The Carterville freshman football team has started off strong, leaving high expectations for the remainder of the season. The freshman team is currently undefeated and opposing teams have yet to score against them. This team consists of many boys who played football in the junior high league, but also has new players getting field experience for the first time.
Moving from Jr. High football to playing at the high school level has been a learning curve for the team. Not only has the level of competition increased, but the expectations on the players has dramatically changed. Many of the boys are playing new positions and learning new strategies to play the game at a higher level. Bryce Smith, starting running back for the team, shared his opinions on this transition. He states, “It takes a lot more responsibility. When playing junior high football I was the leader; I was the oldest of the pack and it was a whole different ballgame. I’ve learned to listen to others for advice.” Since most of the players on the team do have experience with the game itself, dedication and hard work has definitely impacted the way they play as a whole. Riley Bradford, starting lineman added, “My biggest challenge at the high school level is now we have better competition.”
Growing up, this freshmen group of boys have always shared a tight bond. Throughout their schooling, this team has always been close and supportive of each other. In high school, the team has carried on this trait and have included the new players into their football family. Many of these boys play multiple sports and and have seen success both in the classroom and on the field. Bradford states, “Our team is always there for each other, both on and off the field.”
As for this season, the first game was against Benton Consolidated High School which took place on August 30th, 2019 in Benton. The team ended with a great win, 38-0 which started off the season with high energy and high expectations. Many of the players learned quickly that this year will not be easy unless they work together. Zander Smith, a wide receiver mentions, “The biggest challenge is remembering what you are supposed to do in the moment of the play. When you boil it down it is just the same as junior high, however, it is just a more complex version.” He adds, “Each person in their position has to do exactly what they are supposed to do for a play to go correctly, but sometimes it is pretty hard and plays do not go how we wanted them to. We always find a way to correct it later. We have adjusted pretty well by showing up to practice, memorizing the plays, and listening to the coaches.“
As the team sets off to finish their season, their dedication and work ethic will be tested during practice and the remaining games. With football being the first sport of their high school career, there is a lot to look forward to with this group of athletes. There is no doubt that the hard work of these players will outshine the wins and loses and will define their freshman year. The team will finish the season with games against Chester, Fairfield and Mascoutah. The future looks bright for this group of Lions.