After a tough season last year, the Leto High football players don't have a lot of things to brag about. That fits just fine with Falcons' senior two-way player Alex Smith. The soft-spoken, soon-to-be featured runner in the Falcons backfield doesn't have a lot to say about last season's 1-9 record.
His thoughts on it are plain spoken and emphatically simple: "That's the past. It's over."
Smith's off-the-field shyness is fine with first-year Falcons coach Matt Kitchie. Kitchie said he's fine with that impression of his 6-foot-1, 195-pound tailback and strong safety, because it comes packaged with what he terms as an "absolute beast" once the whistle blows.
Kitchie describes Smith's talents on offense as being the type of well-rounded back that is comfortable running up the middle or breaking to the outside. Smith, to his coach, is indicative of what the team has to do be consistent, keep things simple and put in the effort to find success this season.
"I'm not suggesting we are going to come in here and be the next dynasty or anything like that," Kitchie said. "But every team has a low point and hopefully we've been through that
"Now we are putting in the effort, the time and we are clawing and going to pull ourselves up with everything we've got."
Smith and the Falcons' other running backs will certainly have a challenge with a move to Class 6A-District 8, joining county-powerhouses Armwood, Hillsborough, Jefferson and King, along with Sickles and Strawberry Crest.
Kitchie hopes his first year at Leto will be the start of something the team desperately needs — a change in culture. It's a chance for both coach and team to resurrect itself. Kitchie, who was forced out at Land O'Lakes after an off-field incident last year and Leto, which has changed coaches four times in the last six seasons, both need to find consistency.
For Kitchie, there are no concrete expectations this season. The goals are simple and there are no lofty expectations.
"Our goal is an easy one," Kitchie said. "Improve. We aren't going to talk about wins, we aren't going to talk about losses what we talk about is improving."
For Smith that plan is just fine with him.
"The mistakes we made last year are behind us," Smith said. "From here we don't listen to critics or set big expectations, we need to just do better. And from there we'll keep doing that again and again."