The scene was set. Through the pitch black sky, bright lights shone down onto Marsh field. Students in pink gathered together at the entrance to the grass, making room for players to come through for their last time of the year.
Led by senior co-captains, Langston Hughes, Isaac Mallory,Tyler Walker-Terry, R.J. Watters, and Jake Wilson, the football team ran through the banner–intense–and ready to work hard. The team made game day seem smooth and simple. But what really goes on behind-the-scene of a Friday night football game? What makes it work so smoothly?
Senior leadership and know-how have a lot to do with it.
According to Hughes, who played everything from linebacker to tackle, “Tyler Walker-Terry and R.J. have been key to pumping the team up and encouraging everyone. [As a senior] you have a lot more responsibility. You have to look after the younger guys–make sure they know what to do, and make sure they’re working hard and doing everything right. We had to lead by example.”
Quarterback, Wilson, also knows the importance of being an effective role model. “It’s a lot of pressure and when everyone is watching me, I have to be a leader. It’s a lot of fun, but a lot of responsibility.”
Tradition also has played a role in the Vikes’ success. “We say the “Lord’s Prayer” before every game, and on Thursday nights we have dinner at a senior’s house. We rotate each week as to whose house we go to,” said Watters.
Being on the football team is no small commitment. Players have a one-week break after the season ends until training starts back up three times a week. During June and July, when the team is not in camp at Wittenberg, it meets for six hours every week. Starting on August 1, practice runs for six hours every day. The hours spent in the weight room and on the practice field physically prepare the team for the upcoming season, ans they build team spirit and camaraderie.
Watters said, “My best memories at CA come from football more than anything else. We all get along. All of the guys on the team are my best friends.”
Unfortunately, the football team struggled with some medical issues during the season. Walker-Terry was been unable to play for a while due to a blood clot, while Watters has played through a stress fracture, among many other injuries. Pertaining to his own injuries, Watters said, “They’ve been very annoying, but they are something I’ve just got to deal with. We’re playing for more than ourselves this year, and our team is doing everything we can to reach our full potential. I wanted to be a part of this team and give them everything I could.”
The team had its last game against Granville on October 28, finishing with a 5-5 record.
This football season marked the last for many of the seniors. Even so, as the captains and other senior leaders go their separate ways at the end of the year, one thing is for sure: their days playing Academy football will never be forgotten.
“Next year,” said Watters, “I’m going to miss everything about this team: the camaraderie, bonding, and most importantly, the kids that you’re around. We’re all best friends with each other, senior to senior, but definitely senior to underclassmen as well.”
Written by Margaret Sutton’14. Photos by Jeremy Schroeder’14 and Elliot Nick’14.