Pace’s Plans for 2023 Football Season
March 16, 2023
In sign that he has big plans for the 2024 football season, FCHS History teacher Mitchell Pace can be found on the football field every Friday at 6:45 am.
Pace took over the Fluvanna varsity football program after former head coach Michael Morris stepped down. Pace said he is ready to take on this new challenge, and that includes setting a new tone for the team.
“Change will come with the demand for a higher standard. I will expect everyone to behave, work hard, work together, and give maximum effort in the halls and on the field. If those expectations are not met, we will not change… so I am going to hold the players accountable for those types of things,” Pace said.
Varsity had a very young team last fall with multiple injuries, resulting in them going 0-10. Pace hopes to turn the football program around and bring a major change to attitude and morale. “Practices will have a different rhythm and structure with lots of focus on individual skill development and game-like scenarios. Games will be different because of the changes we make in practice,” he said.
Although Pace will be utilizing what he learned as the Quarterback and Cornerback coach the last couple of years, he hopes to take things in a new direction, starting with the Friday morning workout sessions which have already been attracting dozens of potential players.
“I’ve worked under a lot of head coaches and learned a lot from all of them, but it’s never fully gotten the result we wanted. Maybe piecing all of that together mixed some new ideas of my own will get some exciting results,” he said.
Pace said he “would like to change not one, but two things: discipline and character. We’ve simply got to be better young men first. Then football will work itself out.” Some criticized last season’s football program as being undisciplined, noting that they received a number of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties which could have been avoided. Some former players on the team also noted issues which have faced the team in the past.
“Over the last couple of seasons, the football team has struggled with winning games and playing as a whole,” said 1996 FCHS graduate Dylan Pardue, who went on to graduate from the University of Virginia.
Some current FCHS students, who have found it challenging to cheer on a team with so few wins, also expressed hope for the future. “Two years ago I supported [the team] more because it was a good team and they bonded. Then this year I didn’t support them as much because I really see any bonding or chemistry throughout the team,” said senior Asiana Hawkins.
How does Pace plan to bring the team together? “Teams bond by struggling together. We have struggled versus opponents on Friday nights, but I plan to shift the struggle to Monday- Thursday, so that Friday nights are easier. Working hard and positive collaboration will bring us together,” Pace said.