WEST POINT — Don Farley was quite pleased to see his West Point football team adopt a business-like approach upon its return to the practice field on Tuesday.
The Warriors opened up their 2014 season with a dominant 31-0 win over Hayden last Friday night, proving — at least, for now — the preseason hype for a squad returning 20 experienced starters was more than merited.
Despite the shutout victory, however, Farley — like many other prep football coaches — saw plenty to improve on before his Maroon and White program dukes it out with Columbia in a Class 5A, Region 7 opener this Friday.
"It's always great to get that first win," he said. "We've got a good group of veteran guys, and they are ready to be back at it this week. They know we've still got some work to do."
While hype may have been the hurdle in Week 1, it'll be the venue that comes into play in Week 2 for West Point.
The Warriors won't be playing at home or inside the Eagles' nest. Rather, both teams will travel to Alabama A&M's Louis Crews Stadium in Huntsville to battle it out in a college football stadium with a 21,000-person capacity.
"This is a great opportunity for the kids," Farley said. "Some of them have never been to a college game or stadium. We expect them to be excited, but we also hope they're more excited about the fact that it's a region opener against a good team like Columbia."
The Eagles are fresh off a 32-20 victory versus Butler and are more than ready for any challenge the Maroon and White can dish out on any field.
"It's going to be interesting I think," said Will Wrenn, who hauled in two of West Point’s five interceptions last week. "We're anxious and excited for the chance to play there. I don't think we are going into it afraid or anything like that. We're looking forward to it."
Farley is hoping the rest of the team has the same mindset as Wrenn. He doesn't foresee the bigger-than-usual venue being a distraction for his team entering the weekend, either. According to the second-year coach, the players watched film on Saturday to account for Labor Day and improved a great deal just from that. With a day until kickoff, he's further hoping for more strides out on the field.
"We improved from the jamboree to Week 1, and I hope we do the same on Friday," Farley said. "I don't think we'll be all big-eyed. Our guys will put in all the work and the effort. There's no doubt about that. They'll be ready for it."
While it's unlikely the coaches will be ruffled by the environment, the same can't be said for a pair of squads filled to the brim with teenagers.
Despite that fact, however, the Warriors are tempering their excitement with a very down-to-earth approach come Friday night.
"We aren't going to be overwhelmed," Jacob Perez said. "We'll go out and do what we normally do and won't let this get in the way of our main goal — beating Columbia. We're amped up right now. Defensively, we're going to shut 'em out. Offensively, we're going to knock 'em out. The week will be just like any other from a mental standpoint. Week by week, game by game and snap by snap. It's all important right now for our playoff chances."