‘It’s a New Day’ for Tigers under new coach Harper

The Fred T. Foard football program waited nearly all summer to gets it first action in 2013, but it finally did on Tuesday.

The Tigers participated in its first 7-on-7 drills at Rudisill Stadium on the campus of Cherryville High School.

Among the teams involved in the 7-on-7 drills were the Tigers, the Ironmen, Bessemer City and Lincolnton.

First-year Foard coach Tom Harper was excited with what he saw in his young program in the drills and also during this offseason.

“I want to brag on this football team,” Harper said. “They have come out, worked all summer and done everything we have asked them to do. They have great attitudes. Does that constitute into wins? I don’t know, but I know this — they are winners. They want to do well. They are hungry and passionate. Our objective is to get them to understand that the only way they are going to win is for them to love and care for each other and play for each other. That was our intent with this summer.”

Quarterback Matt Williams got his first reps as a Tiger on Tuesday after transferring from rival Hickory High this summer.

“I love it,” Williams said of his new team. “It is a great move. I’m excited. I’m ready to get going already. I am excited for our season.”

Junior Jackson Bass also took snaps under center for the Tigers first team offense.

Jacob Schmidt, who started at quarterback for the Tigers last season, is moving over to running back this year.

Schmidt welcomes the switch, especially after pain in his right shoulder after having surgery on it two seasons ago.

“I’m back in my comfort zone,” Schmidt said. “Having Matt (Williams) at quarterback helps a lot. It makes it a lot easier.”

One of the biggest hurdles Harper is having to overcome is the team’s lack of success in past seasons.

The Tigers were 2-8 in 2012 and have only won a combined four games in the past three seasons.

Harper helped order the team new practice and game jerseys for this upcoming season.

He has also adopted the new team motto of “It’s a New Day,” which could be seen Tuesday on T-shirts worn by members of the Foard coaching staff.

“We can’t worry about the past,” Harper said. “We can’t change it. We have to worry about now and every new day that we get. In order to be able to do that, you’ve got to be First Class and look First Class. Our objective is to put them in nice things because they deserve and earn that. They have. They are doing the things we are asking them to do and busting their butt to play for each other. If we can do that, no matter what the scoreboard says, then in my book they are winners.”

Many of the Tiger football players, including two-year defensive starter Eric Hampel, like their new head coach and feel confident about this upcoming campaign on the gridiron.

“He is real tough,” Hampel said of Harper. “He brings a lot of structure. He gives us a lot of confidence in ourselves. He is just a great guy. What coach Harper is doing is bringing in new traditions. With the new uniforms and everything, he wants us to have a new feeling so that we will have a new outcome on the season.”