A state championship. An undefeated season. 2018-2019 was undoubtedly a historic season for Fords Basketball. A talented starting lineup consisting primarily of Sixth Formers helped the team exceed all expectations, crowning their season in a State Championship victory in overtime against Westtown last winter.
This year, the Fords will be on a quest to repeat this victory — a feat which is by no means simple. Four starters from last year’s team have graduated, bringing a unique task to the upcoming season that Varsity Head Coach Bernie Rogers believes Fords basketball is ready to tackle.
“I think it’ll be different guys stepping up,” Coach Rogers said. “New team, new journey. So I think we have a chance to be good and unselfish and win a lot of games. We’ll just have to do it in a different fashion.”
Sixth Form leaders Scott Burke and M.J. Atkins hope to establish this selfless team culture.
“Most of us have been together for three years now. We know each other really well, and we’ve been working out in the offseason a lot too. We’re pretty close,” Burke said. “I think it’s important to keep us together and make sure we’re one team — not just a group of twelve individual guys.”
Atkins said, “Coming off a State Championship, there are a lot of expectations, but we’re excited to live up to them.”
Backing up a State Championship often comes with challenges, but the team remains calm and confident.
“I don’t think there’s added pressure because we have so much to prove,” Atkins said. “We have kids who have been in the program for four years, but just haven’t had the roles they’re going to have this year.”
“We’ll have kids who have never really gotten the minutes they will get this season, and I think the players have a point to prove. We’re going to come out firing.”M.J. Atkins ’20
“So we’ll have kids who have never really gotten the minutes they will get this season, and I think the players have a point to prove. We’re going to come out firing,” Atkins said.
The Fords believe they will be able to grow as the season continues, developing their own blueprint of excellence.
Fourth Former Jameel Brown said, “We’re young. We just need to find what we’re good at this year because last year we lost so many great players. Everyone’s going to come for us, so we have to play hard.”
“We’re a very different team than we were last year,” Burke said. “We just have to find out what makes it click and keep going. We can’t replace [graduates] Christian Ray, Jameer Nelson, Asim Richards, or Gavin Burke. We just gotta figure out our own way of winning.”
Assistant coach Mr. Jeremy Hart anticipates an exciting and successful season. He believes the team is ready for their challenges and is excited to see how they will handle changes.
“I’m excited to see Coach Rogers coach and see some of the young guys step up,” Coach Hart said. “A lot of guys are going to get the opportunity to show what they can do.”
The team’s attitude remains positive through adversity, and the boys are motivated to succeed.
“Our goal is to win the league,” Burke said. “Beyond that, it is to win another State Championship.”