Freshman team takes the field

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The freshman football players finish practice with a team break.

Graschelle Hipolito, Sports Editor

One year makes a substantial difference in a player’s agility, strength and maturity, especially when regarding physically-demanding contact sports like football. For the first time since the mid ‘90s, Bear Creek is fielding a third level of the football program for the upcoming season: a freshman team.

Freshmen practicing and playing amongst players of their caliber enables more focus on respective skill. In contrast, when players are put against each other on a J.V. team consisting of both the freshman and sophomore class, some may reign more experienced or advanced. Creating a distinction between the two allows not only comfort, but balance.

“[Having a freshman team] helps give the confidence boost the players need,” freshman football coach Sam Fant said. “It is a true test of skill set.”

As the season continues, Fant aims to mold his players by establishing the fundamentals for them to refine in their future years. He says that the players are tone-setters whose goal is to become successful in years to come.

The team practices Monday through Friday to improve their playing skills, develop new approaches and learn how to work well together. Techniques such as “3-on-1,” which focuses on tackling and awareness of surroundings, is one of the many ways the team prepares.

Before they can head out to play on the field, however, study hall is held for the student-athletes to study or do homework. In the past, failure to meet the expected minimum grade point average of 2.0 decimated the team and resulted in the removal of players for the season.

“We try to teach the team that, before they can become the best athletes they can be, they have to become the best students they can be first,” Fant said. “Good work ethic comes from not only conditioning yourself on the field, but in the classroom too.”

As excited as the players are to be in their blue and white uniforms and play under the glorious field lights, they are well aware of the expectation put upon them to maintain their grades. Without the academic drive, participating in sports is out of the question.

“Study hall really helps me,” freshman wide receiver Isaiah Redic said. “I think that every paper I finish is one step closer to a D1 [college].”

Many of the athletes were filled with eager anticipation for their first game of the season against Lodi High School on August 28. Bear Creek beat Lodi 42-0 in their season opening.

“We’re a family and I want to stay with them,” freshman quarterback Isaiah Gomez said. “I don’t think I would have liked J.V. as much as I like this team.”

The Bear Creek football program retained plenty of student-athletes instead of losing them to playing for rival schools such as St. Mary’s or Lincoln high schools. Fant says he does not intend to disappoint the players and fans.

“We’ve got a phenomenal talent pool,” Fant said. “Those student-athletes that are going to different schools when they should be coming to Bear Creek better get in while the stock is prime. I think this team will surprise a lot of people.”