By Carli Striker & Lauren Parker
managing sports & out of bounds
They’re bigger. They’re faster. They’re stronger. Playing against older and more experienced opponents is a challenge that the DHS varsity football team faces after losing many key seniors from the past season. When they rebuilt their starting lineup, many underclassmen had to step up in the roles that had been recently vacated. This forced the new members of the team to rise to the challenge both mentally and physically.
Sophomore Brennan Miller knows how much of a challenge he faces as the new quarterback, especially being an underclassman.
“I feel the pressure to perform,” Miller said. “And as a sophomore quarterback I have a huge role and I have to be able to lead the team.”
Miller isn’t the only underclassman who feels the immense pressure.
“I can feel the pressure but that is expected in football,” junior David Laursen said. “It helps being an underclassman knowing I have one more year.”
Cole Skinner, a junior who plays cornerback gets excited playing on a varsity level, but is also not immune to the stress he is put under.
“I get nervous,” Skinner said. “I don’t want to mess up in front of everyone, and sometimes I do.”
However, he has been adapting to playing with players who are quicker.
“It’s a lot faster paced game,” Skinner said. “If you miss a play you have to put it behind you and get it out of your head.”
On the other hand junior Gavin Groszek said that he is used to the pressure of the varsity games since he played last year, and that being an underclassman is actually beneficial.
“The seniors are the leaders of the team so it’s more on their shoulders,” Groszek said.
Despite how the younger players may or may not be nervous about the experience they have had a good bonding experience with the upperclassmen.
“They accept us on the team, and expect us to play,” Skinner said. “They understand that if we are good enough we are going to play.”
Junior Alex Hus agrees with Laursen and said that the upperclassmen are pretty accepting if hard work and dedication is displayed. However, he has a different take on the team chemistry and actually takes out age as a factor.
“I think we are like a big family and we don’t really look at age,” Hus said.
Hus added that he was worried having his older brother, Matt Hus, on the team would have been weird. However, he admitted it has been nice, and even brought the brothers closer together.
Fortunately, in addition to the bonding, the morale has elevated among the players. An example is the relationship between Miller and his teammates.
“Even though he is still young, he stepped up into the role almost naturally and took responsibility as quarterback,” senior Alex Zahn said. “His confidence has risen dramatically.”
For senior captain Ben McRae, this season has brought a lot of change, but he’s learning to adapt to the new players.
“It’s a lot different this year because I’ve always played with the older kids,” McRae said. “But we have to get used to this because Brennan is quarterback and most starters are juniors.”
Even with a shaky start to the season with the team losing their first two games to Saginaw High School and Flint Northern High School, some of the players look back on their mistakes in those games and are looking to improve from them.
“I think we could have won those first few games, we just made some mistakes on both offense and defense that ended up letting them score,” Skinner said. “In the game against Flint Southwestern we won because we didn’t make these mistakes on offense or defense and we were able to hold them off from the beginning.”
Senior captain Travis Schultz agrees with Skinner and believes that their younger players can give them an edge.
“I think we will improve more during the year than other teams because we have such a young team,” Schultz said.
Schultz isn’t the only senior captain who has faith in the young team. McRae realizes the team’s weaknesses but also sees the potential.
“I expect us to get better every week and develop team chemistry so they can be better next year,” McRae said. “There is a lack of experience, but that’s all around, not just because we’re younger.”
Skinner also looks forward to the rest of the season.
“The beginning of our season just feels like a building point,” Skinner said. “We’re not bad as everyone’s saying. I think there’s hope that we can win more games.”
Laursen is keeping a positive attitude as well and was excited about the first win and is expectant for what the rest of the season may bring.
“It felt like a lot of kids were starting to get down but after that win the tempo at practice was clearly raised,” Laursen said.
Now about half way through the season, with all of the team looking ahead the boys are hoping to only improve their season. Plus having the crowd cheering is an added bonus.
“It is unbelievable,” Alex said. “I think it adds to the pressure, but I love it.”