By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Expectations are big for Lincoln this year. So big, in fact, that after it beat Brooklyn's fourth ranked team in New Utrecht 26-6, most of the players walked off the field frustrated they didn't score 40 or shut the Utes out.
Lincoln, along with Erasmus Hall, has pulled away from the pack. It's really those two teams and everybody else in the Public School Athletic League in Brooklyn. Those two teams will likely be undefeated when they face each other on Oct. 18, and it will be unlikely that either team finishes with more than one loss all season.
The problem is its just that kind of thinking that could lead to a false sense of security, and ultimately a sloppy loss. Which is why Lincoln must try hard to keep its focus week to week.
"It is a little bit difficult [to avoid losing intensity] because of the fact that we know how good we are and how good we're going to be as we get closer and closer to week 13," five-star recruit Thomas Holley said. "So we always look at it like this is where we're going to be, and at the same time we play every game like it is week 13 because that's the mentality you need to be the best."
Last Friday could have been one of those games where the Railsplitters let up. Facing New Utrecht, a team whose recent reputation hasn't been as a football powerhouse until this season, and the Utes were without quarterback Angelo Carrera. As it was, Lincoln played a sloppy game, but this is exactly the kind of situation that they must not allow themselves to look past.
"Everybody should be [playing hard] every week, and it shouldn't matter who they're playing," said quarterback Javon "Spanky" Moore. "We're a top ranked team in the league. Teams see us as a target. If we let our guard down even a little, that's when they are going to take advantage. This team is focused though, we have a goal and we're working hard to get there. We aren't going to let a slip up get in our way."
One of the biggest things that help them focus is the message from coach Shawn O'Connor, who tells his kids that the goal is to improve as a team each and every week so that they are always better than the week before. He constantly is on them about how other teams have improved and says that Lincoln won't be able to achieve its goals if they are only going through the motions.
The other thing that drives them is that this team is playing with a chip on their shoulders. Most of this year's squad played as juniors and took their playoff loss to Tottenville hard. They haven't forgotten that and not only do they want to win this year, but they wouldn't mind going 13-0 in the process. That mindset forces them go into every game as if it is a must win.
"That's our biggest goal," Holley said of trying to go 13-0. "Everybody wants to get to week 13, wants to win that ring, and especially my senior class because we fell a little short as juniors, but we really want to dominate and leave on a high note."