Three freshmen this year have stood out more than most because of their undeniable athletic ability when it comes to football. Nyheim Miller, Malik Parker, and Dillon Cooper have all come straight from middle school level playing, and fit right in with some more experienced players.
Miller was the only freshmen to make varsity at tryouts this year. “At first I felt kind of lonely, because I didn’t really know anyone on the team,” remembers Miller. His middle school friends were soon back to playing with him, though.
In football, there’s an 8 quarter rule, and after a JV player has played 8 quarters with varsity, he’s officially added to the varsity team.
Parker did not make varsity at tryouts, but he has now completed his 8 quarters so he is now on varsity as well.
“Each one of these boys serves us a specific purpose on the field,” said Smothers, head coach of varsity. “I don’t take grade levels into consideration when I’m putting together my team. I look at who has the most skill, and who will give us the best opportunity to win”.
“High schools are a lot different than middle school games. You get so much more pumped up, but also so much more nervous,” said Cooper. “There are also so many more fans”
Coach Pyper, the JV coach, has worked with these boys throughout most of their football careers because he also coached their middle school team. “The three things we really look for when putting together varsity, are talent, maturity, and opportunity. Nyheim Miller came in, totally ready with all of those aspects. Braxton Berrios was the same way,” said Pyper.
“I remember the boys would pretend they were worshiping me, saying I was so good, but being real sarcastic about it. It was never serious stuff, just making fun of the freshmen, you know?” said Berrios, who, like Miller, was the only freshman on varsity his first year.
“One of the biggest differences for me has been weight lifting. It’s a lot of work. It’s hard, but it’s really been paying off,” says Miller. “This is my first year lifting [weights], so it’s been kind of hard” agreed Cooper.
“I like high school football so much better than middle school [football]. It’s much faster paced. It is intimidating to be playing with guys who are 18 years old, and so good, when I’m only 14,” said Parker.
As they spend more time with their new upperclassmen friends, the boys all agree that they are looking forward to continuing to play football throughout high school.