CT Today

A Change in the Pack

A look into CT football's season thus far, including its heightened team spirit and successes.

Zoe Vescera, Staffer

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Defensive back Joseph Lim (11) points out a flag on the field after being tackled at the Overland game - a flag that helped us win at a score of 36-24.

Merriam-Webster describes a cougar as “large [and] powerful.” To describe CT’s football season, those words are an understatement (try “formidable,” “advantageous,” or even “extraordinary”). This year has been incredibly successful for the team, ending the most recent game with a total win-loss ratio of 7-3-0. Considering last year’s disappointing season, not only has the school been filled with the buzz of excitement and hope, the quick turnaround since Coach Joe Johnson was hired has left students and staff alike in awe. One question is on everyone’s minds-how did he do it?

Clearly, if anyone knows how to answer that question without having to recall memories of hundreds of hours spent meticulously planning plays, practices, and conditioning, it’s – you guessed it – the players.

They spend hours with the coaches picking apart their on-field performance to pinpoint areas for improvement (six days a week, in fact). These guys know better than anyone that the time spent practicing the same thing over and over until they’ve gotten it so perfect that they could do it blindfolded with their shoelaces tied together has allowed them to perfect their runs, throws, and tackles.

But practicing isn’t the only thing that’s improved the team’s performance. The coaches have left the players feeling “like a family,” according to offensive lineman on the JV team Blake Weiher. They’ve established a bond that Weiher said “just wasn’t there [last year].”

“We’re much more [of] a team… Last year, I would talk to a lot of the JV and Varsity players, and we were all separated into groups. Players had a few friends, and that was it. There was no connection. This year, everybody’s together. We’re all close with each other,” Weiher said.

This is Weiher’s second year playing football for CT, but he’s been playing the sport for eight years.  Weiher was not the only one to suggest that teamwork made a massive difference.

“We all go out there together, we’re in battle together…It’s just a team mindset,” first-string quarterback for the Varsity team Grant Ciccarone (12) said. For Ciccarone, there’s something electrifying in the air when he walks into school the day after a win and feels the smiling gazes of students as he passes. “The atmosphere [in school] has changed greatly. Since last year, there’s a lot more support, more hype for us…I think we have the talent this year to make a playoff run.”

While Ciccarone won’t be able to play for the next few games due to a broken collarbone, he said he’d still be there to support the team. He has played football for all four of his high school years, and thus has been under the advisement of all of the football coaches: Monte Thelen (2003-2015), Dain Magnall (2016-2017), and Joe Johnson, (2018 – present). The big change, according to him, was that “it feels more like a team. Like we’re all together.”

“The coaches…They’re always pushing us to do the best we can, always making us give one hundred percent, no matter what,” JV wide receiver Mauricio Amaro said.

Amaro, like the average football player, spends most of his week practicing. However, unlike other players, he continues practicing even after practice is over. This wasn’t the case for many players in the years before 2018 – especially not JV players.

This change has been a long time coming. While the team has still experienced recent losses to Grandview, Creek, and Eaglecrest, spirits are still soaring. This season has been a big deal – not only to the team, but to the students as well. A good football team is a way to unite the school under a common passion, whether you’re athletic or not. And now, it’s safe to say that CT feels more united than it ever has – and our coaches are to thank.

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