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Russ Counts instills values in players through football

With the sun beaming down and sweat dripping off faces, football season is back in action. Players have practiced since spring, aiming to compete for the fourth consecutive championship for eight-man football.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

The Eagles look to earn their third consecutive 8-man championship.

Coach Russ Counts will be playing with a two-quarterback rotation between Jonah Lozano, ’19, and Anthony Leonardo, ’19. Darrin Wiliams, ’19, and Austin Duffy, ’19, will be the key to a successful defense.

Winning another championship is one of his goal but not his main goal. His real goal for the team is to help his players to become better men. He wants them to unite as one big family.

“It is bigger than football,’” Counts continued. “The reason I have coached for as long as I have is to help young men be better young men. To have someone believe in them more than they believe in themselves. Of course, we strive to win the league, but my real goal is to make solid men ready for life through the game of football. I want more than anything for this team to see themselves as a family. Where each one has responsibilities and value to what each one brings. Football is about team, unity and togetherness.”

Every new season provides opportunities for new players to join. When given the choice of applying for a job or joining the football team, Griffin Schmidt, ‘19, decided to play football. Schmidt had also previously played flag football in junior high. 

“I joined football because my parents gave me the choice of either joining football or getting a job, and I chose football,” Schmidt said. “I play wide receiver and cornerback and I love both of those positions. On offense, I get to score touchdowns, and on defense, I get to hit people. I am looking forward to seeing how well we can do this season. My favorite part of football has been the team camaraderie. We are one big family and there is nothing like it.”

Four-year varsity player, Kyle Friesen, ‘19, hopes to make his final season his best with his teammates. Friesen wants to learn to play the game with fewer mistakes and play his hardest with his teammates for one last time. 

“When I was in junior high and elementary school I always loved watching football,” Friesen said. “When I got the chance to play this sport it was really great. My favorite part of football is the camaraderie. You’re on a big stage with a lot of people watching you as you work as a team to succeed. I want to make my last season my best season and limit my mistakes on the field and as a team I want to win another championship.”

This will be the first year since that the football team will have a junior varsity team. Players of that team are excited for the chance to play in live games. Brynnor Poplin, ’22, will be playing tackle football at the high school level for the first time. Poplin’s main goal for this year is to get better at the sport and be ready to play on a varstiy level.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

FC has three home games this season. This first is against Kings Christian HS, Sept. 14.

“This is my first year of high school football,” Brynnor said. “I play offensive line and defensive line. My goal for this year is to get better and hope to make to varsity for next year. My favorite part of football is tackling people on defense, it’s really fun to hit the opponents hard.”

Alumni Roman Endicott, ’18, and Tyler Villines, ’18, played under coach Russ Counts for four years with Villines as quarterback and Endicott playing defensive end. Counts anticipate leading the Eagles football team to another championship.

Villines is a great player and made a great deal of impact on FCS as well as our league,” Counts said. “As we move forward this year without Tyler we look at the new talent and skills players we have to work with. Each season brings with it new surprises. This team will have its own form of splash and dynamic plays due to new young men each driving to excel on the field.”

The Eagles will only have three home games this year, and the first one is against Kings Christian High School, Sept. 14. This week the Eagles have a bye and next week they will travel to Alpaugh High School, Sept. 8. Come support your Eagles!

For more on last year’s football championship game, read Eagles shutout Trona, win 8-Man Valley championship.

For more sports articles, check out RECAP: Spring Sports Awards 2018 and Spring 2018 FC sports box scores.

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