Football team perseveres despite injuries


Justine Chen, Editor-in-Chief

Senior and starting wide receiver Martin Thurman lies flat on his back at the twenty-yard line with the wind knocked out of him. As he struggles to catch his breath, the pounding in his head drowns out the sound of the spectators clamoring and the coaches sprinting toward him. Following a trip to the emergency room, Thurman was diagnosed with a mild concussion and was one of the three players who incurred major injuries during the football team’s first home game of the pre-season against Andrew Hill High School on Sept. 1.

Starting pre-season with a rocky start of six losses, the team has been under high pressure to perform well for the upcoming league games. A lack of players has contributed significantly to the team’s first few losses: this year’s team consists of 21 players fewer than last year, making up only half of the previous year’s roster. Multiple injuries of key players such as Thurman, junior and quarterback Nadir Bouaricha and junior and guard Dave Lawrence have further decreased the already unsubstantiable numbers. The rotation of players in and out of games became less frequent and thus quickly drained players’ energies, lowering the quality of their performance.

“Last year was an outlier in terms of athleticism; a lot of the kids were really talented, big, fast and strong,” said senior and co-captain Eric Macpherson. “We don’t have as much as that this year but what we lack in physical ability we gain in mental ability. We’re a smarter team than we were last year.”

While the team is short in numbers and strength, they have implemented new strategies and tactics to work around such weaknesses and ensure success at future games. For instance, the team has been spending time in the film room breaking down opposing teams’ weaknesses as well as those of their own. From their first six games, players identified key areas for improvement and made adjustments accordingly that could contribute to a more successful game. Through these reflections, head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Alan Vinciguerra and Offensive Coordinator Ajene Palmer have been confident that the team will learn from its mistakes and experience a victorious season.

“One game does not define us,” said senior and receiver Garrett Riley. “Even if we lose one week, it’s how we come back that counts. We need to forget all the mistakes we made and get ready for the next one. If we hold onto this negativity, we’re not going to get better and we’re going to keep going downhill.”

Regardless of the win-loss record, team captains Macpherson, senior Hayden Ito and junior Zayhaan Batlivala have named maintaining a positive outlook and exemplifying teamwork as the team’s top priorities. After a loss or difficult game, Vinciguerra and the captains tell players to “flush it,” a motto that motivates them to move on and look forward to their next play. The Vikings’ next game is on Sept. 29.

“Each week, we try to go game by game,” said Batlivala. “Yes, we do have losses and games that lower player morale but we focus on one week at a time while using that anger and frustration from past games to drive us to do better.”

Pre-season has allowed the team to reflect on personal performance as well that of the overall team. Keeping in mind the lessons learned from pre-season, the Vikings hope to achieve a successful season not simply in number of wins, but also in teamwork and unity.

“We play the game because we love it,” said Riley. “We don’t play the game to have a jersey on or to be able to say we’re on the team. We play the game because we respect it and it brings us together.”