CHELSEA — For Josh Patterson, a new mental attitude started last year during the high school football playoffs.
"Dad and I went to watch (Claremore) Sequoyah play one of their playoff games and kind of set a standard for me right then,” he said. “I didn't like watching from the grandstands. I wanted to be on the field playing. I told my dad then I wanted to be out there in the middle of it. I wanted to show everyone what I can do and prove Chelsea can win playoff games."
Now, the junior quarterback is going through the process that it takes to reach those goals.
Never mind the 3-7 record Chelsea recorded last year. Things are expected to be different this time around.
If nothing else, a new coach has been brought in. Jim Patterson, no relation to Josh, was hired during the summer to take over the Chelsea football program.
Both Pattersons point out the key differences will be the number of players now suiting up in the Green and White.
Facing the possibility that only 17 players were scheduled to return, Josh Patterson and most of the returning crew went on a crusade.
"We went out and started talking to some of the guys who had not played the last few years," he said. "We told them about the new coaches coming in and how our attitudes were changing while our confidence was building at the same time."
They proved to be good salesmen. More than 50 players reported on the first day of practice. This came after most of them were faithful showing up for off-season conditioning sessions. Almost all worked in the weight room throughout the summer.
"The new coaches (Patterson and Bob Rogers) are great,” Josh Patterson said. “They know what they are talking about and have the experience to guide us in the right direction.
"Coach Patterson and coach Rogers are both older (55-plus), but that only means they have more experience, more knowledge, because they have been coaching twice as long. They know what they're talking about and they have no trouble relating to us. They are giving us credit for working hard and learning fast, but we want to give the credit back to them. They may not realize it yet, but we are on a mission."
Still on the coaching staff are Frank Captain and Jamie Quigley. They have been with Chelsea seven and eight years, respectively.
As offensive backfield coach, Captain knows the quarterback job is in good hands. He is not worried that Josh Patterson can provide the team leadership needed.
Last year as a sophomore, Patterson played the first four games at running back. When senior quarterback Matt Fuller went down with an injury, Patterson took over for the final six games. On Fuller's return, he was moved to receiver.
"This year, I can see more team work and we are playing more as a team and not as individuals,” Josh Patterson said. “We are seeing improvement with each practice and there is much more dedication on everyone's part. All of us want a spot in the playoffs.
"We are working with the new system, but it's not that hard to learn. The plays are different, but easy to run and everybody seems to be catching on quickly."
Another thing that is different, according to Josh Patterson, is the reaction off-campus.
"The townspeople like what's happening here," he said. "More and more of the parents and other adults are supporting us, and that's a big help."
One of the welcome ways the parents are getting involved comes at the end of some of the hot practice sessions. Watermelon, cold fruit drinks, and ice cream have been provided for the players and coaches.
Practicing in the August heat certainly didn't slow Patterson. He reported in excellent shape after working this summer for his father's concrete business.
"We have put in 50 to 60 swimming pools this summer," Patterson said. "I'm Dad's wheel man. I push the wheelbarrow."
Chelsea made news last spring when three female softball players were recruited to help the baseball team finish the season. Low grades forced several players to leave early.
Josh Patterson was a pitcher-shortstop for the Green Dragons. He had no problem with the girls playing.
And, it’s happening again, this time on the gridiron. Sophomore Brittany Hutchens has claimed a spot on the football roster.
Sperry, a District 2A-7 opponent, is expected to return its female placekicker from last year.
Hutchens has her sights on playing at guard and linebacker.
She has played tackle football each year since the sixth grade. This will be the first time a girl has played at Chelsea's high school level, however.
For Josh Patterson and the rest of his male teammates, this is no big deal.
"At first it was a little strange back in the seventh grade, but we are used to it now and she works just as hard as the rest of us. She is dedicated as much as anyone. Brittany is part of the team.
"Our coaching staff is taking all of us in the right direction. I have two years left to play football here and I want to make progress each time we step on the field. The other guys feel the same way," Josh Patterson concluded.