I thought back to my freshman year, when I had a busy schedule. I was playing in freshman-sophomore games, some in junior varsity and dressing for varsity. For freshman, the transition in the amount of games from the middle school level to the high school level is definitely something a player must get used to.
One thing I do not miss about being a freshman is some of the chores we had to do. After every practice or game, it was our job to make sure the equipment was put away in the storage buildings while everyone else got to leave a little bit earlier.
As a sophomore, last year was probably the most fun, but also the busiest season of football I’ve ever played. On Mondays, I would play in the JV game. Sometimes, the coaches would have me play in a few of the freshman-sophomore games on Thursdays. On Friday nights, I would play on special teams as well as seeing some time as safety.
Even though freshman and sophomores don’t play much during varsity games, they have an important job. When Trigg is on defense, the players on the sideline yell “pass” or “run” depending on what the offense does. As a player on the sidelines, I never enjoyed this job. However, when I was playing out there on defense, it was very helpful to hear the sideline calls to make a better read or even prevent me from biting on a fake play.
My knee injury will prevent me from playing football my junior season, so I really can’t speak from experience on this one; however, I know that some juniors play in the JV games, but most play in just varsity games. The junior class makes up the majority of the backups, or the second team.
Most importantly, juniors must learn from the senior class how to be leaders. Sometimes, juniors may see something they plan to replicate or may see something that they plan to change when they become seniors.
As an underclassman, I have seen the impact that seniors have on a football team. During halftime, I’ve witnessed seniors encouraging the team, and I have also seen them upset about the team’s performance. Whatever the method, sometimes players react different coming from a veteran player than from a coach.
Every year, a few seniors rise up to take that very important leadership role on the team. This year is no different. With all the teams that I have been apart of, the most successful ones have focused, hard-working veterans. Like Coach Lewis often says, “This team will go as far as the seniors will take it.”
The unspoken hierarchy of grade levels is a system that players must learn to accept. Every season brings on a new set of challenges and responsibilities. Coaches can draw up any schemes or plays they want, but a successful team will be one that has solid players and leaders from each of the four grade levels.
Comments on Mason Shelton’s “From The Sidelines” column may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.