After enduring countless hours of vigorous practice, the freshman football team won the title of Almont league champions on Nov. 1, marking the first time freshman football won a league tournament.
Facing its first loss of the season against Montclair High School on Aug. 22, the team became motivated to navigate through its mistakes and to improve on sportsmanship.
“The first game [the team lost], but [it] immediately took the loss as a learning experience,” head football Coach Kevin Encinas said. “They did extra conditioning and got the team to really buy in. Ever since then, they were all pretty much wins.”
During practices, the coaches conducted drills that taught them how to work as a team and improve communication. The coaches ran a drill called the triple option, which took a lot of repetition, practice, and discipline.
“It was challenging in the beginning because we had to run a lot of laps,” quarterback and wide receiver Emil Toro said. “We had to give 110% and learn discipline [because] we were determined to win league. The whole team worked hard and was committed.”
Throughout the season, the team encouraged each other to not dwell on their mistakes and keep their heads in the game.
“We play over each other’s strengths, so if one person slacked off, the team will pick up the slack,” receiver and container Tijani Daley said. “We could improve on communication.”
Once the team won its league tournament, it was ecstatic because all its hard work paid off.
“Winning league felt really exciting and accomplishing because we were the underdogs,” captain Aaron Hampton said. “On our final game against Montebello, I was nervous because that game determined whether we were going to win or lose league.”
Witnessing how well the team played this year, Encinas believes that it is capable of winning league every year if the team puts in the work during summer practice.
“[The key to winning] was the remarkable team effort,” Encinas said. “All the other teams had really good players, but this team was a whole team. It took every single player from the starters to the backups to the coaches.”