth of the team.

Coach Whitener explains: “Relationships and communication are the number one asset of building a program.  In my first year here as an assistant, we had 26 athletes 9-12th grade, and that’s an issue.  I noticed a lot of individuals walking the hall that looked athletic and just started talking to them.  Conversations weren’t specific to football—just life in general—and because of this, relationships formed.  I’d say just getting to know kids was a pivotal part of building the program.”

Just by looking into the hallways on game day, you can see all of the boys wearing their Blackcat jerseys. This shows just how big the numbers have gotten. The Fredericktown football team currently has 45 athletes on the roster. They haven’t hit this number of players in the span of 8 years. Something that helped this growth was all of the summer training which had a turnout of almost 60; this hasn’t happened in decades. Coach Whitener states just how vital these numbers are to the team: “The involvement of newer players has given us depth at positions where we had no players in years past, which means we have competition for starter roles.” This competition brings a whole new level of work ethic to the field. Players work harder for their spots, which ultimately strengthens their skills.

On Friday, August 26, the team got to participate in the opening of the new track and field that has been in the works for the past few years. This new complex highlighted this team’s pride to be a Blackcat.  The Fredericktown Foundation Board worked hard to give the Fredericktown athletes and community an actual stadium with a newly remodeled field and a track that isn’t made up of dirt. Now the athletes that make up the football team feel as if it’s their turn to defend their home turf.

Pullquote Photo

“The new additions make me feel like the football program has the support of the community.

— Michael Akins

The team also got to display their new prosperity later that night when they went up against the Jefferson R-7 Blue Jays. The Blackcats pulled out a huge win by never letting up on the defensive line and sneakily gaining multiple first downs. The first quarter was slow, and both teams never saw a scoring opportunity. Nevertheless, the Blackcats made up for this in the second quarter. Andrew Starkey (12) started it all with an outstanding interception that put the ‘Cats on offense. Moments later Carter Cheaney (11) threw a successful pass to Easton Wood (10) to put the ‘Cats right at the end zone. Even though they suffered from a 5- yard penalty moments later, they were able to keep the ball, allowing quarterback Charter Cheaney to score. For the rest of the game, both the teams’ defenses held their own, and not much action happened near the goal line. At the end of the third, the Jays were faced with the opportunity for a field goal and were successful in setting the score to 6-3. By the end of the fourth with three minutes left, Jefferson accepted defeat while Fredericktown had the ball and was letting the clock run out.

Making this win even bigger was the fact that Fredericktown Football had suffered from a hard 50-0 loss just last season to Jefferson. This goes to show how hard work really does pay off. As Coach Whitener would say, “Energy, Effort, and Execution will be the difference,” and as you can see, the difference has already been made no matter how small. There is no better time to start supporting the boys as they start laying the foundation for success.