Adversity Within

Varsity football team struggling; JV team prospers
Posted on 11/08/2021
Varsity – Estrella Foothills varsity playing against Youngker High School.





by Jaycee Pope

It has been a rough season for the Estrella Foothills varsity football team, having a 1-8 record. During the season players have faced major adversity, with some leaving and others having a lack of knowledge of the sport.

Most of our team has not played a varsity football snap prior to this season, so developmental wise they are behind,” head coach Mike Welch said. “Football is an extremely difficult sport, and it takes 11 players at one time to execute correctly to be effective. Lack of experience tends to mute success.”

Within the struggling season, some players have decided to leave the team.

“For what I have seen, the main reason kids have left the program is because of lack of parental support,” Welch said.

While Welch said that the reason players are leaving is because of parents, varsity and JV player Ta Wanbli Gleska Candelaria said he suggests that there are other reasons: a toxic atmosphere, coaching, and the phycological aspect.

“You know, inside the locker rooms if you’re asking as a player specifically – I heard some stuff about coaching, I heard some stuff about the environment,” Candelaria said. “And I feel like it’s a trend … and maybe it’s their [players’] mentality, maybe they’re lazy.”

Meanwhile, varsity player Liam Henry suggested that it is the absence of dedication to the team.

“Football isn’t for everyone, and that’s understandable,” Henry said. “The remaining guys on the team are committed to coming to practice, giving their 100% all the time in practice and in games, and just being a part of the team. The guys that left weren’t committed in the first place, so it was easy for them to leave.”

Others say that if you do not have the passion and drive for the sport, then you did not belong in the first place.

“People are leaving because they have no heart,” JV head football coach Patrick Stone said. “You can’t judge, kids these days are just different. So, it takes special people to play football. This is a school of 1,100 to 1,200 people and only a certain amount want to pay the price of football. And obviously, those guys don’t want to pay the price.”

Due to the fact that so many varsity players have left, some JV players have been asked to play with varsity. JV could possibly be able to assist, they just need to understand the concepts more.

“There are a handful of JV players that could help us out, but they still need to develop their knowledge of the game to produce for us at the varsity level,” Welch said.

Henry also agrees that more repetitions in games will better serve the JV players so they are ready for the higher level.

“The JV players need experience at that level before they move up,” Henry states. “Varsity is a much faster game than JV, so getting that first year to learn the playbook and see how things are is great for them.”

Although some said they think JV needs more experience, others have confidence in their capability to assist varsity.

“We sent up four last week for depth,” Stone said. “And I believe some of them can step up and help – especially next year.”

The varsity can improve, but how they do so is up to them working daily and striving for better outcomes, Welch said.

“Our guys have several things they can improve upon, technique wise, and we work daily to help them get better,” Welch said.

Staying on track, learning the position, and asking for help can better the team, others said.

“I think if we can focus up more at practice, both varsity and JV can improve,” JV and varsity player Noah Alverez said.

“We need to focus on little things,” Henry added. “Everyone on the field needs to know their job and how to execute it. If one player doesn’t know what they’re doing it could jeopardize the whole play. Players need to study the playbook and ask questions at practice.”

Candelaria suggests having a familial bond can help better the team. He also said it would be beneficial for the team to not be discriminatory of each other based on who they are, as well as having enjoyment and not being under constant stress if you have a deep love for the sport.

“Varsity is pretty disciplined; I just feel like they’re not on the same page,” Candelaria said. “They should be kind of like a family. It’s a whole family. There shouldn’t be linemen, their shouldn’t be freshmen, their shouldn’t be sophomores. As you can tell, it’s not a family and that’s what’s costing us. You got to have some fun when playing football and that’s the major difference between JV and varsity.”

Where there is darkness, there is always a light. Even with varsity’s struggles, they do extraordinary at adapting to different situations.

Our guys do a really good job at adjusting to what we throw at them, be it new offensive plays or in-game defensive adjustments,” Welch said.

Other players think their drive to better themselves is what makes them phenomenal.

“The Varsity team has heart and passion,” Henry said. “As a team, we never give up and will fight to the end – it’s as simple as that.”

Although varsity has been faced with so much adversity this season, the program has allowed the opportunity for three people to have scholarship offers so far. Those players are Diego Alvarez, Max Amicarelli and Donell Danley.

The varsity team has one final chance to close out the season with a victory, as it hosts district rival Buckeye at 7 p.m. Friday in the final game of the season.

In contrast to varsity, JV has an 8-0 record. At Deer Valley High School November 3, JV improved an exponential amount as a family, and their confidence grew. Before, they did not have anything to truly fight for, as many of their games were not close. They played a full and complete game against Deer Valley, going up to the coaches and finally saying the words, “We got this! This team ain’t got nothing on us!” There were some tears shed on that field that night as well as some laughs. That is what makes a team: work, caring, supporting, and uplifting. When you tell another player how well they had performed, giving them credit for their hard work they put in. That is what a team does, they support each other at their lowest and highest moments. Those players truly did that at Deer Valley High School.

“JV is doing good things because the kids are smart, and football intelligent,” Stone said. “They’re doing good because of their willingness to overcome any adversity. They’re great kids; they’re great kids playing with each other.”

The reason why JV is doing extraordinary is because of enjoyment and drive.

“Like I said with the confidence, I think JV is rolling every time they get a win,” Candelaria said. “They realize they are a really good team. I feel like everybody realizes what they got to do and if everybody is doing their job it all goes well. That’s why I feel with varsity they let the momentum get into their heads. And that’s why I feel JV’s not like that, they’re young and they know what they have to do. With JV being undefeated, I can tell they are having a hell of a good time.”

After winning the JV game at Lake Havasu, the players got surprised by Coach Stone when they were told another game had been added to the schedule. Their season will finish at Yuma High School on Wednesday.

The most famous people did not achieve success with pure victory, they had to fail to succeed. If the varsity and JV teams continue to fight in the last week of the season, they have an opportunity to allow good fortune to come their way.