Day in the Life: Football Team

A uniform march of footsteps breaks through the predawn silence, shaking the TPHS campus from its slumber as the varsity Football team winds down the steps to Ed Burke Field.

Though morning practice commences at 6:45 am, not a single team member is late; all have trudged from the locker room by 6:35 am, stepping onto the field in quiet succession to await instruction, the sun rising with them.

With militaristic precision, the team jogs about the turf, aligning in rows to warm up before breaking into groups to run drills. To the observer, they move as one, as if a silent conductor is orchestrating each movement.

All of this is done long before their friends and classmates rise for the first-period bell.

The TPHS football team kicked off the season with their first game on Aug. 19, reuniting players and rekindling hopes of the team winning the CIF San Diego championship.

“We want to end this last year with a bang, but also leave it at a bang [for] next year’s team [to build on],” Quarterback Remi Baere (12) said. “Our main team goal is having fun rather than worrying about the scoreboard.”

For the seniors on the team, the first kickoff marked the start of their last year as Falcons and their first year as mentors.

“Especially having a young team this year, we’re definitely trying to leave an impact with those guys and make sure that they’re doing everything right, showing up 15 minutes early, because if you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late,” Matthew Staycer (12), right tackle and defensive tackle, said.


This discipline is crucial to the team. During their morning practice, players line the track, observing their teammate’s drills with a keen eye and innate knowledge of the game. Throughout the practice, each team — defensive, offensive and special — has their own time to work through plays. Not every practice looks like a game. Though observers may not know it, the careful, precise movements of no-contact practices — though seemingly unnatural when performed by such forceful positions — are everything to the outcome of a game. At one such practice, the defense moved about the field, aligning in repetitive formations and pivoting only slightly when the play was called.


Though these diligent practices and tireless routines offer the players stability, “the nerves never really go away, no matter what you do,” Max Griffiths (12), a receiver and punter, said.


“There’s nothing you really can do except go down on the field and take the first snap because then you realize you’re just playing football, there’s nothing you really need to worry about,” Staycer echoed.


As these nerves quell at kick-off, the team focuses on maintaining its team mentality.


“You get in your head a lot before the game, … but once you’re into the game, halftime is about maintaining your character and moving in a positive direction [as] a team,” right guard and linebacker Andy Livingston (12) said.


For the student section, the game ends once the clock hits zero during the fourth quarter, but for the team, it does not stop there. Nor do thoughts of football subside once the first period bell rings to signal the end of their morning practice.


“My whole day, what goes through my head is what are we doing at practice and what do we need to get done today and what can I do to have a better practice,” Baere said.


While the team members separate after their morning drills to join their friends for classes, they reconvene during sixth period for football P.E.


After their no-contact practice in the morning, the players fill the weight room for a recovery workout. They stretch in silence save for quiet country music blanketing whispered remarks. The team then splits into groups to watch film of their previous games and practices. Varsity head coach Robby Collins pauses the film intermittently, recognizing skillful plays or drawing corrections on the screen for the Falcons to improve.


Eventually, the two groups reconvene to watch film of their opponents. Coach Scott Ashby, the defensive coordinator and former head coach, details plays to anticipate and players to look out for. The players watch with careful eyes as the coaches strategize and critique plays.


“[Watching film is] analytical [and] critical, but it helps you become a better player,” Nick Defina (12), linebacker and defensive end, said.


After they watch film, the players return to the team room, an office space next to their locker room that houses the team between practices and during lulls in the school day. Staycer said he often works on school work before first period in the team room and that lots of players spend their lunch periods there together.


“The best part [of football] is the brotherhood that you get from it,” Griffiths said. “The relationships you make through football … are definitely the things that I’ll miss the most.”


While the players did not return to the field after their P.E. period for an evening practice that day, they often are on campus long after everyone else is at home. First to wake the TPHS campus at dawn and last to leave it at dusk, this is just another day in the life of the Falcon football team.

137 thoughts on “Day in the Life: Football Team

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