Football Team and New Coach Come Together


Summer Hornbeck and Anjali Budhram

The Poly Prep 2022 football season has officially kicked off. After pushing through multiple injuries and changes in the program, the team has maintained an undefeated record thus far. As the program transitioned from former Head Coach Kevin Fountaine to Head Coach Jerell Jones, players have been adjusting to the developments a new coach brings to the team’s overall dynamic. 

When asking players about the transition, many noted that the change wasn’t seamless, and they spoke about a slight disconnect between the new head coach and the assistant coaches regarding coaching style. 

“I think there is a disconnect within their coaching styles which is pretty expected with a new set of coaches. I believe that they need to start working better together,” said Student Body President and member of the football team, senior Julien Feuerman.

There will always be challenges,” Jones responded in an email to the Polygon. “I have been on coaching staffs that have been together for years, and there were challenges. I have learned through my experience that coaches must continue to challenge one another to foster critical thinking. I love when coaches have ideas and think outside the box. We embrace challenges and work through them to get better.”

 Jones continued: “It has been great and a learning experience for all of us. Some coaches were members of my previous staff, and others were complete strangers. When creating the football staff, I wanted to ensure that all coaches were dedicated and passionate about serving the players of the team. It was also very important to surround all players with coaches that they can connect [with]. We have a wide variety of personalities and styles on our coaching staff, but our core values remain the same.”

“I’ve been willing to put my body on the line for the guys next to me because I know they would do the same for me.””

— Ben Rosenblatt

Many of the players have been teammates since middle school and said they were already used to a certain flow among players, but new changes seem to have brought the team even closer together. 

“I’ve been willing to put my body on the line for the guys next to me because I know they would do the same for me. We have a lot of history together,” said one of the team captains, senior Ben Rosenblatt. 

Jones acknowledged the lingering presence and relationships that his players have with Fountaine, who departed Poly midseason last fall after nearly 20 years. Undergoing a major coaching change during his high school experience, Jones said he could empathize and understand the situation in a better light. 

“The fact that many of the players have been teammates for some time has been positive from my perspective. They have a relationship that goes far beyond the sport of football,” Jones wrote in an email to the Polygon. “They are reassurance for one another, and [that] gives them familiarity. I didn’t want any of the players to feel alienated due to a coaching change. I tell the players frequently that it is their team, not mine or anyone else’s. The players that play should take ownership, and having a collective familiarity with one another has allowed them to do just that.”

Jones has worked towards building stronger relationships with his players. Overcoming challenges alongside them, Jones is adamant about supporting his philosophy of creating real relationships with the players and other coaches, carrying those throughout the team and the rest of the season.