Perhaps the biggest myth of athletics at any level is that wins and losses come by what happens on game day. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Wins and losses actually come as a result of the effort that is put in during practice and even in the offseason.

During Manitou Springs’ baseball trip to Arizona, football coach Stu Jeck couldn’t help but ponder that thought during a dinner with the coaching staff. There is a lot of overlap between Manitou’s football and baseball staffs, so they discussed how to approach the start of the football season for the Mustangs.

Jeck didn’t like the number of wins that Manitou had last year. In their nine games, the Mustangs were on the winning side of just two.

Jeck and his staff are determined to better that number, so he’s rallied his football team early this year. The Mustangs have been doing voluntary workouts and Jeck has found some opportunities to compete. They hosted a 7-on-7 scrimmage with Liberty on July 20 and then went to a 7-on-7 showcase at CSU-Pueblo on July 23.

In Pueblo, they took on traditional football powers such as Pine Creek and Fountain-Fort Carson and are just seeing the benefits of getting on the field early.

“It gives us a clear view of what our skill positions look like,” senior running back Tyler Maloney said. “It really helps us to get started early and do some things early.”

This is the mentality Jeck wanted to see when he mentioned the issue in Arizona. Heading into his second season as Mustangs coach, he might still be short on experience. But he is not lacking when it comes to the passion he has for the sport and his desire to see his players succeed.

Seeing them take the initiative to work in the offseason and improve before the season’s first official practice has him excited for the season to begin.

“It’s going to pay dividends for us,” Jeck said. “For our passing game, I really think it has expedited the process. And the kids love it and they’ve really bought into it.”

Buying into an offseason program is half the battle for any coach in any sport. Although Manitou has put on voluntary workouts in previous seasons, there hasn’t been anything as organized as this year’s.

As Jeck ended a session on July 27, he told his team that he believes it has the talent to be the best Tri-Peaks League team. But talent alone won’t do it; it’s the work the players are putting in at 7 a.m. on a hot summer’s day that will give them the best shot.

For seniors like Maloney, it’s important to set a tone this year, hoping that it trickles down to the underclassmen. He doesn’t want 2022 to be unique for Manitou — he’s hoping it can become the standard.

“I can already see the improvement that comes with starting early,” Maloney said.

“I think the younger guys and the guys just joining the team get to see what we do early instead of waiting for the first week of practice. This is getting us ready.”

The season’s first formal practice will be Monday, Aug. 8. Rather than wait, Jeck has spent time this summer advocating for kids to come out and play. Seeing about 20 players at a voluntary workout is encouraging for Jeck and his staff, as that number should only grow the closer they get to fall practice.

“Numbers are everything in football,” Jeck said. “This is a sport that everyone should play. It’s good for everyone. That compliment (about increased numbers) needs to go to our staff. They’ve done a good job of raising this program to where it wants to be.”

Getting the team up to speed now will benefit the program when games begin in late August. And it’s that effort in July that will translate to more wins for the Mustangs this fall.

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