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Islander Football Draws Inspiration From Seahawks, US Army Ahead of Season Opener

Mercer Island High School Football open the season at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 with a non-conference home game against the 4A Redmond Mustangs.

Hoping to model the "can do" ethos of successful teamwork, Mercer Island High School football Head Coach Brett Ogata invited a former Seahawks player and a US Army sergeant on Tuesday to motivate and inspire Islander football players, from freshmen through varsity teams.

“We’re here to talk about leaderships and motivation,” said Paul Johns, a former Seahawks wide receiver and punter returner (1981-84) and the organization’s current assistant director of fan development.

With the first full week of practice underway and first varsity game looming Friday, Aug. 31 (vs. Redmond, at MIHS), Johns asked the players about their preparation. “Your coach can only get you ready for so much; what are you doing to get yourself ready?”

Johns mentioned that players should be running routes on their own, writing down goals and, when on the sidelines, watching what teammates are doing on the field. “Every day, you need to go out there with a purpose, and (ask yourself), what are you going to improve on today — what are you going to (do) to get better?”

Johns suggested the players should ask themselves what kind of example they were setting as a football player and as a person and what they were doing to make this team better, stressing that football players must “be leaders on and off the field.”

Your classmates “watch you guys,” he added, noting that “a true leader does the right thing, no matter how uncool it is.”

Perhaps most important, he said, “don’t ever let another team see you quit. I don’t care if you’re losing 30 to nothing. You want the other team to walk off the field and say, ‘Those guys busted our behinds.’ Football is a microcosm of life, and you learn by defeat, by not giving up.”

Sgt. Christian Almeida, a US Army recruiter for the Seattle area, noted that MIHS football players could adopt the Army’s core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.

The sergeant stressed that players need to keep up their grades to maintain their eligibility. “You teammates are counting on you, so you need to fulfill your obligations not only on the field, but also off the field.”

After conversing with the players, Almeida presented MIHS Assistant Coach Lee Jahnke with a football, and Johns handed one to Coach Ogata, which was signed by Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn.

Mercer Island High School Islanders Varsity Football Date Time Location Opponent 8-31-2012 7:00 PM Mercer Island High School vs Redmond Mustangs (*) 9-8-2012 2:00 PM Coeur d'Alene High School @ Coeur d'Alene High School (*) 9-14-2012 7:00 PM Lake Washington High School @ Lake Washington Kangaroos 9-21-2012 7:00 PM Mercer Island High School vs Sammamish Totems 9-28-2012 7:00 PM Mercer Island High School vs Interlake Saints 10-5-2012 7:00 PM Juanita High School @ Juanita 10-12-2012 7:00 PM Liberty High School @ Liberty Patriots 10-19-2012 7:00 PM Mercer Island High School vs Mount Si Wildcats 10-26-2012 7:00 PM Mercer Island High School vs Bellevue Wolverines   * Non-Conference Game   |   ** Tournament Game   |   *** Playoff Game   |   (F) Forfeit   |   (O) Other

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