As the tailgates, student sections, and Friday night lights start back up, so does the football team. Kicking off their season with a win against Connersville, the team is hoping to keep improving as the season continues.
Being one of the many fall sports at RHS, football begins at the beginning of the school year. For the team, that means putting in the extra time to prepare for the season.
“Practice is going good,” senior Blaine Pierce said. “I feel like we need to get more numbers out, but other than that, everybody here has been working hard and trying to get better every single day. As a team, we do a lot of conditioning after practice and in the summer we lifted, everyone lifted really hard.”
Others agree, believing practices have been successful.
‘We came in,” he said. “We’re working hard. We’ve got fifty-some bodies that are working really hard. We want to get better every day. Our motto is ‘ win the day,’ so we’re going to try to win every day.”
However, Sonsini also feels that the most important thing now is keeping up the momentum.
“It’s going pretty well,” football coach Tony Sonsini said. “I think they’re coming together. We’ve had a great summer and now they just have to stay on pace with school starting and making sure they’re focused on academics. Football is going to take its place in that role as well.”
The football team has changed from last season from the addition of new players to coaching.
“This season’s going to be different,” senior Wyatt Byrd said. “We have a lot more coaches and it seems like they’re more interested than last year’s [coaches]. And we have a lot more kids buying in for coach Sonsini’s debut.”
Players feel that Sonsini has been able to leave his mark on the team.
“I think everyone’s used to Sonsini by now,” Pierce said. “I know all of us have had a new coach every single year, so it’s just another coach. But I feel like Sonsini is good, he knows what he’s doing. We all respect him, we’ve been around him for a while, so it’s pretty good.”
Sonsini believes that being a teacher helped in forming bonds with players.
“The positive thing is [that] I know 90% of these guys,” he said. “I’ve had them in class or had them in another class and got to work with them, so we’re not building new relationships. The relationship is pretty much already established, so the kids know my expectations and know what I want to have happen and what we want to have happen. Our team motto is ‘it’s never I, it’s always we, so it’s never me, it’s always we,’ so it’s always about us and how we’re making the team better.”
Not only is the bond between Sonsini and the players strong, but also the bond between teammates as well.
“The seniors I’ve been playing with, mostly all of us have all been playing our entire high school career,” Pierce said. “So we know each other, we know how we play. And the team’s been together for a while, so I’m not worried about the chemistry at all.”
Byrd agrees and feels that seniors also act as role models.
“Most of the seniors have been playing since senior year together,” he said. “So we have a bond together. And all of the lower classmen look up to us.”
Every team has their own strengths and weaknesses, including the football team.
“We’re very young and inexperienced in some positions,” Sonsini said. “That’s one of our weaknesses. But we have some seniors that have been 3 or 4-year starters, so we have that type of experience to work with. [I’m] looking forward to seeing what it brings.”
Some believe it’s their size that need improving.
“Our weaknesses is that we don’t really have the numbers that we should have,” Byrd said. “But the strength we have is that we have more heart than everyone. And we’ve been working just like everyone else has been. We’re ready to get out on the field.”
Others agree with Byrd, believing their spirit is one of their strongest strengths.
“I definitely think we have strengths in our will and our power,” Pierce said. “But we have to focus more on practice.”
Although Pierce believes players’ focus may be an issue, practices are becoming more focused and personal this year.
“We focus on the individual skill of the player,” Sonsini said. “What they need to develop on, what the offense needs to develop. We just try to put in our plan for offensive and defense, and what works the best.”
Overall, Pierce hopes to have a successful season.
“I expect us to do pretty well,” he said. “We just have to work as a team and be better at practice. We have to keep going. I feel like we’re definitely better than last season, but we’ll see how it goes. My main goal is to get a winning record and to work well with my teammates.”
Sonsini hopes to have two things happen.
“We want to win every game we ever play in, that’s our ultimate goal,” he said. “And to graduate every kid in our program.”
People want to join sports for different reasons. For Wyatt, it was always around him growing up.
“I played it since I was little,” he said. “My whole family played.”
Some share that same family experience.
“I’ve always played football and my dad and grandpa always played football,” Pierce said. “So it’s just kind of in my family. I’ve always wanted to play.”
Others have always wanted to be apart of the sport and school.
“Richmond High School is my dream job,” Sonsini said. “It’s the job I’ve always wanted and I’ve always wanted to be here.”
If you’re interested in joining the football team, Pierce highly encourages it.
“Join the football team,” he said. “It’s good for us, it’s good for everyone. You’ll have fun, everyone here has a bond with someone, so it’ll be good.”