WINTHROP — As the Winthrop football team seeks to improve from a 2-9 season in 2017, first-year Vikings head coach Jonathan Cadigan has put an emphasis on the importance of practice.
The Vikings have tried to treat each offseason workout and practice as the most important one of their season and no player embodies that mentality more than senior Feedle Small, Cadigan said.
“He’s just a hard worker,” Cadigan said. “We had 99 workouts this offseason and he made sure he was at every single one, our only guy at 100 percent of those. That’s the guy you hang your hat on because everything he does, he’s usually doing it the right way in the classroom or on the field. He’s a kid you don’t have to worry about.”
Small is also one of the Vikings’ most experienced players, leading the defense at middle linebacker and getting the bulk of the offensive carries at fullback. Although 2017 didn’t end ideally for Winthrop, Small said the season was a good learning experience.
“It went alright,” Small said. “I had a slow start but toward the end of the season I started to pick it up a lot more. It helped me prepare for my senior year.”
Small’s dedication during the offseason and his experience with the Vikings at linebacker and fullback have made his teammates see him as a leader as they voted him captain in the offseason.
“It means alot to me,” Small said. “I want to help try to put the program back on the right track and lead by example. I’ve been adjusting to it great.”
Cadigan is excited to see Small involved all three phases of the game and grow into his leadership roles.
“He’s one of our most experienced guys,” Cadigan said. “He’s been playing for us since he was a sophomore. He was elected captain and he’s a two-way player for us but more or less he’s a three-way player in terms of he will never be leaving the field because he is on all of the special teams.
“He’s not really the most outspoken guy for us but he’s literally the epitome of ‘leader by example,'” Cadigan added. “He doesn’t talk a whole lot but he does the right thing all the time.”
One of the most important roles Small will be playing is leading the Vikings’ young defense this season, Cadigan said.
“There are certain roles for him,” Cadigan said. “He’s the middle linebacker so it’s his responsibility to get everyone lined up any way and I think that’s where his experience helps him. He’s taking more of an ownership and a leadership role on that side of the ball. That role is important to us because we’re still fairly young on that side of the ball and it’s great to have that presence in the middle of the field.”
Small hopes to have a lot more success running the ball this season. From a team perspective he hopes the Vikings grow closer as a unit and can find success in 2018.
“I hope to be a power back this season,” Small said. “I’d love to get around 1000 yards this season after totaling around 500 last year.
“I have a lot of expectations for myself and the team this season,” Small added. “We want our team to become a family and become a closer unit this season. We want to make the playoffs.”
Winthrop opens the new season Friday night (7) against Pentucket at Miller Field.